John Richardson writes: Re. “What did abolition of petrol excise indexation cost us?” (Friday, item 12). Alan Davies says that the CSIRO estimates that the 12 cents a litre in excise on fuel foregone by the federal government, because of John Howard’s decision to abolish automatic indexation in 2001, is equivalent to a carbon tax of $50 a tonne.

Alan laments the loss of an estimated $5 billion in federal revenue as a result of Howard’s unfortunate intervention, suggesting that it wouldn’t have been unreasonable to have expected Australian motorists to pay the extra excise that would have arisen, had Howard not interfered.

While I appreciate Alan’s point of view, it shouldn’t be necessary to point out how easy it always is for any of us to be generous with other people’s money. Alan’s glib assertions that “a higher price would give drivers greater incentive to travel fewer kilometres and/or shift to a more fuel-efficient vehicle” and “it would also make alternative modes of travel like public transport relatively more attractive” might have validity in the urban setting where he lives, but I can assure him that in rural areas like the one I’m in, there is no public transport alternative and you can’t find a politician who will even talk about the subject, let alone commit to doing something about it.

And given that round trips to work each day in our community routinely exceed 100 kilometres, let me assure Alan that us country folk long ago moved to more fuel-efficient vehicles, so the prospect of having to pay another 12 cents a litre offers us no payback whatsoever.

Moreover, Alan’s thesis is based on the quaint but altogether unsound argument that the present pump price of fuel is $1.40 a litre. Well, again it might come as a shock for Alan to hear that, in our community, where our good friends Caltex enjoy a monopoly on supply, the cost of fuel per litre has been $1.519 a litre over the course of living memory (which probably helps explain how Chevron’s bastard child managed to chalk-up a $400 million trading profit on its fuel sales last year).

So Alan, instead of congratulating Annabel Crabb for her half-baked effort in allegedly contributing to “policy-related public discussion” (which I see as code for “driving us broke”), why don’t you and Annabel try coming-up with some ideas on how to get our politicians to invest more in rural infrastructure? How about some ideas as to how our politicians might put an end to the criminal rorts perpetrated on all Australians by the oil, energy, banking and grocery oligarchs? How about replacing the estimated $5 billion in “foregone” excise with a decent resources rent tax on Gina, Clive and “Twiggy”, before they give all their money away to their alleged philandering families or the host of other “worthy causes” that they allegedly support? Or how about a poker machine tax or dare I suggest an increase in the excise on alcohol?

The Future Fund:

Peter Wotton writes:  Re. Friday’s Editorial. If the other board members of the Future Fund feel that Peter Costello would make a good chairman, then surely  they have influence to install him in one of the many other boards where they have the influence to do so. No? Tells you something doesn’t it!

Public dummy spits are rarely edifying and this one appears to indicate that Costello simply does not have the goods!

Col Shipard writes: Perhaps the closest comparison to this David Gonski situation, was Grant Thomas when, as St Kilda Football Club GM, he helped appoint himself as coach to replace Malcolm Blight.

One can only hope that the Future Fund performance doesn’t mirror the Saints’ effort as Thomas oversaw the (mis)management of one of the best AFL lists ever assembled since the draft was introduced in 1986, without premiership success.