Sunrise and Operation Bounce Back:

Adam Boland, former Executive Producer of Sunrise and consultant to Seven, writes: Re. “Media briefs: Gold Coast Bulletin editor branches out … new News of the World phone saga twist … Comcast & NBC merge…” (yesterday, item 18). Wow — what a mean spirited piece in yesterday’s Crikey.

Ignore the factual errors — firstly, it was Sam Armytage not Natalie Barr. One is blonde — and one is a brunette. Secondly, we won Brisbane — not them.

But am I to understand you don’t want us to help?

Does the fact that many of Seven’s major sponsors have now signed up to donate hundreds of thousands of dollars in goods mean anything to you?  Does the fact that people are getting off their arse to help on targeted missions mean nothing?

Nah, you’re right — keep kicking. Would expect nothing more from you during a time of national need.

By the way, can we expect a link from your website to the operation? Or perhaps your intern might want to pick up a shovel.

Melanie Farris writes: I watched it too. To be fair to Sunrise, they did the same thing after a Cyclone Larry in 2006 and it was a great success. To be fair to Anna Bligh, the idea seemed completely sprung on her and her first reaction to Kochie was actually something along the lines of “well anything would have to be coordinated with the operations already in place who are already doing a great job”.

Sunrise want to do something good, and yes they want ratings too, but who cares really, they will get tradesmen where they need to be and it will help people who need it. I don’t doubt Kochie’s authenticity in the slightest.

It’s way too early in the year for you to be this cynical, Crikey!

Labor and the surplus trap:

Terry J Mills writes: Re. “How Labor found itself in a surplus trap” (yesterday, item 1). The government are very much aware of the politics of  surplus and they are conscious of the damage that was done to them during the 2010 election by the coalition’s successful scare campaign, ranging from Barnaby Joyce’s shrill declarations that we were on the verge of defaulting on our international loan obligations to the oft repeated mantra that the government were borrowing $100 million per day from — implicitly dodgy — overseas banks.

This ploy worked well for the opposition and it would be hard to see them dropping it now.

Let’s assume, however, that the government did heed the advice from industry and economists and forget about or reschedule the return to surplus, they could realistically only do this if Abbott ,Hockey and Turnbull came out and said that this would be their policy in government; don’t hold your breath.

Glen Frost writes: You bag the current Federal Labor Government for being obsessed by tight financial management, seeking AAA credit ratings and budget surpluses. You might find the voters, and taxpayers, think that this is a good thing.

UK “New Labour” just got booted from office for not looking after the finances and borrowing too much. The Conservative/liberal coalition won because people (a) hated Brown, and (b) wanted competent financial management.

Australian Labor are merely operating with “world’s best governance practice” to use a buzzword bingo phrase.

Patrick Emery writes: As I’m not an economist, I offer no substantive comment on Bernard Keane’s critique of the both major parties’ aversion to the concept of a budget deficit. I do, however, take issue with the use of the modern corporate term “around”. Keane suggests “a more intelligent debate … would be around the need to roll back expenditure in politically-sensitive areas to get the Budget on a sustainable footing over the long-term.”

What is so offensive about encouraging a debate on the identified topic, rather than around?  Talking “around” a subject is what someone may do to avoid any substantive analysis — for example, a disaffected partner in a dysfunctional relationship unable to formally cut ties.

Yes, this is linguistic pedantry, but if post-modernism has taught us anything, it is that language creates social reality. The longer we indulge in this perverse discursive fiction of talking “around” topics, the longer we will avoid genuinely confronting difficult social, political and economic challenges.

Les Wilcox writes: I commend your publishing of this article but often wonder why the media and the Federal opposition sell the story to the public that a deficit is a bad thing for the economy.

Frankly, in most cases a deficit is exactly what a country (with a sovereign currency) needs to keep the economy ticking over.

However the media, in reporting and commenting on a federal deficit often leave the general public with a view that a deficit is a DEBT and a DEBT is a bad thing.

Queensland floods:

Beryce Nelson writes: Re. “Emergency response needed for more than floods ...” (yesterday, item 9).Now that the waters are starting to recede the mud-slinging will surely start in earnest. Everyone will have an expert opinion and will want instant answers without even knowing the questions. When did we become a nation so hell-bent on pointing the finger of blame? Well, I certainly won’t be doing so.

In my little part of the world that time and the media forgot we were also pretty hard hit but were (still are) so very grateful for the amazing work done by the Police, Emergency Services and Defence Personnel, Red Cross, Main Roads, the RSL the many churches and countless individuals.

From my perspective the only thing any state or federal inquiry would be able to determine is:

  • that it was the biggest long-term heavy rainfall (July 2010 to January 2011) and consequent major flood event in the nation’s history since European settlement;
  • that without the Wivenhoe Dam the impact of the flooding  on a booming population in SEQ would have been dramatically worse;
  • that the water releases from Somerset and Wivenhoe Dams were carefully managed and done in the best interests of everyone living in the affected regions;
  • that more people have died and more still missing as a result of the floods from North and Central Queensland to the border than has currently been reported;
  • that these sorts of events will continue to occur from time to time as a consequence of our direct interference with the climate through over-population and pollution; and
  • that perhaps we should re-consider our need to keep building and rebuilding major cities close to rivers now that the steamship era is well and truly over.

My thanks to the various levels of government and their agencies which have shown us their true worth in these difficult weeks — and to all our lovely family and friends who have stayed in constant contact. It has made all the difference.

Let’s not spoil what we have resurrected with a bout of cheap political point-scoring. It would be an insult to our intelligence and a further blow to our already fragile emotions.

GST:

Brian Fletcher writes: Re. “Rosenbloom: PM is using weasel words on the GST-equity debate” (Tuesday, item 20).  No one has mentioned the TRS ( Tourist Refund Scheme). Why do we continue with this rort? What is the value lost in GST collection?

Ireland:

Edmund Maher writes: Re. “Rundle’s British Isles bites: Assange to the Frontline … Labour Lord’s it over Tories … Another Ireland crisis …” (yesterday, item 13). I don’t find anything funny in Guy Rundle’s story about “blowing a hole in the Euro” if there is a change of Government in Ireland. As an Irishman who financed his retirement pension and is paid in Euros (which have collapsed in value against the AUS$) that is not funny at all.

Climate change:

Ian Lowe writes: Your resident denialist, Tamas Calderwood (yesterday, comments), wrote:

“So I checked the IPCC’s AR4 Impacts summary paper and it confirmed Australia would see ‘increases in the severity and frequency of storms and coastal flooding by 2050’ (page 13). But then, only two paragraphs before this, the same IPCC report states that ‘as a result of reduced precipitation and increased evaporation, water security problems are projected to intensify by 2030 in southern and eastern Australia’. Thus, more rain AND less rain according to the IPCC. “

This is presumably a deliberate misunderstanding of the IPCC report, which simply re-states what the climate science has been saying for 25 years: as well as increasing average temperatures, rising sea levels and changing rainfall patterns, we can expect more frequent extremes: extended periods of low rainfall, more intense rainfall events causing flooding, more severe heatwaves and worse bushfires.

All of these changes have been observed.

The worry is that recent extreme events are happening when the average global temperature has increased by about 0.8 degrees; if the denialist fringe continue to have their way, we face 3 or 4 degrees of average warming, which means 6 degrees for inland Australia and catastrophic consequences.

Plans to expand coal mining, coal-fired electricity and coal seam gas production are, in the context of climate change, totally irresponsible.

Peter Fray

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