News Ltd subbing clarification

Stephen Browning, head of corporate affairs, News Limited, writes: Re. “Tips and rumours” (yesterday). A quick clarification on some inaccuracies in your story on our $60m Eidos Methode platform, which allows our journalists to create content for publishing across multiple platforms. It is not just for “subbing and layout” — it is an end-to-end platform, from newslist management via topic planning through to publishing. All reporters will get a day and a half of training, and our producers (those managing layout, subbing etc) will get four days training. Training, which began last week and which our journalists are being rostered to attend, will progress across the company as each publication goes live.

Thatcher’s economic legacy

David Hand writes: Re. “Rundle: a Baroness dies, but the fiction of Thatcherism lives on” (Tuesday). I found Guy Rundle’s writing about the Thatcher era thought provoking and insightful. As someone who grew up in England in the ’60s but emigrated to New Zealand in 1972, I only watched the Thatcher phenomenon from afar. What strikes me, and what Rundle only touched on, are the remarkable parallels between the Britain of Thatcher, the New Zealand of Lange and Douglas and the Australia of Hawke and Keating. Looking at the transformation of the three economies in the ’80s as a group, much of Rundle’s commentary touches on the superficial transient events and actions such as the split on the Left that gave Thatcher power, the poll tax, the social dislocations of the time and the wind-down of coal.  The north/south divide was not created by Thatcher, though Lefties might wish it so. It had been going on for a couple of decades by the time she took on the unions.

What is really interesting is the parallels of Britain, Australia and New Zealand in the ’80s. Those parallels point to measures that probably could not be avoided, would have been done by the Left or the Right and represent the profound shift in Western society in that period. The rollback of the welfare state, the release of market forces, selling off nationalised industries, deregulating financial markets, taxation reform, floating of currencies and the demise of union / capital duopolies to govern economic policy were done by Thatcher as well as Hawke and Keating, Lange and Douglas. It is likely that those common changes represent the truly profound and long-lasting reforms of the period.

One significant departure between the UK and the antipodes was the reduction of tariffs. That reform was held back by Britain’s membership of the EEC and in my view has a major inhibitor to economic growth in Britain. Rather than looking to Europe as countries that did the ’80s better, it is likely that the EC customs union has postponed the inevitable structural reform and reduction of tariffs is one of the yet to be done changes that will bring Britain into the place currently enjoyed by the more prosperous economies of Australia and New Zealand.

It is easy to look at Thatcher’s rigid ideology and mistakes but miss her profound influence on a society that had reached the end of an economic cul-de-sac and had to change.

Howard emphatic on Iraq

John Richardson writes: Re. “When John Howard was asked why he went to war on false premise” (yesterday). According to Margot Saville, when John Howard spoke at the Lowy Institute on Tuesday night, he emphatically denied any suggestion that Australia’s decision to go to war in Iraq was based on a lie. In arguing that any such claim should be rejected, the little Aussie battler and latter-day “man of steel” was quoted as saying: “Not only does it impugn the integrity of the decision-making process at the highest level, but also the professionalism and integrity of intelligence agencies here and elsewhere.”

Truth born from a lie.