Clarification:

Ava Hubble writes: Re. “Construction industry case driving a wedge between the ALP and unions” (Friday, item 13). The Ark Tribe case had barely resumed last Friday when it was adjourned again, this time  reportedly because His Honour, Magistrate David Whittle, advised the court he had once acted for the first witness, Seamus Flynn. A spokeswoman for the South Australian Magistrates’ Court advised this morning that the matter has now been adjourned until July 7.

Rudd’s communications strategy:

Les Heimann writes: Re. “Rudd’s communications strategy hapless before a media turned feral” (Friday, item 3). Suggesting Kevin Rudd’s communication strategy is faulty presupposes one exists!

Bernard Keane has, on many occasions, pontificated the need for a narrative and Bernard is correct, Rudd has no narrative.

Briefly, the Labor government did indeed have a narrative — the Robin Hood thing about getting the rich mining billionaires to give to the poor workers an extra 3% super and other goodies. A good solid core Labor narrative. One has to wonder if the colleagues ever realised they had it because they didn’t pursue for more than one day.

The advertising wars with the mining industry absolutely demonstrate the complete dominance of the billionaires. Can Labor recover? Not without a consistent, believable message.

Zachary King writes: I must protest against Bernard Keane’s article — in fact I am outraged and demand an apology. Stephen King’s Firestarter and the resultant movie adaptation are in fact recognised as cult classics. The movie carries on the trend of schlock horror based around telekinetic powers started by the Cronenburg tour de force Scanners.

With an all star cast including not just the fresh from ET Drew Barrymore but also such luminaries as Oscar winner George C Scott, Martin Sheen, perennial 80s go-to-guy David Keith and a young soon to be discovered Heather Locklear.

To compare such a seminal classic of its time, a masterpiece of the genre with the ineffectual flailing of Rudd (here’s a hot tip Kevvy — why not tell the public that Minerals Council of Australia developed the tax proposal? And the truth shall set you free) is nothing short of a mortal insult.

Clive Morton writes: In Queensland many cane growers I know voted for Rudd instead of their usual Nationals. They reasoned the Nationals were would be Liberals and had long ceased to represent rural  people.

The cane growers and probably some others found that under Rudd Labor the tax benefits they got from buying new tractors and equipment  had never happened in the recent past under Nationals. The older males remembered Artie Fadden had been sympathetic but they had not found Anthony or Anderson very helpful. I think  many cane growers will again vote Labor.

Now they won’t vote for Premier Bligh in the coming Queensland elections but are a bit uneasy with the LNP who seem to be self destructing and like Hewson could lose a winnable election Harry Morton.

Thomas Richman writes: Has the  ABC, both radio and TV, become so afraid of being thought sympathetic to Labor that it’s now bending over backwards to outdo The Australian in hysterical Rudd bashing? Having Dennis Shanahan on Friday’s Lateline is but the latest of examples. The same can be said for SBS, but then I expect much less from it to begin with.

Parental leave:

Katherine Stuart writes: Re. “Parental leave: revolution it ain’t” (Friday, item 4). After having lived in Sweden for so long, my head has really been turned. The very idea that we are somehow all islands living on this big island of ours and that things like children are not ultimately a national resource (and the people who are going to be looking after us when we get old) for which it is reasonable that we take some degree of responsibility as a community right from the start, has become anathema to me.

Sweden is light-years ahead of Australia in too many ways to mention, and it’s not because they are brighter or more creative than Australians. It’s because they pool their resources and make the most of them as a community instead of seeing issues in dichotomous terms, win-lose and right-wrong.

The Swedish Model is arguably largely the result of Sweden’s particular history — perhaps our own bottoms out in the great Protestant/Catholic divide. Our democracy looks to me more and more like vested (sic) interests jostling for power than agreement on any basic issues that clearly benefit all.

The property market:

Jim Hanna writes: Re. “Residential housing market losing its froth” (Friday, item 22).  The Demographia survey gained a lot of attention when it was released, but it lacks credibility for several reasons.

It only looks at six countries — all of them English-speaking — and it only includes the prices of free-standing houses.

It excludes all other housing types which dominate global cities such as apartments, townhouses and flats.

As I’m sure you’d appreciate, this distorts the picture considerably against Australian cities for two reasons:

  1. Australian cities have a much higher proportion of free-standing houses near the CBD, where — as you would expect — property tends to be more expensive. In major overseas cities (especially in the US), medium and high density living is the norm near the CBD, so houses overseas are going to appear cheaper because you have to go much further out before you can find one.
  2. In Australian cities, our flats, townhouses and apartments are generally more affordable than free-standing houses. Had Demographia included the prices of flats, townhouses and apartments in its survey, it would have lowered the median price of housing in Australian capitals and no doubt raised the median price of housing in other cities.

Readers should also be aware that the median house price in many US cities has plunged because of the sub prime mortgage crisis — to the point where it’s possible to buy a free-standing 4-bedroom house a Los Angeles suburb for $1000.

Little wonder the median price in LA has plummeted from around $A700,000 in 2007 to around $A400,000 today.

One more thing — the median price of a freestanding house in London is about GBP800,000 (according to home.co.uk) or about $A1.4 million — considerably more than double the median house price in Sydney.

Neil Appleby writes: It’s getting almost as tiresome as the climate change denialists in Crikey. I’m referring to Adam Schwab’s weekly doom and gloom property pronouncements. Adam seems unable to see anything positive on the housing front; ever.

When property fell only 5% or so in 2008, Adam predicted a catastrophe wasn’t far off because it had happened everywhere else and how could we escape the inevitable?

Adam hitched his billy cart to Steve Keen’s steaming locomotive and watched as that too ran out of puff and credibility. And as Melbourne and Darwin led a remarkable housing recovery in 2009, Adam changed tack and started on about debt and house price to income ratios.

Chris Joye and the RBA blew those arguments out of the water too, but Adam bangs-on regardless.

Peter Fray

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