Anti-wind farm rally full of hot air

Rod Holesgrove writes: Re: “Piss and wind: Jones joins fight against pee-shifting turbines” (yesterday). Pity Crikey was not at the alternative pro-wind farm/renewable energy rally held in Garema Place, Canberra at noon yesterday instead of wasting its time promoting the anti-wind farm view from the small rally outside  Parliament House. At the pro-renewables rally Crikey would have found a much bigger crowd of sensible, concerned people. Crikey would have also found a much better line-up of informed speakers. Christine Milne, Tony Windsor and Yvette D’Ath, parliamentary secretary for climate change, were the political speakers. There were also three well-informed rural representatives. of some stature: a resident of the Wuabra region in Victoria who told the crowd that the overwhelming majority of Waubra residents support the wind farms in their area; former mayor of Ararat who talked about the benefits of wind farms; and a rural landholder from Collector who criticised the weekend farmers who visited his community and who, without any knowledge, promoted ill-informed anti-wind farm views.

How to pay for infrastructure

Thomas Richman writes: Re. “We need to build it, but will they come? Private infrastructure problems” (yesterday). Regarding the transport infrastructure funding options  suggested by Bernard Keane, a more workable and politically astute alternative would be Australian variation of US-style, plebiscite-driven, municipal bonds, a process that not only combines the virtues of public and private involvement in, for example, bridge, road, track and tunnel financing, but does so within the context of popular support for the project at hand.

In all but five American states, most public infrastructure is financed through debt obligations issued by  government entities. Purchasers of these municipal bonds are generally repaid, with interest, from special, time-limited, surcharges on income, property rates and/or consumables such as petrol, alcohol and cigarettes. As in the US, they would also provide a holiday from federal capital gains taxes on income, although this might, understandably, meet with significant resistance unless the potential for tax dodging loopholes is eliminated.

Most importantly, the financial burden is not  imposed until a project, and its funding details, are approved by the majority of the relevant electorate in a referendum. To appear on the ballot, project proponents must submit to the government a minimum number of supporting signatures, all of which are from legitimately registered voters. If handled in good faith this would not only guarantee a large measure of procedural transparency but go a long way in overcoming public cynicism, especially where it involves those burnt by the plethora of Ponzi schemes that achieved near-cargo cult status over the last decade, generally in the guise of  their acronyms like BOO, BOOT and PPP and all  reliant on the stripping of fees off the top of investment funds — none of which had to be returned no matter how corrupt or misleading the process  turned out to be.

Jobs? What nonsense!

Dr Steve Carey writes: Re. “As journalism jobs go, how will graduates find work?” (yesterday). Dr Kayt Davies at Edith Cowan University finds the notion that universities might be doing vocational education “frankly quite insulting”.

I reckon that statement should be appended to her course description, just so students don’t mistakenly imagine that a university journalism degree might, oh you know, actually train them for a job in journalism. Silly, silly students!

Peter Fray

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