NBN:

Andrew Sholl, GM, communications at NBN Co, writes: Re. “Tips and rumours” (yesterday, item 6). Crikey published:

“Good to see that NBN Co hasn’t had to stint on its Christmas festivities. Crikey understands the bar tab alone at last week’s North Sydney function exceeded $15,000. In addition there were rooms booked and spit roasts to be enjoyed. Our spy estimates a total cost in excess of $20,000 — but when you’ve got over $43 billion in the kitty it’s a drop in the ocean …”

Wish I could have gone to the NBN Co Christmas party mentioned in yesterday’s Crikey. The one I attended with 600 other staff was far less glamorous.

There was no spit roast. There were no rooms booked … other than the pub itself. The bar tab was not $15,000. In fact, the evening cost less per head than the Christmas buffet at the Parramatta Leagues Club.

Excess my foot.

Europe:

Glen Frost writes: Re. “Rundle: for Cameron, Brussells sprouts a sort of zen veto” (yesterday, item 3). As someone who grew up in the UK, I’d like to offer a suggestion to Crikey; a balanced commentary on Europe would be most appreciated.

There are some big lessons from history (both recent and not-so-recent):

  1. You can’t force people into a union (lesson from USSR); they have to want to go; the UK is split on this issue.
  2. Politicians give away law-making power (Brussels trumps nation states); Westminster is a “rubber stamp” to Brussels — this upsets people.
  3. Europe created an additional layer of bureaucrats and politicians who spend but don’t have authority to raise taxes — this doesn’t seem to work.
  4. Countries flout budgetary and fiscal targets and get away with it; you can’t have a European union without fiscal union, and this isn’t happening

While my grandfather spent time fighting Germans, younger generations have developed various shades of pro-European tendencies; we go there on holiday, trade, speak each other languages, marry etc, etc; however it is the pace and arrangement of European integration that troubles many. Being pro-Europe doesn’t mean we should all blindly follow any old integration plan.

The closest example for Australians is the debate and vote on the Australian Republic; Australians said no I recall …

Niall Clugston writes: Re. “Memo David Cameron: eurosceptics aren’t really on your side” (yesterday, item 9). Charles Richardson’s argument is typical of those who support the EU.

Instead of defending the EU, he attacks its critics as “defenders of old-fashioned nationalism”.

Instead of defending the economic set-up, he argues that “the core of the EU project has always been political — it’s about overcoming the national rivalries that have time and again plunged Europe into bloodshed”. But you can pursue peace and internationalism without the euro, and you don’t need to confine yourself to the boundaries of Europe.

Perhaps the problem is that there are no arguments in favour of yoking divergent economies with a common currency.

Bernard on Gillard:

Hugh McCaig writes: Re. “A dumb reshuffle puts spotlight back on Gillard’s woes” (yesterday, item 1). Is it possible that Bernard Keane’s constant negativity towards the PM and the Australian government has intensified since the PM’s rejoinder to a question in a room full of the Canberra media pack.

Maybe Bernard was one who felt hurt. Her response was quite telling and included the words: “… don’t write crap. It can’t be that hard”.

Try for a little objectivity, Bernard!

Peter Fray

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