Martyn Smith writes: Re. “Plebiscite a key to making Abbott’s life easier” (yesterday, item 1). Bernard Keane expertly dissected the Abbott style of politics in his article yesterday. I wonder, “How long will Abbott last before becoming political road-kill and how many of his clique will go down with him?”

However, I part with Bernard’s assessment of Labor’s chances at the next election. Whilst a week is a long time in politics a couple of years is an age. Despite Labor’s many stumbles, by then the so-called “Carbon Tax” will be operational and working and the world will not have come to an end, the NBN roll-out will be showing results, the luckless asylum seekers will probably be off the agenda, big tobacco will have taken a “hit” and the “Lucky Country” will be nearing a surplus.

As Abbott and his pals become discredited and the Liberals start to brawl amongst themselves, the media heat, apart from the magnificently self-obsessed Chris Mitchell’s rag,  should be taken away from Labor. This is all hypothetical, but quite possible and so I don’t think Bernard should write Labor off just yet.

They do seem to have a death wish but have some good policies that may yet save them.

Rod Banyard writes: Bernard Keane wrote:

“What makes it worse for the Coalition is that the Government’s scheme will include at the very least increased payments to pensioners and low income earners, and possibly some tax cuts, which will either have to be withdrawn on the repeal of a carbon pricing scheme or offset by big spending cuts elsewhere.

That’s why an Abbott Government would make an at-best half-hearted attempt to repeal the scheme, but not press the issue when the Greens used the balance of power in the Senate to defeat the repeal bill. Honour would have been satisfied — the Liberals would have tried to repeal it, but failed, and thereafter could quietly get on with life under an emissions trading scheme.”

Where does the money for the low income earners come from when the Labor government changes from a emission pricing scheme to an emission trading scheme?  Will there continue to be a $20/tonne(?) price on emissions as well as a trade in emission entitlements?  I thought they were mutually exclusive?

Beware of Greeks bearing debt:

Niall Clugston writes: Re. “Rundle: shepherds, portents and Europe face-to-face in Athens” (yesterday, item 5). It’s irrational to expect some of the poorest people in Europe to pay for a crisis triggered by American financiers.

But the Greek crisis is even crazier than that. The two options being proposed are a default and a bailout. A bailout means giving Greece even more loans. Well, if they can’t pay off their existing debts, how will they pay more?  So the two options are really a blatant default and a disguised default.

The so-called bailout is a default where token payment is made and the rest of the payment is deferred indefinitely, and this is disguised by using new debt to pay off old debt.

But really immediate default is Greece’s best option. Argentina defaulted and is still getting loans. The danger for the banks is for more and more countries to realise that they don’t need to pay back their debts and that the banks need them more than they need the banks. Without debtors banks are dead. And that’s the “contagion” that could destroy the global financial system.

Chris Mitchell:

Jim Hart writes: Re. “Mitchell’s ‘magnificent obsession’: the man behind The Oz” (yesterday, item 2). Like most media organisations Crikey likes nothing better than to write endlessly about other media organisations. All the more reason that in doing so you should try observe some of the basic rules of journalism.

You guys may know instinctively and subconsciously who “Mitchell” refers to in an article about The Australian, but for the rest of us it would still be polite, not to mention professional, to give his full name and title with the first reference, not in a later paragraph.

Picky of me I know but at least it shows someone read the first dozen paragraphs before hitting <page down>…


Gavin Greenoak writes: Re. “The case for plain packaging of tobacco” (yesterday, item 10). It seems that there are approximately 4 million smokers in Australia racking up a health cost of $35 billion. Each smoker is costing $8,750. The tax on a packet of 20 Peter Stuyvesant ($13.20) is 62.5% = $8.25 per packet.

The health cost per smoker would require the purchase of 1061 packets, which at a pack a day would take around three years. But each of the 4 million smokers only has to purchase 18 packets of Peter Stuyvesant cigarettes to make up the $6 billion tax revenue. And these 18 packets (x20 = 360 cigarettes) per smoker are the official cause of $35 billion of health costs.

I look forward to being summarily corrected.

Peter Fray

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