The Government:

Andrew Brooke writes: Re. “Coalition is playing hard, smart politics on the speakership” (yesterday, item 10). Bernard Keane’s question yesterday — “Does anyone seriously think a CBA will change the views of a single person about the NBN?” — doesn’t hold up.

There are plenty of voters out there who are vaguely positive about the NBN. They’re loosely convinced about the need for a proper one but unable to explain exactly why we need it.  There are good reasons why we need it, but Conroy and Labor are yet to articulate them properly. This leaves these voters vulnerable to the Coalition’s attack strategy.

We saw the results of Labor’s timid and mealy-mouthed approach to selling the CPRS. Result — the Coalition’s attacks got to those voters who wanted “something to be done” but in end couldn’t see why the answer was a CPRS. The loosely-convinced became unconvinced.

If Labor does not come out all guns blazing to defend the NBN and promote it relentlessly, the Coalition attacks will have the same effect there.  Average voters need to be able to explain why we must have fibre, why it must be faster than we currently “need”, and why it should cost (say) 43 billion. They can’t explain this if Labor won’t explain it properly themselves. A CBA is not the way to explain it, but as long as Labor remain silent, the CBA argument will get traction. No-one likes losing an argument in a pub, and Labor is setting itself up to lose arguments in pubs nationwide.

Labor needs to take a leaf from the Liberals’ playbook: start playing harder and smarter. Get out there and sell the thing properly, and start acting like a Government, not a small-target Opposition.

Roger Davenport writes: I thought there might have been a glimmer of hope that this hung Parliament might manage to resolve some of the issues that have been tied to the political Football for years. Julia Gillard and the hatchet men, Tony Abbott and his puppeteers (another word for faceless men) don’t seem to realise that the vast majority of Australian voters are sick to death hearing how one side has failed while in power. Then when an opposition takes the power away from the incumbents the issues still continue.

We are now told that the Westminster system is an adversarial style of politics, and cooperation and consensus is not the way to play the game. It might suit the ambitions of some politicians, but is it good for Australia, I think not. Look after the people for once, try starting with the health system and see what you both can agree on. The health system has been in a mess since the late 80’s if not earlier and steadily getting worse.

The rot was probably pushed along when big business started investing in health care. Practitioners working for these groups were given targets to meet.  Other factors are the high cost of litigation insurance and over servicing by doctors for fear that the lawyers will say that insufficient tests failed their client.

Wouldn’t it be fantastic if I could send a letter congratulating both leaders on their success; however I am not holding my breath?


Ben Freund, CEO of, writes: Re. “Impartial advice from connection services? It’s just not TRU” (yesterday, item 4). Further to your article. I just wanted to confirm that GoSwitch is independently owned, and lists every available offer from every retailer, as well as offers that are exclusive to GoSwitch.

Our business model is based on transparency. Customers can see which is the cheapest plan on face value without the distraction of fancy fonts, preferential ordering or the like to promote one retailer over another.

All plans are listed, and when GoSwitch has no financial arrangement with a retailer to receive a commission if a customer chooses to switch to them the cheapest offers are published in their correct rankings regardless.


Matthew Powell writes: Re. “Ketchup not sauce? Boo f–king hoo … here’s a language to lament” (Wednesday, item 11).  My Victorian dad says ‘tram smash’. My NSW mum says ‘bus smash’. My grandma said ‘dead horse’. Nuff said.

Vic Labor and real estate:

Robert Larocca, Communications Manager, The Real Estate Institute of Victoria Ltd, writes: Re. “Tips and rumours” (yesterday, item 8). Crikey published: “In considering the lack of action by the Victorian Labor government on real estate-related matters (except for allowing developers to now rip 20% off mug buyers), you need to look no further than the rice-paper thin closeness of the REIV and the ALP — represented by no less than Robert LaRocca, an ALP apparatchik, and present chief lobbyist for the REIV. As well being a former Labor mayor, LaRocca was an adviser to a consumer affairs minister (Marsha Thomson) — and had direct influence over that agency. The very agency responsible for overseeing the real estate industry — Consumer Affairs Victoria.”  After opposition from a range of organizations the proposal to lift the maximum deposit for the off the plan sales in Victoria to 20 per cent was defeated by the Victorian Parliament’s Upper House around 2 weeks ago.