Labor’s economic management:

Nigel Martin writes: Re. “Why Labor gets no credit for economic management” (yesterday, item 1). Perhaps a better line of questioning for Essential would be to actual find the point of reasoning for the answers to the question, “How is the Economy doing?”

What is the economy anyway? It surely means different things to different people, and is it more affected by my own personal experience or the wider scale of experience?

My own personal view is that negative sentiment toward the “economy” is largely due to:

  • Falling house prices, or perhaps more accurately, not increasing and giving me an easy line of credit and discussion point at parties
  • Superannuation — why aren’t I getting 13% return like I did back in the good old days
  • Debt — Pavlov the dog says debt is bad, even if debt is free — protestants don’t be a lender or a borrower etc.

The issues relating to Julia Gillard and Wayne Swan are nothing short of the fact that they both have (or least display) ZERO charisma.

Think it was hinted on Q&A on Monday night that even though Les Patterson was an amplified vile pollie character who lied and cheated etc, people still liked him.

Perhaps if Julia could just smile and say, “well maybe I did lie about the carbon thing, but according to Tone, I am OK as long as I don’t write it down…”

Les Heimann writes: Re. Yesterday’s Editorial. Crikey again suggests “working families” have got it all wrong and we’ve never had it so good. However, not liking leaders is not new.

Robert Menzies was largely unloved, so was Doc Evatt and Arthur Calwell, but Menzies kept on getting re-elected. More recently Paul Keating and John Howard were not much in the charisma department but still got elected.

It just doesn’t matter — on the day of the polls most voters get honest with themselves: Labor in Victoria, the Liberal parties in NSW and Queensland are good examples.

The current living climate in Australia is hard. So what that some incomes have increased? That’s only for some people. For the rest it is harder. Lower available working hours, costlier everything other than discretionary spending, employment uncertainty — the list goes on. It is a worrying paradigm.

People know about being spun. They know that the cost of food, transport, fuel, medical all have skyrocketed and they know that the so called CPI measurement is not to be trusted. People are not happy.

When all is said and done, for most in this era of spin and speed, perception is reality. How our leaders (and we have none) capitalise on this fact will determine their — and our — success.

Brigitte Dwyer writes: Your report into the cost of living lacked rigour.

The reason that inflation is low is that increases in domestic prices are balanced by the low cost of imported goods — yes we might get cheap holidays and whitegoods, but the price of bread has doubled. All it will take is a slide in the dollar for inflation to skyrocket; people are aware of the transient nature of our good fortune.

Australia is in unfamiliar economic waters — it doesn’t feel right to pay $4 for a coffee and $40 for a microwave — that’s why people are worried.

The mining boom has given us increases in wages, access to cheap imports, and the odd cash-splash from the government — are you sure that’s good economic management? I’m not.

I think it’s time to move on from the convenient but lazy line that the government is doing a great job, but just can’t get the story out. Dig a little deeper.

Italy:

Roy Ramage writes: Re. “Scope for Pope to rope a dope after Vatican security leak” (yesterday, item 9). Recall the “God’s Banker” fiasco which saw the Italian banker Roberto Calvi hanging from Blackfriars Bridge in London after some dodgy financial deals involving Vatican money in the early eighties.

The Italian clergy, Mafia and Italian government have been uneasy partners for hundreds of years. Few Popes have openly condemned the mafia. All Popes have seemed capable of living comfortably within this troika and its non transparent operations.

This cosiness and its ensuing disasters have been amply demonstrated time and again with the kidnapping of a prime minister (Aldo Moro) and the assassination of the Italy’s top judge (Giovanni Falcone).

The Vatican’s dodgy finance deals will continue until Pope and clergy do a Saint Francis and run naked into the fields — leaving behind their dodgy finance dealings to concentrate on their prayers.

Climate change:

Brad Pace writes: Re. “Climate Changed: university fee hikes under a carbon tax?” (yesterday, item 11). With respect, this is horribly basic and inaccurate analysis.

To describe Scope 1 emissions as “the release of greenhouse gases as a direct result of activity/activities such as the process of manufacturing, transportation of materials and products, and fugitive emissions” is a pretty obvious cut and paste by someone without any real idea about what constitutes Scope 1 emissions.

In the case of Scope 1 emissions for a university, these are more likely simply described as fuel or natural gas use, neither of which are included in carbon tax reporting obligations for users. Plus perhaps more importantly, the 25kt reporting threshold is for individual (singular) facilities — it is likely the Latrobe University figure shown is across more facilities than this.

Your analysis undoubtedly needs more rigour — using the NGER records to make broad assumptions on carbon tax implications is simply not correct.

Peter Fray

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