Labor stoush less (or more?) than it seemed

Maxine McKew writes: Re. “Tips and rumours” (yesterday, Monday). The Crikey grapevine can make for entertaining reading, but the “facts” of the supposed “bitter argument” between Geoff Gallop and myself at the recent Perth Writer’s Festival suggests something less dramatic. Geoff Gallop is a passionate debater and a man of grace. Within 10 minutes of the conclusion of our session he apologised to me for misinterpreting my onstage remarks and did so in front of fellow panellist James Button. As for Crikey‘s slur about being a “traitor to the cause”, it seems this now applies to those who merely question the political status quo. How curious!

Tim Villa writes: It’s a shame there’s no video footage, because Maxine McKew’s aggressive finger-pointing at a seated and bemused Geoff Gallop after the session had finished (and the mikes were off) was a sight to behold!  During the discussions she wasn’t too happy with what she saw as verballing by Gallup, so I guess she had a few things to say about it afterwards.

The irony was that he was making a point about the perils of disunity, and it wound up sparking quite a stoush. The audience were rapturous in their applause at the start for both Gallup, the still-popular former premier, and McKew, the defeater of the reviled former PM. At the finish I had the sense that Gallup had a slight edge in the popularity stakes when it came to the applause, possibly for his optimistic outlook towards September compared to McKew’s decidedly pessimistic one.

Star-spangled freedom of speech

James Fahy writes: Re: “Latham: I only said what Robb had said himself” (Monday). Long-time listener, first-time caller. Just a quick note to respond to Mark Latham’s article, specifically “this is what it means to have freedom of speech”. My reply: argh, do your reading, anyone, ever, please! Freedom of speech  is not protected by the Australian Constitution like it is in the US. Maybe this calls for a Crikey Clarifier. It’s understandable coming from kids who learn everything they know from TV, but Latham should — and does, I’m sure — know better.

Carbon hero or zero?

Paul Pollard writes: Re. “The long list: #11-25 of Australia’s powerful carbon cutters” (Monday). By listing Meg McDonald as some sort of carbon-cutting hero, Cathy Alexander shows how little she knows of the history of climate change policy in Australia. McDonald was a significant person in this area, but her effects were just the opposite of carbon-cutting. Her inclusion in the list is therefore laughable to those who fought for far-sighted climate policies in Australia in the late 1990s.

To see the key role she played in cementing Australia into a high-emissions pathway for the next few decades via the Kyoto Protocol outcome, people should read the references, indeed pages devoted, to her in Liberal staffer Guy Pearse’s book High and Dry or in Clive Hamilton’s Scorcher. She is included in Hamilton’s “dirty dozen” who drove Australia in the wrong direction, and in Pearse’s similar “PM’s XI”. Later she joined a top polluting industry as a lobbyist. Her true significance is indicated by the fact that she is a hero to our own bunch of diehard denialists, the Lavoisier Society. The suggestion that she is now fiddling around with energy efficiency models is just hysterical, because in the 1990s plenty was known on this, and it offered one efficient way Australia could have started on lowering emissions. But any promotion of this view at the time in government was regarded as traitorous by McDonald’s mob.

Coke strikes back

Paul Johanson writes: Re. “First Dog on the Moon” (yesterday). I know a guy was actually sued by Coca-Cola Amtil for putting “Out of Order” signs on the vending machines at his university. They claimed he’d lost them thousands of dollars. They even tried to bust him later when someone else went around doing the same thing, as if he’d inspired them and it was therefore his fault. But good luck to you, may they not sell so much sugar water for a day or two.