Scott Hannaford, Editor, Sunday Canberra Times, writes: Re. “Memo troops: don’t get shot during a transport strike” (Monday, item 5). While I can’t speak for other media outlets, obviously Dr Shanahan didn’t bother to look too far before writing off the entire media’s response to the deaths of three diggers as “a joke”.

The fairly sketchy reports of the attacks came into our office after 11pm on Saturday night. Not only did we dump our page three lead, we remade our page one to ensure it had a strong presence there as well. We also amended our world pages copy and pointed to it from the page three story, all with less than half an hour until deadline.

Yes, Qantas was still our page one lead, but I’d hardly say our coverage reflected an editorial attitude “that the shooting of 10 of their number was more newsworthy than whether people are going to be able to fly to Melbourne for the Cup on Tuesday”.


Harold Levien writes: Re. “Post-grounding, now it’s the Qantas-Virgin bidding war” (yesterday, item 1). If Alan Joyce continues with his brinkmanship Qantas will almost certainly be destroyed as a truly Australian airline. The current intervention of Fair Work Australia could have a doubtful outcome.

Qantas’ offshoring objectives will not be acceptable to the unions and should not be acceptable to the Australian government or nation. The principal objective of the government and the nation should be to preserve Qantas as an Australian manned and serviced airline in the national interest. The only certain way of achieving this is to restore public ownership.

It would be relatively easy to  acquire a controlling interest in Qantas by purchasing half its share capital.

With Qantas’ issued capital of $4.7 billion a controlling interest would cost the Government about $2.4 billion. This could be readily borrowed at an interest cost of less than $170 million a year. A bond rate could be paid to the remaining shareholders costing about $150 million. The total cost of around $320 million could be built into Qantas’ cost structure. A new board and CEO could then be appointed.

As a government airline it would not have to chase increasing profits so it could readily accommodate the reasonable claims of its employees on job security and modest wage increases. The absolute and dangerous demoralisation of its workforce would be removed and its earlier proud record as a publicly owned airline restored.

Joyce’s uncompromising approach is undermined in the last Qantas budget on its website. It “demonstrated a strong revenue recovery across both international and domestic business … Qantas is expecting to grow its domestic and international capacity.” The profit for the half-year ended December 2010 was $417 million “materially stronger than the previous half-year … Net underlying unit costs dropped.” There has been no subsequent statement of any deterioration in conditions.

Has the government got the courage and vision to pursue the only option that will now serve best the interests of the nation?

Sam Kennedy writes: An interesting perspective by several individuals who support Joyce’s decision (yesterday, comments). There is only two things that interest me in the area of Joyce’s action:

  1. He could have gone to Fair Work Australia to have the industrial dispute terminated. He didn’t need to shut everything down. So he wanted the public inconvenienced. Unions learnt a long time ago upsetting the public does your cause no good. So Qantas, who relies on the Australian public to be its customers, has a CEO who doesn’t give a stuff about the Australian public.
  2. Qantas has been given several privileges other airlines do not have in Australia as it is relied on by the government to always be available for the Australian people. So now we know Qantas has a CEO and board that thinks moving jobs offshore and making lots of money is more important than the Australian people. Does this mean their privileges will be revoked and other airlines who seem to be more reliable given access to them?

Shirley Colless writes: Ah, Alan Joyce, Mr. 70%, the Sol Trujillo of the airline industry, the lone amigo of unfair pay for unfair work. As someone on my rare trips overseas and in Australia dedicated to Qantas, on the basis that its aircraft were likely to stay in the air, I will be withdrawing my custom.

Climate Change and population:

Rod Metcalfe writes: I find it is interesting that we are having a debate about whether climate change is man-made or not at the same time we are noting the world’s population topping seven billion. When the population was less than two billion (about a century ago) we certainly weren’t consuming all those carbon fuels as today.

As an ABC show pointed out on Sunday, there are now more than 14 million cars in Australia. Surely something must be happening to the world as a result of all the oil and coal being consumed today by seven billion persons?

And Cardinal George Pell should remember the Church’s view on Copernicus all those years ago.