Yarra Climate Action Now:

Pablo Brait, Yarra Climate Action Now, writes: Re. “Rudd and the battle for Melbourne: ‘I’m more progressive than you are’” (yesterday, item 6). Andrew Crook has incorrectly described our group as a “Greens ginger group” in his most recent Crikey piece.

Yarra Climate Action Now is a small community group that is politically non-partisan. We are not affiliated with any political party. We support policies, not parties, and will support whichever party or parties put forward policies that will help avoid runaway climate change.


Simon Westaway, Head of Corporate Relations, Jetstar Airways, writes: Re. “Tips and rumours” (yesterday, item 8). The Crikey tip is wrong. There have been no briefings for either Jetstar or Qantas employees regarding future B787 operations with respect to what is alleged in the rumour.

The B787 will initially be operated for the Qantas Group by Jetstar and they will replace our existing A330-200 Jetstar international fleet (to number 9 by March 2011). The first Dreamliner is due for entry into Jetstar’s operations in mid 2012. Envisaged to operate on existing Jetstar routes served by our A330 fleet the rollout of Dreamliner operations has yet to be determined.

Jetstar has recently held an Expression of Interest (EOI) for pilots to operate our next two A330-200 aircraft (number 8 and 9) that will be positioned in Singapore, Under the EOI, those Jetstar pilots who take up this opportunity will be on leave without pay (LWOP) from their existing arrangements.

Its effect will be of great benefit for our Pilot community, by example, through the creation of new A330 Captain positions in Singapore.

The election:

Guy Rundle  writes: Re. “Rundle: you call this democracy? It’s time to start again” (yesterday, item 3). Yesterday, after my piece on the farcical recent history of Australian “democracy”, with the election of sub 50%+1 governments in 1990 and 1998, someone wrote to remind me that sub 50%+1 governments also occurred in 1954, 1961 and 1969.

These results all denying the ALP rightful power — occurred of course because there was a weighting of 20% towards rural seats (changed to 10% in 1974, abolished in 1984), so was the result of deliberate undemocratic malapportionment, rather than as an unintended result.

Nevertheless it’s worth pointing out for two reasons to remind ourselves that the ancestor-worship of our Sir Robert as some spiritual representative of the Australian dreaming is bullshit, and that the majority of people, unlike Lady Mary Fairfax, wanted Menzies off their backs. I leave readers to contemplate how different our history would be if the sequence had been Chifley, Menzies, Evatt, Hasluck, Calwell, Holt/Gorton, with Whitlam in 1969 instead of 72 instead of what transpired.

But more important is to point out that the 1990 and 1998 results occurred after we had reformed the frikkin’ thing (instituting a maximum demographic variation of 10% in electorates). Seriously, how can this be allowed to persist? We may find out after Saturday.

Glen Fergus writes: Re. “Climate change: one-on-one with the elephant in the room” (Wednesday, item 10). Crikey is quick to criticise others for missing the big issues in this campaign. But what about the ones that you’ve ignored?  Try:

1. Australia’s relationship with our region. This only rated a mention when the bleeding heart wanted to talk asylum-seekers and where not to put them — like in the micro-state of Nauru (pop. ~10,000), or on Timor-Leste (pop. ~1M).  But the big one, the only country with which we have what amounts to a border (10 minutes in a tinny), never got a mention.

That’s Papua New Guinea; population around 7M, and exploding; AIDS infection rate above one in a hundred, and exploding; governance disgraceful; school system collapsing; corruption rife.  And we’re quietly running a resources boom there of the kind that has destroyed stronger states.

2. Peak Oil.  Australia’s self-sufficiency in this commodity is in a state of collapse, so we’ll be right there at the front line of the coming global scramble for the little that’s left on the export market.  At Wednesday night’s forum’s, Mr Abbott had this to say in answer to a question on a matter critical to our country’s future:

“Ok, well, you know, the interesting thing about oil reserves is that they’re always being expanded. I mean, at any one time, people think we have say 20 or 30 years of oil reserves. 20 or 30 years later, people still think we have 20, 30, 40 or 50 years of oil reserves, as the case may be and the reason for that is because as the technology changes, more reserves become accessible, and as the price changes, reserves that weren’t really accessible become more accessible.

So, look, I know about the concept of peak oil. I don’t claim to be the world’s greatest expert in it, but I’m sceptical as to its value as a tool for policy makers because at the right price, we’ve got a lot more reserves than we currently think. With better technology, we’ve got a lot more reserves than we currently think.”

He meant, maybe, “I’m not a tech-head on this” … or was it, “That’s absolute crap”?

John Carmody writes: Re. “Coalition’s infrastructure policy: good if you’re paranoid about debt” (Wednesday, item 2). What does Bernard Keane really mean when he writes, “There’s no need for an Infrastructure Australia CBA to be done on that project — it’s already been done by the Australian Rail Track Corporation, and it shows the costs significantly outweigh the benefits for a couple of decades”.

For only a couple of decades yet he seems to think that’s an argument against the railway.  Does he expect an immediate return on infrastructure?  Come to mention it, does he expect an immediate return on the sewerage system or does he believe that it’s reasonable for a community to decide that certain such items are a nett “good” whether or not accountants think that they’re profitable?

Getting a lot of heavy trucks off the road or a reduction of motor vehicle or aircraft pollution might also be “goods” to be considered “profit” in terms of enhanced social capital.

And what can Jason Whittaker possibly mean us to understand when, in his background piece on Bob Katter (“Well hung: profiling the all-powerful independents (Bob’s voting for survival)“, Wednesday, item 3), he wrote about the result of the last election, “A count conducted for informational purposes after the latter election showed the Nationals would have defeated Labor with a 7.5% margin if Katter’s preferences were distributed.”

Does this mean to assert what the result would have been were Katter not a candidate?  If so it’s really nonsense.  How many potential ALP voters habitually vote for Katter because he’s colourful, a patriotic “local”, a maverick, a “stirrer” or for any other reason?

Of course, it’s possible that, in his absence, the Liberal-Nationals would win the seat — but certainly not on the grounds which Whittaker avers.  They might also not win it: neither proposition has been robustly tested so judgments cannot be passed.

Joe Gyngell  writes: Re. Yesterday’s Editorial. Crikey wrote: “No time to work out how they diddled the numbers, just the take home message: our surplus is bigger than their surplus. Sing it.”

Full marks Crikey — a Mclusky reference in the context of the Australian Election! It also nicely sums up Labor’s backtracking on environmental policy — “To Hell with Good Intentions”.

Rosemary Swift writes: It’s been a grim few weeks, but the ABC Interpretive Dance Bandicoot, the SBS Trilobite and particularly yesterday’s Fake Steve Fielding have injected some much need levity and made slogging through the rest of it all worthwhile.  The slough of despondency momentarily lifted and for that my thanks!

Health care:

Ignaz Amrein writes: With the cost of healthcare rising every year, drugs are one of the reasons for it. Maybe the time has come to investigate if we get value for money. Unfortunately the mass media seems to shy away to seriously look into it, especially since their advertising revenue has been shrinking.

Lucky for us, Crikey doesn’t hesitate to publish real information about anything that helps us, the public, to see through the spin of those who don’t want us to know. Here’s a link to a Telegraph article that could get the ball rolling.

Climate change:

Stephen O’Connor writes: Ken Lambert (yesterday, comments)  is right: there’s no need to panic about global warming because it sorta doesn’t exist and if it does it’ll bring more rain — stick that in your pipe Tim Flannery!

I’ve never heard so much pseudo-science babble.

Until recently, Russia’s president also thought that climate change would be sweet, bringing all that extra warmth to their frozen corner of the globe. He sure changed his tune after hundreds of wildfires destroyed their wheat crops and temperatures up to 18°C above average in parts of Moscow killed thousands.

After their record-breaking temperatures earlier this year, Pakistan sorely needed rain but instead got biblical-scale floods caused by a combination of changing circulation patterns and a warmer atmosphere that holds more water.

This is with a global warming of just 0.8°C. We’re locked-in for a lot more and we have a vanishing chance of keeping below 2°C. There’s a very real and disturbing possibility that amplifying feedbacks will kick-in and we won’t be able to stop the planet crossing irreversible tipping-points.

So we can listen to the rising chorus of alarm from thousands of scientists who spend every day working on this issue, or we can listen to the Ken Lamberts of this world who just can’t abide the thought that we could be causing this: first through our ignorance and now through our impotence.

Adam Rope writes: Ken Lambert — a long time contributor to the Climate Change Cage Match and Skeptical Science — wrote yesterday that “Climategate has put beyond doubt the manipulation by key advocacy scientists to s-x-up the AGW story by stacking committees and smothering dissenting scientific views in learned journals.”

Or alternatively, in the non-conspiracy theorist real world, real scientists, undertaking real scientific research into such topics as climate change, are trying to protect the good name of science, and especially those ‘learned journals’, from ideologically driven pseudo-science.

Specifically I’m thinking of the dodgy science that only deserves publication on the World Wide Web on the multitude of denier sites, like the always hilarious Jo Nova, or the weather forecasters version of science found at What’s up with that, and myriad others.

It’s called peer review for a reason Ken, and has served science, and scientific publications, well for hundreds of years.