On Volkswagen controversy

Adrian Jackson writes: Re. “Business bites: Volkswagen finger waggin’” (yesterday). The VW emissions scandal in the USA is disappointing for such a great car company. VW was started in Germany in 1937 when Hitler directed Ferdinand Porsche to design a people car for the average family (2 parents and 3 children). One for each parent and one for the country I assume. I think Den Fuhrer and Heir Porsche would not be pleased today if alive. I wonder if the undermining of VW in the USA is deliberate to knock out a competitor to help GM, Ford and Chrysler? At least VW has not killed over 100 Americans like a GM model has over the last 10 years as result of a computer fault. When our car industry ceases I wonder what the Yank imports will be like? Jeep has been under a cloud with a SUV that are full of defects too.

On Inland rail

Jock Webb writes: Re. “Inland fail: the $10 billion rail line to nowhere” (yesterday). One thing we do not need in this country is even bigger and more trucks on the Newell highway, it is quite scary enough. For large quantities of freight this is a ludicrous mode of transport. In central NSW we have no worthwhile links to the seaboard. The roads across the mountains are a joke (except they are a menace) and the rail is a patchwork of damaged track at least a decade behind what is needed. Rail has long suffered from having to pay for its “road” whereas road transport, despite destroying the roads utterly, makes a very small contribution to the costs (they will talk of fuel taxes and registration, but it doesn’t come close).

In NSW our rail network, except the line to Broken Hill and the west and a couple of coal lines, is a shambles. We have single stacked containers, garbage track alignments and no sensible freight nodes other than Parkes.

What we seek is a method of connecting east-west and north-south that does not involve the unholy mess of Sydney. This would remove much unnecessary freight traffic from Sydney and connect Queensland’s main areas of production to both south and west. The right of way mostly still exists. It would bring many jobs and efficiencies to our economy. It is a long way from the Darwin link and about 100 years overdue (though there was a point when only about 100 km would have been needed), but of course we let that go.

Politics and religion part 2

Geoff Edwards writes: Re. “On politics and religion” (yesterday). Why in earth does Michael Byrne accuse the “left” of not being committed to “human flourishing”? Presumably his “left” includes environmentalists. Part of the inspiration for environmentalism derives from respect for logical, evidence-based, science. This science confirms that the planet’s biophysical systems are in peril; nothing haphazard about that. Another source of inspiration is concern for social justice, holding that the well-being of humanity depends upon its life support systems and the capacity of these to support human flourishing is currently being exceeded. Another source of inspiration is experience of the outdoors, or admiration for the work of the Creator. If Byrne rejects these bodies of knowledge, what belief system remains? Only the “barren flattened ground” of economic materialism?. It is no accident that “conservation” and “conservative” share a common etymological root. It is a pity that cultural partisans have driven unnecessary wedges between those who share much common ground.

Ganging up on ScoMo

Les Heimann writes: Re. “Culture warriors, choose now: resistance or collaboration?” (yesterday). The thought expressed that the ultras are fighting amongst themselves as exemplified by attacks on Scott Morrison as a turncoat and Bishop paying back Abbott is in my view erroneous. The ultras admire strength, commitment, individuality, pugnaciousness and “the man of steel” approach. Thus the ultras adore men such as Morrison, Abbott and the like. These are men on a mission and that mission is always based on their own very big success fetish. One might say “highly motivated men”.

Thus when someone such as Morrison manoeuvres himself to be a winner that’s normal behaviour and I don’t think this is bad behaviour or squabble material. In all likelihood the ultras secretly applaud his good judgement. Bishop is a different story; firstly because she is seen as just a woman spitting and clawing because she got caught out and secondly because, well, because she lost. Here one has to believe Costello when says the Liberals only reward winners. The real enigma for the ultra-right wing mad hatters in the Liberal party is that fiercely competitive, individualistic bash and crash men are a good example of the expression “there is no I in team”. That’s why the ultras must inevitably fail. However, beware. As I understand it, this type of man abounds in the human arsenal the NSW based ultras will unleash at every Liberal pre-selection for quite a while to come.

John Kotsopoulos writes: Going by his Q&A performance Shorten in terms of substance and style is more than capable of overturning  the Turnbull bandwagon.  The latter’s overblown speaking style and flamboyant hand gestures are satirical gold and constantly distract from the message he tries to convey. Turnbull’s  claim to have discovered emotional intelligence since he was dumped as Liberal leader suggests he has shrugged off his finance era nickname of Turdball. Time will tell but I have my doubts especially now that his internal enemies have come out into the open.

On Peta Credlin

Joe Boswell writes: Re. “Credlin the victim of sexism — but the perpetrator of it too” (yesterday). Peta Credlin has a case when she complains about the attacks she faced as Abbott’s chief of staff, but it’s nowhere near as clear as she claims that terms like “bossy” and “micromanager” are reserved for women while men are described as “authoritative” or “powerful”. An internet search on the more pejorative terms plus “Kevin Rudd” comes up with plenty of examples from many sources. Perhaps such criticisms of Credlin are not so much based on her sex as on the remarkable similarity of her style and Rudd’s. Similar consequences too.

Greg Poropat writes: Peta Credlin complains of being the victim of sexism. She goes further and says, “You will want to have women like me in politics.” Well I’m sorry, Peta: I, for one, won’t. I want to have capable, competent women in politics. Regardless of sex, if I were Prime Minister, amongst other things I would want my chief-of-staff to ensure that my rear and flanks were protected and that, as a first term Prime Minister, I would not endure the indignity of being dumped. Your comments betray the same blindness to reality that your ex-boss has. Sorry again, Peta, in that job you were a manifest failure and on this matter, you have no cred.

Paul Kelly, journalist

Brett Gaskin writes: Re. “Mayne: pay MPs more and 9 other ways to improve Australian politics” (yesterday). “Paul Kelly is the respected elder statesmen of political commentary in Australia”.  WTF Stephen?  I nearly stopped reading but then suspected it was pure satire.  That didn’t become clear in the article so one can only take your statement as something you actually believe. Respected, no. Elder, yes. Statesman, no.

Peter Fray

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