Newspaper home delivery:

Stephen Browning, acting-director of communications at News Limited, writes: Re. “News Limited ‘in crisis’ on newspaper home delivery” (yesterday, item 16). Contrary to reports, there is not a crisis at News Limited on the future of home delivery of newspapers.

We have for some time been working on a plan to improve our distribution system, which delivers our newspapers to retail and homes. We have consulted newsagents and their associations throughout this process and welcomed feedback through meetings, focus groups and via a dedicated email address we set up. Using information newsagents have been helping us collect, we are doing the hard task of understanding the pros and cons of the current system and how best to improve it.

We want to get this right and so are working methodically and diligently. Newsagents may feel frustrated that this is a long process, but it is difficult one. It is taking longer than anticipated but the project has not been put on hold. We will be discussing our next steps with newsagents within the next month.


Marcus L’Estrange writes: Re. “Why Gonski is unlikely to ever be implemented” (yesterday, item 1). Many good points in Bernard Keane’s analysis but the current debate on the Gonski Report has still missed some key points regarding many non select public schools.

The drift to private schools (rich, middle, poor ) is due to several factors. Yes the three points below are very important in parental choice:

  • Parents want their child to go to ruling class schools, with some making great sacrifices to do so.
  • Simple snobbery.
  • For genuine religious reasons.

However sad to say, former Victorian Premier John Brumby summed up why many bypass many state schools when he said: ”Typically, the kids who are being failed by failing schools are Labor kids in Labor areas”.

Above all many of my state school teacher colleagues and parents prefer non-government schools because what they see is not better teachers or a different curriculum, but a peer group that values education.

Also, there is an absence of disaffected or disruptive students, who are allowed by state ministers, school management and AEU policies to spoil the environment of students who want to learn. The state governments and the AEU support mixed ability/motivation /behaviour classes in state schools. This is a disaster for those who want to learn.

Before we pour more money into disadvantaged schools and we clearly should it would be better for governments to fight for the removal of the educational left’s control and philosophy over state schools (automatic or social promotion, no meaningful sanctions against bad behaviour, handing out passes for school-assessed work like confetti, and no intelligent streaming. Only then will good students will pour back into the once-great state system and any extra “Gonski” money will then be worth it.

Mick Peel writes: Re. “Richard Farmer’s chunky bits” (yesterday, item 12). In relation to a snippet in Richard Farmer’s column yesterday, specifically “Preparing to spend $5 billion a year extra on education”, there is a major oversimplification and misconception arising from Ezra Klein’s Washington Post article and expressed by Richard. His statement, as relating to MMT:

“Owls, you see, just love budget deficits; they are hooting the message that governments borrowing money is good. And not, like those middle of the road Keynesian deficit doves who reckon it’s all right when an economy is in recession, owls advocate deficit spending almost all of the time.”

It is patently misleading, tending towards being outright false.

Chicago-based Tschäff Reisberg is part of an international working group on MMT (along with Kelton, Mosler and others mentioned in the WP article), and has posted a reply to Ezra Klein. On the matter that, “… owls advocate deficit spending almost all of the time.” Reisberg states:

“Krugman convinced many in his large audience believe MMT states budget deficits don’t matter. This is a complete straw man, MMT states solvency isn’t an issue, but inflation is as you thankfully explained. The MMTers state one important function of taxes is to reduce demand in an overheating economy by decreasing people’s post-tax income. Spending cuts are another option to reduce demand-pull inflation. MMTers are keen on Abba Lerner’s (1943) Functional Finance, the central premise of which states spending and taxation policies should be judged on their ability to achieve societal goals, not hit some nonsensical debt/deficit figure.”

Reisberg’s full reply is available here.

Don Wormald writes: I find criticism of the Gonski report based upon the premise it would be a harbinger of an attack on private schools quite hilarious.

David Gonski was educated at Sydney Grammar School (class of 1971, along with myself) — one of the oldest and most prestigious private schools in the country — and went back to the school (as chairman of trustees). He is also chancellor of the University of NSW.

Hardly the background for someone representing the interests of DOGS (Defence of Government Schools). Perhaps his review is about fairness and equity? That would be a first!

Mining donations:

Crikey writes: Re. “The rise and rise of mining company donations” (yesterday, item 2). Bernard Keane’s story yesterday on mining donations stated Queensland Nickel — which contributed $500,000 to the LNP — was a company independent of Clive Palmer. The company is in fact owned by Palmer.


Stilgherrian writes: There’s been a bunch of discussion in Crikey over recent days about compulsory voting etc (yesterday, comments). Look, if there’s 1.6 million people who don’t want their votes, I’m happy to have them.