Is there more to the O’Farrell story?

Greg Poropat writes: Barry O’Farrell did not tell ICAC the truth about the Grange Nick Di Girolamo gave him. Your editorial says: “O’Farrell is at best forgetful, at worst inept.” That’s quite a hasty judgment.

O’Farrell is reported as initially describing his contact with Di Girolamo as infrequent. Subsequently, that was upgraded to communications every few weeks. First a misrepresentation about the frequency of communications and then forgetfulness about a special bottle of wine. Is anything else not quite as O’Farrell has portrayed it?

If the relationship was merely casual, why would a comparative stranger send the premier a $3000 bottle of wine and, more importantly, why would O’Farrell accept it? Surely O’Farrell must have considered that such a gift from a comparative stranger was at best unusual and, more sinisterly, provided for, or in anticipation of, some form of benefit. No matter which, it seems to have been a monumental error of judgment to accept the wine, unless the relationship was something other than that which has been reported.

O’Farrell’s note to Di Girolamo also needs deconstruction. It says: “Thanks for all your support.” The word “all” is underlined in the note. That seems to indicate something more going on here than has been revealed. Just what “support” was O’Farrell referring to?

The drama of O’Farrell’s resignation has obscured a more thorough analysis of what might have transpired between O’Farrell and Di Girolamo. This story should not end with O’Farrell’s resignation.

Rob Hughes writes: Re. “O’Farrell — and NSW voters — pay the price for an inexplicable lapse” (yesterday). Please look beyond the “most famous bottle of wine” — this is surely just the tip of the iceberg. Yes it is surprising O’Farrell would quit over this — I suspect he did it in order to duck out early and avoid further scrutiny. I don’t think it’s the wine that is important, nor the words, but what lies behind that. Please don’t overlook the dealings over AWH and other decisions made and turn it into an amusing story about forgetting about a posh bottle. I am looking forward to your further assessment of the situation!

Helen Mackenzie writes: Barry O’Farrell, in an act of vindictiveness aimed at Kristina Keneally, in 2011 introduced a minimum five years that a premier must have served before being granted any state-funded entitlements, including office space, cars and drivers and airline tickets.  What a far-sighted decision that was.

A vein of truth

Andrew Davison writes: Re. “Minerals Council raked over the coals for troubled PR campaign” (yesterday). Sorry, but you can’t make new steel (as opposed to melting and recycling scrap steel) without “virgin” iron (uncontaminated with copper and other elements), and most of this comes from blast furnaces that rely on coke, sometimes augmented with coal. Gas-based DRI is only a small contributor to global iron production — about 6% according to and Midrex. On this point, I think the “Australians for Coal” claim is correct.

Niall Clugston writes: Rather than “fact-checking” the Mineral Council, what Crikey has done is mount a series of weak counter-arguments. Like it or not, it is a fact that coal is an important commodity in the world economy. As the Mineral Council states, coal accounts for 41% of global electricity generation. Clearly, there are other sources, and Crikey establishes nothing by listing countries that don’t use coal. It’s more enlightening to look at the main alternative sources: other fossil fuels 25.5%, hydro-electric dams 16%, and nuclear power 13%. All these raise environmental concerns, and none is poised to replace coal.

With regard to steel production, it’s not true that electric arc furnaces negate the need for coal.  They process scrap steel, and coal was used to make the scrap steel.

Crikey‘s presentation also ignores the importance of coal as a major export for Australia.  I don’t see how anything is achieved by pretending that giving up coal would be easy.