Chief Executive Officer of Hepatitis NSW Stuart Loveday writes: Re. “It’s back to the future with the jubilant Greens” (Monday). Hepatitis NSW expresses its disappointment at Crikey for publishing the following comment “the WestConnex roadway and tunnel, which is about as popular in the inner city as Hep C” in Margot Saville’s article. We think this comment is both unnecessary and unhelpful, appearing to belittle the experiences of the more than 90,000 people in NSW living with chronic hepatitis C, an illness which tragically took an estimated 639 lives nation-wide in 2013 alone. It also contributes to the stigma and discrimination endured all-too-often by people living with hepatitis C. Hepatitis NSW suggests that Crikey would not publish similar comments treating mental health issues or HIV as a ‘punchline’. Please don’t make hepatitis C one, either.

Axing the grammar police

Denise Marcos writes: Re. “Grammar an early casualty as ABC cuts costs” (yesterday). It has been slow torture witnessing the deterioration of the ABC’s grammar and, in particular, pronunciation. During the halcyon years the Standing Committee on Spoken English (SCOSE) rulings were strictly adhered to by announcing staff; along with the BBC, their reference bible was the English Pronouncing Dictionary written by Daniel Jones and A.C. Gimson. Eventually, as well modulated announcers were phased out and presenters and journalists given more radio and television airtime, SCOSE lost its punch in tandem with the cost-cutting. The demise of pronunciation had begun by the 1990s and continued unabated. While long term stalwarts (such as newsreader Richard Morecroft) maintained the high standard, the Australian public was mostly unaware our benchmark was being white-anted. With the impending “restructuring” of SCOSE, pronunciation is doomed to either Americanisation or common misuse. Among other pet peeves I regret Wimbledon will never be rescued from being Wimbleton.

Reform and shipping

John Gleeson writes: Re. “It’s time to close this company tax loophole” (Monday).What do Bernard Keane and Glenn Dyer mean when they suggest that the MUA should be taken on and coastal shipping de-regulated? Since the Howard government decided to reform coastal shipping by destroying it, we have seen the number of Australian vessels on the coast reduced from 450 to around 100, with the work previously performed by the Australian flag now done by third world vessels — remember the Kirki? — substandard ships and substandard conditions.  Is that what you consider an improvement?  For every seafarer made redundant, up the three shoreside personnel are also put out of work.  As the trade is performed by overseas vessels, Australian money goes offshore in payment — a net loss to the economy. Thanks to Howard, and also Labor failing to address this disaster, there are virtually no deep sea vessels under the Australian flag. Just going after the MUA will not solve the coastal shipping issue.  There must be investment in the industry, such as happened under the Hawke government, and the introduction of a cabotage agreement,  with a view to re-invigorating an important industry that generates wealth and trains skilled personnel in a worthwhile career.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey