Telstra:

Rod Bruem, Corporate Affairs Manager – Telstra Business, writes: Re. “Tips and rumours” (Friday, item 8). Re. your item alleging Telstra had “suddenly and without warning” imposed limits on the number of emails business customers could send per hour, without warning, this is not the case.

To protect consumers from spam, telcos generally impose limits on most email applications, but they are generous. Even these will still allow up to 12,000 or more emails to be sent in any day.  Telstra Business provides commercial solutions to those businesses needing greater capacity.

headspace:

Chris Tanti, Chief Executive Officer, headspace, writes: Re. “Mental health, suicide prevention red-hot national political issues” (3 March, item 16). We know the mental health sector is underfunded and continue to call for increased funding. Both sides of government are clear on our position in this regard. But it is inaccurate to suggest that headspace is not delivering help to young people that was envisaged when the headspace model was established.

headspace has helped more than 37,000 young people so far and 96 per cent of our clients value the service.

Importantly headspace has been very successful engaging two groups that are traditionally hard to reach. Young men make up 42 percent of our clients and 7 percent are Indigenous Australians — well above the mental health sector average.

Mendoza is also misinformed about headspace funding. Funds have not been taken or transferred from the 30 existing centres to meet the governments’ target to operate up to 60 centres over the next three years. Additional funding has been received to open these new centres, 10 of which are due to open later this year. Funding was also received to boost the capacity of the majority of existing centres. These funds have already been distributed to these centres.

Finally, it is rare that clients are charged for our services.

I suggest that Mendoza visits one of our centres to really understand the positive difference our services are making to the lives of thousands of young people.

Carbon tax:

John Richardson writes: Re. “Memo to Ridout: big biz can look after themselves on carbon” (Friday, item 3). John Dowse has provided a more balanced and realistic assessment of the real exposure to big business of ever-increasing electricity costs, in sharp contrast to AIG (Australian Industry Group) and the ACCI (Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry).

Big business in this country long ago developed a fool-proof response to any government initiative that might threaten its privileged position in our society: scream like stuck pigs, claim the sky is falling and that we’ll all be “rooned”. The banks do it; the mining, pharmaceutical, media, gambling, liquor and retail sectors all do it and inevitably governments try and appease these struggling and dreadfully disadvantaged groups by offering “assistance”, a la corporate socialism.

What John Dowse didn’t do was to explain just how tilted the playing field already is in favour of the big end of town. Whilst myriad families and small businesses in NSW have struggled to keep pace with the explosion in electricity prices over the past few years, big business has quietly enjoyed a free ride. Whilst the average punter has had to wear the government’s ongoing acts of extortion, government agencies and big business are able to negotiate supply contracts, excluding them from the impact of price increases visited on most everyone-else.

Giant power-guzzling businesses like Woolworths, Coles and the Cadia Valley gold mining operation near Orange, owned by one of the world’s top 10 mining conglomerates, Newcrest Mining, said to consume almost 1% of the entire amount of electricity generated in NSW, are all members of this privileged elite. Whilst NSW taxpayers might be looking forward to crucifying Labour at this month’s state election, they would be foolish in the extreme to think that life will get any easier for them under a coalition government or that the systemic privileges currently extended to big business will disappear.

The fact is, some things never change.

NSW election:

Niall Clugston writes: Re. “NSW election: Treasurer’s debate and the Humpty Dumpty connection” (Friday, item 14). Well, Margot Saville joins a long list of journalists who know nothing about greater Sydney or its railways.

Firstly, on the delayed Parramatta-Epping Rail Link, she claims “The reason it has never been built is that too much of it runs through Liberal electorates — what is the point of spending money on people who don’t vote for you?”

In fact, the proposed line only runs through two electorates, Parramatta and Epping, the former Labor-held, the latter Liberal. Moreover, its main customers would be people in the Labor-voting west commuting north.

And rather than being a “broken promise”, Labor has recently reaffirmed its commitment to build the link.  The first part of the original project, the link between Epping and Chatswood, was delivered, but it runs exclusively through Liberal territory!

Secondly, Saville reports, “Penrith’s distance from the CBD and lack of public transport meant that we all drove there”.  In fact, Penrith is a major station on the Western Line and is served by both suburban trains and the Blue Mountains express.

Bradley Manning:

Guy Rundle writes: I take some of Tony Kevin’s points (Friday, comments), but he hasn’t read me very carefully on Bradley Manning. I clearly said that his presumed act of taking massive amounts of documents from the SIPR website, was one done from genuine political reasons, and that his conditions on remand amounted to torture. He “erred” in telling Lamo about it, i.e. human vulnerability got him, in a manner familiar to whistleblowers everywhere.

I don’t have a problem with what Manning allegedly did, but it is impossible to claim a “conscience” defence for leaking half a million documents, many of them mundane. Its aim and effect is as a blow against existing state-public relations, and the assumptions about who can legitimately know what.

The only absolute defense for such an act, would be an anarchist one, which thereby doesn’t recognise the legitimacy of state courts. To suggest the state can realistically absolve someone who is making a categorical attack on its power is to misunderstand what a state is. Manning’s lawyers may well get him acquitted on any number of grounds, but that seems highly unlikely.

In terms of his remand and subsequent possible sentencing, his welfare might be best served by demanding the state use its power to acknowledge the humanity of an adversary, not to pretend that all politics can be contained within a civil sphere (although clearly there is a conscience defence available on some of the material). Since Kevin has written a book praising Keynesian policies, he clearly believes in the role of an affirmative state. Does he believe such a state could function while being indifferent to the distribution of policy and operational information?

Ice cream:

Wayne Robinson writes: I’ve been following the ice-cream debate for several days, and I must admit I’ve never read such rubbish.  Everyone knows that foods of the same colour have exactly the same number of calories, so spearmint ice-cream has as few calories as celery, so it’s actually a health food.  And because brown is a universal colour (it can stand in for any colour)’ chocolate ice-cream is actually the best.

Peter Fray

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