Niall Clugston writes: Re. “Aluminium, industry policy and losing our way on reform” (yesterday, item 1). If Bernard Keane really wants to “explain to people in the front line of economic change … exactly what is going on”, he could avoid nonsense such as his reference to the “aluminium smelting industry, which only employs about 5000 people but generates — at least in normal years — $5 billion in exports”.

To put it crudely, a $5 billion industry is going to have costs of up to $5 billion (or more if it’s loss-making), those costs will relate to inputs, and those inputs will be provided by people.  And that will be a lot more people than 5000. Of course, some of these related industries, such as bauxite mining, can be redirected to overseas markets, but this knock-on effect has to be considered.

He would do a better sales job if he talked about the industries being created — but they don’t seem to exist. Manufacturing and primary industry are out. So we will have an economy that imports manufactured goods, but exports nothing.

Alexander Downer:

Hugh McCaig writes: Re. “Richard Farmer’s chunky bits” (yesterday, item 11). I found Richard Farmer’s using Alexander Downer as an intro to another denigration of PM Julia Gillard a shallow analysis of the real situation in our present political scene.

Poor Alexander was the leader of the opposition and yet failed to win an election. Gillard is leading an effective government, has negotiated several important pieces of legislation through a difficult parliamentary period, and Australia, our country, is regarded as having coped well with the prevailing difficult worldwide economics.

Richard seems all too willing to join the general media bias, aggressively led by News Ltd, against the government and Gillard. I find it a shame that an experienced commentator should show a lack of independent and balanced analysis so regularly in his comments. How about considering balance and objectivity for once, Richard.


Debra Hood writes: Re. “‘Churnalism sweatshop’: ABC News journos fear review outcomes” (Wednesday, item 1). Much to my chagrin, the ABC is already engaged in “churnalism”. One only has to watch ABC News 24 to see the results of “stuff” fed to the “chooks” as Joh Bjelke-Petersen referred to the media.

I watched ABC News 24 scurry around the voting associated with the caucus vote reaffirming our Prime Minister, where numbers were released that were just wrong. That is not journalism. That is behaving as paparazzi. That is not the level of journalism Australian taxpayers should be funding.

As a taxpayer I want an analysis of the facts with the bias of the journalist exposed so that I can make may own decision. Really, it is not that hard!