Correction I:

Steven Schwartz, Vice-Chancellor, Macquarie University, writes: Re. “Tips and rumours” (yesterday, item 8). For the second time in 10 days I have been the victim of character assassination by an anonymous contributor to the “Tips and Rumours” column of Crikey.

Each of these columns has contained numerous inaccuracies about the industrial dispute currently taking place at Macquarie University, and also malicious innuendo designed to damage my personal reputation.

Given Crikey‘s published aims of being fair and open in its journalism, here are some facts.

In recent industrial action by the NTEU about 6% of Macquarie University academics withheld students’ end-of-year exam marks. Some 94% of staff are not engaged in any industrial action whatsoever. The increasingly desperate 6% persist in attempting to demonise me. It’s a strategy that diminishes them more than me.

Correction II:

Crikey: Re. “Re. “Wilkie’s ‘disruption operation’ solution: sugar in the fuel tank?” (yesterday, item 2). An original version of this story described Andrew Wilkie as an ex-ASIO officer. He is an ex-ONA analyst. Furthermore, Jack Smit did not contest that the AFP sunk boats belonging to people smugglers in Indonesian waters.

Henry Ergas:

Henry Ergas writes: Re. “At last, the NBN Business Plan … and it’s um, just a business plan” (yesterday, item 1). I’ve just seen Bernard Keane’s article on the NBN. You cite our preliminary analysis, but do not cite the final form, which is here.

It is important to note that the projection is not of unit prices — it is of costs. That projection is based on Senator Conroy’s statement that the network would earn a commercial rate of return. We estimated that at about 13 percent; the Implementation Study broadly concurs; the Business Case seems to use a lower required commercial return, though it does not reconcile it to the Implementation Study. If you use a 10-14 per cent range, you get our estimate in all of the models, including the Business Case. In our modelling of takeup, as the paper explains, we assume lower prices initially, with unit revenues rising as use of higher speeds rises.

As a result, far from casting any doubt on our results, the modelling done subsequently seems to broadly confirm the validity of our cost estimates.

The difference, of course, is that the government has decided it does not require a commercial return, and hence has set the cost of capital to the bond rate. Whether that makes sense is obviously another matter, but it is important to be clear as to what is or is not at issue.

Obviously, it would be desirable for you to correct your report accordingly.

Julian Assange and WikiLeaks:

Ralph McKay writes: Re. “Rundle: police procedures ignored in Assange interviews” (yesterday, item 3). WikiLeaks is under mass attack from the dominant western powers. The new enemy is a transparency terrorist. The problem for governments is that this WikiLeaks transparency weapon is invincible. A week back with its Australian founder, Julian Assange, in detention WikiLeaks had 1334 mirror sites, midweek it had 1368 sites. Today it has 1424. WikiLeaks is thriving and the leaks keep flowing.

Accelerating omnipresence is difficult to hide. Anyone with a unix-based server can join the fight by making it a mirror site any time. With billions of friends WikiLeaks and its clones have always got a home.

There is one chance only for governments to defeat WikiLeaks. Starve it. Turn the Internet on itself. Rush to create a world government website with 192 divisions and publish all government secrets for all to see, before the enemy sees it. It’s the only rational response. All enlightened government leaders know it.

Transparent government — it’s destined to happen one way or another, as it should. Good government does not need a hidden murky core where injustice, corruption and wars germinate. Let the people see what they own. It’s a secret formula for justice and world peace.

Niall Clugston writes: Andrew Haughton (yesterday, comments) asks whether, under a law proposed to deal with WikiLeaks, “Vice President Cheney could be prosecuted retrospectively for leaking CIA operative Valerie Plame’s name”.

In fact, there is no need for retrospectivity:  the USA has had an Intelligence Identities Protection Act since 1982. This was introduced at the behest of George Bush Sr after ex-CIA officer Philip Agee wrote Inside the Company: CIA Diary, including a list of known spies as an appendix.

The law was invoked during the investigation of the Plame Affair, but no one was convicted for breaking it. What WikiLeaks is doing was done before, but not on this scale. It remains to be seen if Assange, like Agee, will end up seeking refuge in Cuba!

Michael Frazer writes: I am from Melbourne and have been reading that Julian Assange lived in Melbourne. Therefore there is only one MUST ask question to be put to him: “who do you barrack for in the AFL?” If he barracks for Collingwood, the USA can have him and do whatever they like.


David Edmunds writes: Re. “Mungo: Chris Mitchell and The Oz … it just ain’t cricket“(yesterday, item 17). Mungo MacCallum has understated the extraordinary self-indulgent piece in the Weekend Australian concerning how they were always right about Rudd et al, and everyone else was wrong.

I opened my copy of the paper intrigued to see how the paper would treat the report by Brad Orgill on the Building the Education Revolution (BER) project, that Bernard Keane had reported on in Thursday’s Crikey. The Weekend Australian had run a campaign for at least a year lambasting this project and using it as a centerpiece in a narrative defining Labor as quintessentially incompetent.

The Orgill report joins others including that of the Auditor General that describe the BER as stunningly successfully and run with quite surprising competence.

But the Weekend Australian, not a word. While producing bugger-all evidence that it was ahead of the curve in working out that Rudd had issues, it simply failed to mention that it had missed the major story, that is, that the Rudd government was basically competent, particularly when compared with its predecessor.

However, despite the extraordinary hypocrisy and poor journalism, one has the feeling that the editor is not much concerned, happy to exist in the bubble that increasingly defines the whole News Limited stable.

Westpac and the GFC:

Roy Ramage writes: Re. “Westpac stays ‘mum’ on emergency $1b loan from US Fed” (yesterday, item 21). A few months back one of our fellow Crikey readers questioned my criticism of our best practice banks. I had called for a full accounting of the GFC cost to our upright pillars. I hope that same reader can now see why it is so necessary. There will be more.

Climate change:

Viv Forbes, Chairman of the Carbon Sense Coalition, writes: The Global Warming Industry is booming because of billions of dollars from taxpayers and consumers. But it is all fraudulent.

The basic fraud is the unproven claim that man’s production of carbon dioxide causes dangerous global warming.

There is no evidence that carbon dioxide controls world temperature – just a theory and the manipulated results from a handful of unproven computer models.  The evidence from historical records shows that carbon dioxide does not control temperature. Rather the reverse – as solar or volcanic heat warms the oceans, the waters expel carbon dioxide. Global warming causes an increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide, not the reverse.

The second fraud is to claim that carbon dioxide is an air pollutant. It is the food for all plants and supports the whole food chain. It is not poisonous and more carbon dioxide makes plants grow faster and bigger and makes them more tolerant of drought, heat and salinity.

The third fraud is to claim that grazing animals increase atmospheric carbon. Any competent biologist can debunk this fraud by explaining the carbon food cycle.

The fourth fraud concerns the markets trading in hot air. The revelations of massive fraud in European carbon credits and the collapse of carbon trading on the Chicago Climate Exchange are harbingers of crises to come.

The fifth fraud is the solar/wind industry — it cannot survive without its special subsidies. To call these activities “industries” is a fraud — they are corporate mendicants.

Fraud six concerns carbon capture and storage. There are no benefits of burying atmospheric plant food from any source. With zero benefits and huge costs CCS is not “economic” and it is fraudulent to pretend it can ever be otherwise.

The bloated global warming industry rests on a pyramid of frauds in a foundation of quicksand.

Its inevitable collapse will hurt us more than the sub-prime crash.