News wars:

Channel Seven spokesperson Simon Francis writes: Thanks for not asking prior to publication of the rumour on Tuesday questioning why Chris Bath wasn’t presenting the bulletin. FYI, she is hosting the RSL’s Spirit of Kokoda Awards in Melbourne. It’s for young people. She has been hosting the event since 2007. Arrangements were made in May for her to do this.

Murray-Darling Basin:

Peter Rosier writes: Re. “MDB stakeholders call for RSPT-style campaign against government” (yesterday, item 1). I generally regard Bernard Keane as having a good nose for the politics of a situation, but he is a bit wide of the mark when he describes the MDB irrigator’s group as likely to cause the same sort of upset as the miners did (thank you, yellow bellies!) with the RSPT.

Why? Well, it’s because the irrigators aren’t the only ones with passion on the issue — and the opposition to the water guzzlers have plenty of wit on how to undo  the effects of a campaign based on deception and fear.

Irrigators will need to be prepared to waste money they say they don’t have — that’s their public position, what with the drought and all that and they certainly don’t have the very deep pockets of the miners — because they will find that the very effective efforts of the greens and their allies will dilute the guzzler’s message to homeopathic levels.

Bullsh-t exposed to the atmosphere tends to dry to dust.


Michael R. James writes: Re. “CBA’s power play on the Hazelwood lemon” (yesterday, item 23).As Giles Parkinson wrote yesterday the CBA has revealed the Emperor’s clothes that drape the ancient polluter and their owners.

This should not surprise Crikey readers because the double bluff orchestrated between International Power and the Brumby government to do the Federal government and all tax payers out of one to two billion dollars, has finally been called by the money men but was pointed out three months ago here (by this writer).

The £133 million (A$226M) annual profit will not cover the likely minimum Carbon Tax which, at $20 per tonne, could amount to $320M for the plant’s (all 8 generators) output of 16Mt CO2e per annum. The specious case for “compensation” rests upon the Vic government’s extension of the 40 year old Hazelwood’s license to operate/pollute to 1936.

Why does Brumby persist with this transparent scam to enrich the mostly British shareholders of IP? Because it could seriously boost his credentials, not to mention very public promises, to make Victoria green.  Hazelwood’s carbon output represents about 3 per cent of national emissions.

For the same reason it could even appeal to the Federal government since in one fell blow it could make a giant stride towards its (minimalist) 5% reduction goal (note this is relative to year 2000 so I am not implying Hazelwood would account for 60% of this). Doubly clever if Brumby gets the Feds to pay for most of it! The only weird and unsupportable notion is that it should be treated as compensation and at an extraterrestrial valuation like $2 billion.

At the time of our earlier article, Jim Kouts, Group Manager, Corporate Affairs, International Power Australia, complained that Crikey was “publishing these blatantly incorrect assertions”. We made a comprehensive reply but it is nice to have the CBA on our side of the argument (and how often does one get to say that!). Environment Victoria said yesterday “the write-down paved the way for the state and federal governments to close the entire Hazelwood plant sooner than planned.” (I would just add that technically it is a decision for IP.)

But Mr Kouts continues to wear those golden threads. The Age reported him as saying “the Commonwealth Bank decision would have no effect on the overall value of Hazelwood.” Of course back then we cannot claim foresight that the election would deliver a minority government with the Greens in a powerful position making a carbon tax much more likely.

Howard et al:

Marcus L’Estrange writes: Re. “Talkin’ the Town: the band’s back together for Howard’s last lap” (yesterday, item 4). I’m still shaking my head. Former Socialist Left Minister Nick Bolkus, who clearly deserves a doctorate in how an MP should claim travel allowances, now in bed with a member of the Australia’s aristocracy, Alexander Downer, in their “Bespoke Approach” political consultancy group. This is the same as Labour and Capital now engaging in a group hug. What is the world coming to?

Barry Everingham writes: Lighten up Marcus Vernon (yesterday, comments) — Janette  behaved as though she was the co PM; you know that and the Libs certainly did. Policy was run past her for comment, approval or otherwise. She got into the bear pit mate and should take the ridicule she attracts. “Having balls” is of a course a figure of speech — and had no relationship to her cervical cancer.


L M McIntire writes: Why does Keith Perkins (yesterday, comments) feel the need to use the average number of Australian war dead to urge opposition to the war in Afghanistan?  He argues that 102,000 war dead in 150 years average 686 dead a year and that this is so horrible a figure that we should all become pacifists.

If I take out the dead in the two world wars we get 1,575 dead in 140 years or an average of 11 dead a year, and if we remove the wars with the next worst death tolls, Vietnam, South Africa and Korea, we get 125 deaths in 121 years or an average of “only” 1 war dead a year.

That over 100,000 Australians were killed in two world wars is not an argument against the war in Afghanistan. There are good arguments against this war — and against all war. He should try to use them.

Strictly Speaking:

Dave Horsfall writes:  Re. “Last night’s TV ratings” (yesterday, item 20). What is it with Glenn Dyer and his angst over Strictly Speaking?  It’s great viewing for anyone even vaguely interested in speaking.

I challenge him to come up with a 1-minute speech on a topic he’s never heard before; in Toastmasters that’s called “Table Topics” and we actually have contests on it. As a Judge of long-standing, I found the speeches to be generally good, and I tend to agree with the panel’s decisions.

Pink faced:

Gabriel McGrath writes: Re. “Media briefs: The Age’s downsizing … circ pressure mounts … Pink-faced on apology …” (yesterday, item 19). Hey Crikey, we all enjoy a good laugh at “mistakes in ads”, but wow, your “Media Briefs” writer has really goofed things up today.

They insinuated that the Tocumwal Golf Club had promised Bon Jovi and P!nk were performing at their club. Rubbish. The advert clearly says “The Bon Jovi and P!nk Experience”. That’s obviously a cover show –– as per “The Pink Floyd Experience”, “The Jimi Hendrix Experience etc etc etc  …a constant feature at pubs ‘n’ clubs around the country.

Even if you don’t pay attention to gig guides, do you think P!nk  & Bon Jovi are struggling so much these days, they’ve had to combine forces and perform — with free entry — at small rural venues?

If that wasn’t enough of a hint, the apology (which you printed) makes it clear the club was sorry for running the ad two weeks late. They weren’t apologising for “suggesting the original performers were attending”.

By the way Media Briefs, I’ve booked Elvis for my party this Friday.  He’ll be on at 9pm, just after Michael Hutchence. I’ll get you autographs if you can’t make it.

Peter Fray

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