Saturday, 29 November 2008
Leading the pack in this latest search for a leadership challenge is The Australian's Dennis Shanahan. Dennis clearly finds writing about who may or may not end up in a position of power far easier than telling his readers what those in power are actually doing with it. And he is not, of course, alone in that.
Back at the beginning of September I did a little survey of what political stories actually appeared in the nation's newspapers and found that nearly 12% of them were leadership speculation of one kind or another. The only more popular subject was stories based on opinion polls at 13% and they were really nothing more than another kind of approach to leadership.
But back to the Shanahan story which is bound to be followed by others in the press gallery herd in the coming weeks as the silly summer season approaches. "Julie Bishop is under growing internal pressure to step aside as the Coalition's Treasury spokeswoman," he wrote this morning, " amid growing dissatisfaction with her performance." The nub of his argument is that Liberal MPs are becoming frustrated with Ms Bishop's errors and her inability to have any impact on Treasurer Wayne Swan. He accuses the Deputy Liberal Leader as being plagued by plagiarism charges, accused of not having any ideas for the Liberals and making mistakes in parliament.
Perth academic Peter van Onselen joined in to dismiss Ms Bishop as "a lead weight in Turnbull's saddle" and allege that an exasperated "Turnbull has privately complained to supporters in recent weeks that he is doing the job of both the leader and the deputy, as well as functioning as a de facto shadow treasurer."
No doubt the Opposition Leader would have found more annoying the suggestion by John Howard's biographer that Peter Costello is still lolling around on the backbenches as a leader in waiting. "The sands of time must pass for the federal Liberals to again rise as a political force,"van Onselen wrote. "When they do, don't be surprised if Costello is ready to lead."
With gusto this morning the herd charged into the leadership story this morning. Michelle Grattan in The Age and Mark Metherell in the Sydney Morning Herald had their pieces fuelled by some wonderful hints by Ms Bishop at a conspiracy theory involving the editor of The Australian Chris Mitchell.
Friday, 28 November 2008
It has been a feature of governments for many years now to impose what is euphemistically called an efficiency dividend on departments. Instead of governments making the hard decision to scrap or wind back particular programs, the order goes out that the public service must cut administrative expenses by an across the board two or three or whatever percent. A recent addition to this philosophy of finding savings is to insist that any salary increases for individual bureaucrats in a department must be compensated by a similar reduction in the total departmental wages bill.
It sounds very simple and perhaps for a year or two it was but Ms Briggs in this year's report draws attention to some of the undesirable consequences. "Many agencies," she writes, "are now at financial crossroads—the impact of continued across the board efficiency measures is making it extremely difficult to properly maintain their core functions."
Particularly hard hit are some of the smaller agencies where it is not easy to find a few indians to get rid of so that the chiefs can be paid public service market rate salaries. The result is that good staff just don't want to work for these small agencies no matter how important their function might be. Or, as Ms Briggs puts it:
"The combined effect of the efficiency dividend and the partial funding arrangements for remuneration increases have placed pressure on some agencies whose size, or the nature of their activities, affect their potential for cost saving productivity gains to be generated year after year. For some agencies this has impacted on the remuneration levels they are able to offer. A key issue is how to ensure the APS operates in a sustainable way so that agencies of all types and sizes can attract and retain staff with the capability to deliver on their core functions. It may be timely to consider putting a safety valve mechanism in place to ensure the ongoing ability of lower paying agencies to attract and retain a skilled workforce in what will no doubt continue to be a tight fiscal environment."
This morning the Australian press displayed all the pathetic pettiness which helps bring the whole profession in to such disrepute.
In The Australian they headlined The Australian scoops three Walkley Awards then almost grudgingly acknowledged that the now defunct 9 Network Sunday program picked up the top gong - The Gold Walkley - and mentioned winners from 7 News, Reuters, the stablemate the Sydney Daily Telegraph, and their own company's Australian boss. The only reference to a Fairfax winner was to note the Most Outstanding Contribution to Journalism going to the late Pamela Bone for her support of humanitarian causes and commitment to the advancement of female leaders in the media. In a display of churlishness there was no reference to the fact that Ms Bone used to write for the Melbourne Age.
Winners from the ABC and SBS got not even an oblique mention.
Coverage in the Melbourne Age was even less gracious. Past and present journalists of The Age were last night honoured at the annual Walkley Awards, it said and listed its own winners. The Sunday program got a gong but no one else qualified - not even the Walkleys won by sister Fairfax publications the Sydney Morning Herald, the Australian Financial Review and the Illawarra Mercury.
For the SMH it was Super 12: Fairfax journos shine - a story which, fair enough, featured its own six winners but did not list the other six from its stablemates with the exception of a reference to Ms Bone. The award to the journalist from the Fairfax owned Illawarra Mercury was not even counted in reaching the total of 12 mentioned as shining.
The ABC followed the lead of the daily papers in slanting its Walkley story towards some self congratulation. "The ABC picked up nine Walkley Awards for journalism at a ceremony in Melbourne last night," it trumpets on its website this morning. "The broadcaster made it a clean sweep in the radio category, with awards for news, current affairs and feature reports."
It might have added that the feat illustrates the paucity of fair dinkum news reporting and current affairs programming on commercial radio!
Sunday got a mention for its Gold as did Bone, Hartigan and Don Watson, a speech writer for former prime minister Paul Keating who won the Walkley for best non-fiction book for American Journeys. Reuters photographer David Gray was acknowlledged as press photograpoher of the year and writing about Aborigines clearly qualifies non-ABC journalists for a mention. The Australian newspaper's Tony Koch and Padraic Murphy were noted for their story about a group of men who escaped a jail term after pleading guilty to raping a 10-year-old girl at Aurukun in north Queensland. Other print journalists were not so lucky and nor was 7 News for wi nning Television News Reporting.
For the record, you will find a full list of the Walkley winners by organisation on my website here.
Thursday, 27 November 2008
The other state where a Senator has yet to be chosen is Georgia where Sen. Saxby Chambliss and Democratic challenger Jim Martin take part in a run-off ballot next week after neither got to 50% of the vote on 4 November. The Crikey election indicator puts the Republican as a 93.5% chance of victory.
Should the bolter get up and take the Democrats to 59 Senate seats then an attempt to have the Senate decide would demonstrate clearly what is at stake in Minnesota. The Republicans would engage in one of those filibusters where Senators just keep talking so that a vote cannot be taken. The Democrats need to get to the magic number of 60 to be able to stop this time honoured American political tradition which has been such an impediment to progress over the centuries.
The Wall Street Journal recalls this morning how in 1975, the Senate refused to accept New Hampshire's certification that Republican Louis Wyman had won by two votes. The seat was vacant for seven months, with the Senate debate spanning 100 hours and six unsuccessful attempts to break a filibuster and vote on who should be seated. The impasse ended only when a special election was agreed to, which was won by Democrat John Durkin.
The Crikey election indicator on the Minnesota race puts the Republicans as a 65% chance of ending up with the Senator.
Given Telstra's dominant position as the owner of so much of the national infrastructure that is easier thought than done. Yet you have to hand it to the Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy Stephen Conroy - in public he keeps up the pretense that all is well in his kingdom with the NBN project completely on track. "The strong response from industry proponents is vindication of the Government's commitment to undertake a fair, open and competitive process," he declared in his press statement yesterday. "The stage is now set for an extremely competitive assessment process." There was not so much as a hint in these prepared words that Telstra was again playing games which will surely delay even further the evaluation process by the Government's independent Panel of Experts and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.
Wednesday, 26 November 2008
The other initiative promised was to build a new dam at Traveston which was vigorously opposed by local residents who were aided and abetted in their nimbyism by the LNP. Premier Bligh has an election due early next year and with the recent heavy rains around Brisbane lifting water levels from their the dangerously low levels caused by drought, she yesterday took the opportunity to scuttle both projects. Two potential vote winners for the Opposition are now gone.
Well, maybe the gloom and doom brigade will be in error again for the construction figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics this morning show the benefit of the lags which occur between major projects started when companies are optimistic about the future and the onset of pessimism.
The Gary Linnell Tele would have us believe that this is "crushing news" for Kevin Rudd while the story admits that "the survey didn't cover a representative cross-section of the electorate and about 60 per cent of respondents did not vote Labor on November 24, 2007" and "it clashed with opinion surveys showing the Government and the Prime Minister in strong positions over the Opposition of Malcolm Turnbull." The story surely marks a new low point in the idiocy of the Telegraph's version of political journalism.
This morning’s newspapers did bring another of those special interest polls (like the “A wrong choice by Telstra” mentioned in Crikey yesterday) conducted as part of a lobbying campaign. The public relations boffins for the Advanced Medical Institute got a run with their version of research showing that the public is not as prudish as the advertising watchdog thinks and their posters using the words "longer lasting s-x" should therefore be allowed. They’ll probably be happy with this further plug as well!
Sunday, 23 November 2008
"We have decided to start official talks with the European Commission and the IMF about funding to stabilise the economy," Prime Minister Ivars Godmanis told reporters.
The Baltic country has seen a sharp economic slowdown this year, reports euobserver.com, with a contraction of 4.3 percent in the third quarter, breaking its previous record of being one of the fastest growing economies in the EU.The financial crisis has made it hard for Latvia to obtain funds in its attempts to counterbalance its large current account deficit. The government has been forced to take over the country's second largest bank of Parex and offer millions of euro as guarantees to its creditors.
When Latvia gets its IMF assistance it will be the second European Union country to do so with Hungary getting a $USA15.5 billion credit earlier this month. Now the guessing game is who will be next. Talks are under way between the IMF and the governments of Pakistan and Turkey and the speculation is that the other Baltic States and also Romania and Bulgaria will so0n be in the queue.
Adrian Proszenko should have met an Ian Fitchett before he had his prediction about the rugby league World Cup final published in the early editions of Sunday's paper that went to bed just as the game was about to begin. By the time the paper was delivered he was clearly wrong, wrong, wrong.
It's the kind of example that should find its way into journalism course text books.
Opening and closing a new business on the same day would not normally be a good sign but things are a bit different for Europeana. This new website went on line last Thursday making available an initial two million books, maps, recordings, photographs, archival documents, paintings and films from national libraries and cultural institutions of the EU's 27 member states. The site was instantly overwhelmed by the 10 million visitors per hour it was receiving and crashed mid-morning, requiring a quick doubling of the number of servers supporting the library. It crashed again in the early evening.
Europeana is a project of the European Commission which commission president Jose Manuel Barroso at the launch described as being much more than a library, but "a veritable dynamo to inspire 21st century Europeans to emulate the creativity of innovative forbears like the drivers of the Renaissance."Some 1,000 cultural organisations have provided material, from the Louvre in Paris to Amsterdam's Rijksmuseum and the British Library. By 2010, the project hopes to hold some 10 million items.
The great paintings of Europe, the musical scores of the continent's finest composers and documents of profound historical importance - from the Magna Carta to Vermeer's Girl with the Pearl Earring and Baudelaire's "Les Fleurs du Mal" - are now digitally available.
Website: europeana - European Digital Library
Friday, 21 November 2008
With petrol prices falling rapidly, the interest payment to the bank dropping considerably and no friends and neighbours losing their job it does not really need a politician or a Reserve Bank governor to tell people not to panic. At this stage of the economic cycle the main reason people might be getting a little apprehensive is only because these people in authority tell them there is no need to. Even the annual statement from the super fund for the year ended 30 June was not too bad for those not actually on the verge of retirement. The loss of a few percent is not that troubling after all those great years of the recent past.
The Morgan Poll's Weekly Consumer Confidence Rating (the graph here gives the annual average since 1973) is still well above its record lows. True there was a drop of 4.6 points to 91.2 in the week ended 16 November but it got down to 72.8 in June 1989 . The mob are far from being at panic stations yet despite what they have been hearing and reading about the stock market crash.
It's the next progress super report showing the losses increasing, combined with unemployment going up at a frightening rate, and it is people you know without work, while the value of the family home is going down that will have an impact/ All the honeyed words from Prime Ministers, Treasurers and Governors will not stop despondency when that day comes.
Tasmanian Minister for Primary Industries and Water David Llewellyn wanted the water to ease drought conditions in the Clyde Valley around Bothwell.
The government owned Air Services Australia is betraying thousands of Australian children with its decision to get rid of red fire engines. The corporation yesterday trumpeted its decision to replace red with what it calls "a new bright ‘yellowish-green’ fluorescent colouring". The unthinking bureaucrats, with no regard to the danger of making all those toy red engines redundant, rejected the sensible compromise many of the world's fire services are following of having splashes of the apparently highly visible trendy new colour on predominantly red engines.
Thursday, 20 November 2008
At People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals they call mulesing "Australia's secret shame" but my guess it will be less of a secret quite soon. The decision of woolgrowers to dump the board of Australian Wool Innovations because they were committed to ending the practice of mutilating sheep by 2010 and install directors who want to continue the practice for longer, will infuriate the animal rights activists. Kevin Rudd for one can expect to receive a rash of emails saying something similar to this:
I was shocked to learn that Australian farmers continue to partially skin lambs alive, despite growing international pressure from retailers and consumers to implement long-term, humane alternatives. Instead of taking real action, the Australian wool industry has turned to cheap and cruel plastic mulesing "clips," which are as cruel as hacking lambs' skin and flesh away with shears and are equally ineffective against flystrike. There is overwhelming scientific evidence that mulesing is so cruel that it adversely affects lambs for months, and the "clips" also cause great pain to the lambs. Viable, humane alternatives are already in use by many Australian farmers. There's simply no reason for the Australian government to continue to allow cruel mulesing mutilations and live export.
That's the suggested form of words on the PETA website savethesheep.com this morning.
If my colleague Glenn Dyer did not depress those still with jobs in the media enough yesterday with his piece in Crikey headlined "UK Media slashing jobs, looking to the future", then perhaps this will do the trick. Last week at the American Press Institute’s closed-door summit of 50 of the top newspaper executives from around the country, says a report I read this morning, James Shein, a turnaround specialist and professor at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, asked executives to calculate their company’s Altman Z-scores, which can help identify how close a company is to bankruptcy. A score above three is the accepted safe range. Shein said only one company was above that measure. EW Scripps Co. has a Z-score of 3.78, according to Bloomberg.
Writes John Templon of the Medill newsagency:
Lee Enterprises Inc., which publishes The Times of Northwest Indiana and the St. Louis Post Dispatch, has a Z-score of .56 and the Sun-Times Media Group Inc., which publishes the Chicago Sun-Times and a large number of community newspapers in the Chicago area, has a Z-score of minus 1.02.
McClatchy Co., which publishes The Miami Herald and 29 other daily papers, has a Z-score of .32. The company's stock "could be worthless," according to a report by Chicago-based Morningstar Inc.
"McClatchy has struggled under the multiple weights of declining revenues, high debt, outsized exposure to troubled housing markets, and the continuing shift of readers and advertisers from print to online," said equity analyst Tom Corbett in a report issued on Friday. "Given the persistence and severity of these conditions, we think equity shareholders are at risk of losing the entire value of their investment."
Those who believe that the NSW election due in 2011 is all over bar the Liberal National Coalition Government being sworn in, should perhaps reflect a little on this little graph of the roller coaster ride that Labour has had in the United Kingdom.
Just six months ago the pundits were writing the political obituary for Gordon Brown when his Labour Government fell more than 20 points behind the Conservative Opposition. Today the average of the UK pollsters has that lead down to around five points and the most recently published Ipsos/MORI puts it at three.
It might he hard to remember, but George W. Bush was once a popular president. After his first month as President of the United States on 1 March 2001, he had an approval rating as measured by the NBC/Wall Street Journal poll of 57.0%.
Barack Obama will soon have his presidential popularity out to the test and the Crikey Political Indicator, based on prediction markets from around the world, gives him a 79% chance of having a higher initial rating as judged by the Real Clear Politics average job approval figure on 1 March 2009 than the man he will replace did eight years earlier.
As an indication of how the mighty can fall, have a look at the Gallup poll's quarterly ratings from 2001 until now.
Wednesday, 19 November 2008
The Australian motor car industry subsidy came close enough to making a mockery of that promise by our Prime Minister but Mr Brumby has gone the whole hog with his decision to favour Victorian manufacturers over foreign rivals for billions of dollars worth of State Government contracts.
"GISS began hastily revising its figures. This only made the confusion worse because, to compensate for the lowered temperatures in Russia, GISS claimed to have discovered a new 'hotspot' in the Arctic - in a month when satellite images were showing Arctic sea-ice recovering so fast from its summer melt that three weeks ago it was 30 per cent more extensive than at the same time last year.
A GISS spokesman lamely explained that the reason for the error in the Russian figures was that they were obtained from another body, and that GISS did not have resources to exercise proper quality control over the data it was supplied with. This is an astonishing admission: the figures published by Dr Hansen's institute are not only one of the four data sets that the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) relies on to promote its case for global warming, but they are the most widely quoted, since they consistently show higher temperatures than the others."
Monday, 17 November 2008
The Sydney Daily Telegraph went quite overboard with its campaign to get rid of the NSW Labor Government and its sales just kept on falling. David Penberthy, the youthful editor who decided that being a political campaigner was the right course for the tabloid, has now been replaced. Presumably his replacement, newspaper veteran Garry Liddell, will put more emphasis on stories that his readers actually want to read and put an end to the political beat ups. This morning’s news sense certainly looks quite different from Penberthy’s efforts last week.
There is no joy at all for the Coalition in the latest opinion polls. The average of the two party vote from the three regular national pollsters has Labor further in front than at the last election.
The leadership change in the Liberal Party has not made a scrap of difference. Malcolm Turnbull's personal rating might be higher than Brendan Nelson's but the Coalition vote has declined rather than increased. And Kevin Rudd continues to maintain a huge advantage as the preferred Prime Minister.
Saturday, 15 November 2008
The contentious part ofOn Thursday before leaving Canberra Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said:
's story revealed that during the 30-minute conversation, Mr Rudd was stunned to hear Mr Bush say: "What's the G20?" We stand by the story with confidence. Franklin
Can I just say that if the White House says and I have said and the US Ambassador has said, that the reported remarks in this article were not made.There is only one conclusion that can be drawn from this. The Australian is alleging that the Australian Prime Minister is not telling the truth
Friday, 14 November 2008
Australian Bureau of Statistics figures out this morning show clearly how
Gross State Product (GSP) for the last year is shown in the table Gross State Product
The Average annual compound growth rate from 1997-98 to 2007-08 saw Queensland growing fastest at 5.0%, followed by WA with 4.4%, the NT 4.3%, the ACT 3.5%, Victoria 3.2%, NSW 2.8%, SA 2.6% and Tasmania 2.5%.
Adjusting for the impact of population growth on movements in GSP last year gives the chart GSP Per Capita.
The Melbourne press is certainly giving the criminal justice system a new dimension.
Thursday, 13 November 2008
Need a little Prime Ministerial fix? Then click on over to KevinPM. The replacement for the Kevin07 website is up and running.
In the master's own words:
I'll be using the site to speak frankly with you about the big challenges facing Australia; the global economy, education, climate change, and the health of Australians, but just as importantly it will enable me to hear your ideas for the direction of the nation. You can submit your feedback using the form below.
The Cairns Post report said the group of about 20 MPs and party officials asked for individual bills and receipts and refused to leave tips, despite complimenting the service of two waiters assigned solely to their table.The booze-up ended when the two remaining MPs ordered final drinks then left, still owing money.
An Opposition spokesman last night confirmed two MPs left Fetta's without paying, but refused to identify them. The Cairns Post understands one of them was Robina MP Ray Stevens, who was also involved in a heated argument with fellow LNP member Ray Hopper over their share of food and drink costs at an Esplanade restaurant the following night.
Editor Mitchell at least has been keeping a discreet silence about what really was said by whom at Kirribilli that night since the Liberal Party started trying to use the Franklin story as evidence of a Prime Minister prepared to put Australian-United States relations in jeopardy for the sake of an amusing throwaway line while pouring another glass of wine. By acting in this Trappist like fashion The Australian's head honcho has unselfishly condemned himself to the feeding of that rumour mill and the continued trashing of his reputation.
The efforts of Family First Senator Steve Fielding to establish an inquiry into the leaking of the phone call would have presented Mr Mitchell with an honourable way out. Because of the high regard in which he holds the Senate he surely could have felt obliged to answer questions put to him. But, alas, this morning the Greens would not support a reference to a Senate committee. "What Senator Fielding - who is quite new in the Senate - doesn't understand is that the Prime Minister can't and won't be brought before such an inquiry," Senator Brown told Alexandra Kirk on AM before the vote. "Either the inquiry will fail, or if there was a move to force witnesses like the Prime Minister before the inquiry, we end up with a constitutional showdown between the houses, with the potential for journalists to be brought before the bar of the house and potentially sent to the dungeon."
Come to think of it, perhaps a little continued speculation about not being a totally honourable dinner guest is preferable to ending up in a Senate slammer for contempt.
Wednesday, 12 November 2008
In determining what is happening in China there is the difficulty of getting reliable information from a very bureaucratic and autocratic state. Official statistics are not as reliable as those from the Australian Bureau of Satistics so we must seize on what clues are available.
And here today's offering is not good. The People's Daily is reporting that "with the financial crisis' heightening sense of menace, many are reconsidering what they can and can't afford - and employing a nanny at 30,000 yuan ($4,280) a year is falling into the latter category." The hurricane howling through the world's financial markets, the People's Daily reports, has left an oversupply of nannies in its wake. A source from a local domestic service company said the city's nanny market had dropped 20 to 30 percent in the past year, with nannies' average salaries also decreasing from 2,000-2,500 yuan to 1,300-1,800 yuan.
The current oversupply of nannies is attributed to a flood of workers laid off as businesses have failed.
The proposal was put forward this morning in a column written for The Australian and shows there is merit in encouraging MPs who are not ministers to supplement their income by a little journalism on the side. Tony Abbott knows that to keep getting the earn he needs so his lifestyle does not suffer too much from the loss of the perks of office that it is necessary to have something to say other than cheap political point scoring. His analysis of federal-state relations does that and is a reminder that he is one of the brighter men to serve in the House of Representatives.
Tony Abbott believes change will come once the Rudd version of co-operative federalism fails, as it inevitably will, so people had better all start thinking about the best ways to make it happen.
Should Victoria be able to veto reform of water use in the Murray-Darling Basin? Should NSW be able to opt out of an education revolution? Should all the states bar Western Australia be able to stymie a national bid to provide more disability accommodation? I doubt it. Should modern Australia consider itself bound by the intergovernmental arrangements of a previous century, even as adjusted by the High Court? Or should matters in dispute be settled by the national parliament as the highest democratic authority in the land? On this, I think we all have a clear sense of where the public really stands.Of the three options for fixing the federation, mere tinkering, on the grounds that this is about as good as it can get, is really a cop-out. Giving more authority and commensurate revenue powers back to the states is possible but implausible. So why not give the national government constitutional authority to match people's expectations about who should really be in charge? Let's amend section 51 of the Constitution ...
Kevin Rudd would be wise to agree and a House of Representatives committee chaired by Tony Abbott would be an excellent way to get things started.
Guinea Bissau, one of the world's poorest nations, was described in a recent Agence France Press report as an important transit point for cocaine coming from
The leader of the newly formed Republican Party for
In September 2006 , 647 kilos of cocaine were seized by the police but the drugs disappeared while being transferred to the public treasury for security reasons.
A little bit of that should help someone have a real Don's Party.
Unfortunately for we election addicts the next poll on the list, that for president of the Ivory Coast scheduled for 30 November, has been postponed indefinitely because of delays in voter registrations and security concerns. We will now have to wait for Ghana on 7 December when drug trafficking will again be a major issue. Kwesi Aning, head of research at the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre recently said he was amazed at the amount of money being splashed around in
It is not known if the NSW Branch of the Labor Party has sent observers to West Africa to observe the latest election fund raising techniques.
Tuesday, 11 November 2008
Phil Gardner has been appointed editor-in-chief of the Herald & Weekly Times newspaper group in
At least in his old paper the sacked editor was given the additional praise of having guided the Herald Sun to the PANPA Newspaper of the Year award. Now that's a golden hand shake for you!
That keeping the truth to the inner circle which understands these things is the preferable course is clear in two commentaries this week appearing in the Sydney Morning Herald. Yesterday that normally sound and seemingly very moral man Ross Gittins had this to say about economic forecasts by the Treasury:
There's more guesswork in economic forecasting than economists like to admit, but that must be doubly true at a time when such unprecedented (and scary) upheavals are occurring in the global economy. The econocrats always err on the optimistic side at this point in the cycle (the point where we ask whether the landing will be soft or hard) and I'm not one to criticise them for that. You've got to cut them some slack.The emphasis declaring that telling pessimistic truths should not be disclosed is mine.
Because they get taken so seriously, the predictions of treasurers and central bank governors have the potential to be self-fulfilling - particularly negative predictions at a time when confidence is lacking - so it's not in the economy's interest to have officials spreading pessimism.
And then today it was Ian Verrender's turn. "Treasurer puts the right accent on the positive" they called his daily financial commentary that outlined the dire circumstances confronting the Australian economy in the coming months as things got tough for China. But don’t frighten the populace.
For the moment, though, Swan is keen to keep the mood buoyant and to play up the positives. He knows expectations become self-fulfilling. And the last thingI suppose we should all the grateful that the mob don't venture into the second half of Granny. If people actually read Ian Verrender and took any notice of his views then what Wayne Swan does or does not say would be irrelevant!
needs now is for fear to take hold. Australia
But maybe, just maybe, relief for Ponting is at hand - at least in the city which the expatriate Tasmanian has made his home. This morning the Sydney Daily Telegraph has taken the egg beater to the future prospects of newly installed Premier Nathan Rees with political writer Simon Benson raising the prospect of him having only a short life expectancy. "ALP plotters stir the pot already over Rees' leadership" said the headline under which Simon Benson wrote that NSW Labor Party bosses have been secretly canvassing backbenchers to gauge waning support for Nathan Rees in the party room, just two months after he was installed as Premier.
The idea that the NSW Labor Party would actually consider installing a new Premier before the next election is so preposterous that perhaps it is true. No stranger than the suggestion from the cricket writers that Australia needs a new captain because Ricky Ponting dared to try and play the game within the spirit of the rules and bowl the correct number of overs in a day.
Friday, 7 November 2008
The receivers of ABC, those nice people from McGrathNicol who are looking forward to a wonderful earn from this company collapse while saying that the "interests of children and families are central to our considerations", are well aware of the political realities. They know the federal government has no option but to provide the money to keep the kiddies with a place to be deposited so they are working, as they said in a letter to the parents yesterday, "constructively with the Group’s management, its financiers, the Australian Government and other stakeholders to determine the way forward."
"Following extensive consultation between the Group’s financiers and the Commonwealth Government, a range of measures is being put in place to ensure the stability of childcare services for ABC families," is how the letter delicately put the matter of this government bailout of a private sector failure. Translated it means that taxpayers will be kicking the receivers can for tens of millions of dollars.
Tuesday, 4 November 2008
Mr Burke, who achieved fame with his Burke's Backyard television program, has taken the job as Gunns Limited's paid "honest broker" for its environmentally challenged Tasmanian mill.
"I don't like old-growth logging," he told the Sydney Morning Herald when his paid appointment was announced. "My track record is going into the areas where the greenies will never go, and actually getting better outcomes."
Gunns executive chairman John Gay confirmed Burke's role. "We're committed to sustainable environmental practices and Don will have no problem telling us if we are falling short," he said.
With our Crikey Audacious Lobbyist of the Year Award we are looking for the lobbyist, company or lobby group that in 2008 has employed the most deceptive, misleading, or otherwise problematic lobbying tactics in their attempts to influence political decision-making. The first nominee was Clubs Australia President Peter Newell whose story appeared in Crikey on 22 October.
Entries from readers are encouraged and should be emailed to to firstname.lastname@example.org before 14 November. Our judging panel at Crikey will draw up a short list to put to a vote of readers.
Those positively un-Australian people who gather around the Reserve Bank Board table every Melbourne Cup Day are the kind of narks who would just love to upset favourite backers so take the short price about a half a percent fall in interest rates at you peril. Last month they surprised the market by going for a full one percent reduction when the half was the odds on pick and maybe they'll do it again. Here's the latest latest Crikey Indicator on the November decision:
Clearly the government decision is intended to provide an incentive to someone to take over the operation of the totalisator in a way that minimises the compensation the government will have to find to pay the existing operator Tabcorp for handing over its existing infrastructure and agency network.
Watching in a rather horrified fashion from the sidelines as Mr Hulls tries to ensure a future for the racing codes at somewhere close to their existing prosperity are Racing Victoria Limited, Harness Racing Victoria and Greyhound Racing Victoria. These three controlling bodies are beginning to understand that there is a real risk they will receive far less revenue from the new totalisator operator which will not have a share of poker machine revenue. Their chairmen last night issued a joint statement in response to the Government’s "announcement of wagering tax reforms for the new wagering licence to offset the loss of VRI (Victorian Racing Industry) gaming revenue from 2012 and to legislate for a review and adjustment process for ensuring the tax rates meet that objective."
The joint statement is clearly sceptical that the Government decision to reduce the government tax take from wagering will provide sufficient compensation. It said:
“The diversity and growth of gaming revenue has been a critical asset to the VRI since 1994 and its loss must be fully addressed.This is going to be a messy and troubling negotiation for the racing industries as the Treasury will be reluctant to continue the generosity that then Premier Jeff Kennett bestowed on them when he privatised the TAB. The gambling industry has changed considerably in the last few years after the Northern Territory Government broke ranks and gave favourable taxation conditions to corporate bookmakers and the High Court hinted thatrestrictions on advertising by them were illegal.
“We will work with the Government to ensure that there is an agreed safety net that properly takes into account the full extent of the loss of the VRI’s ongoing normal gaming revenue and the future growth it would have achieved over the period of the new licence had the gaming licence structure not been changed.
“It is imperative that the Government work closely with the VRI to develop an effective mechanism that will adjust the tax rate to fully meet the loss of gaming revenue and that the partnership agreement between the VRI and the new licensee delivers the funding arrangements that are necessary to secure a viable and growing foundation for the VRI’s long term prosperity."
A glance at the advertisements in the Melbourne Cup form guides shows how the corporates are appealing to anyone half serious about having a punt. Tabcorp has joined in with its own corporate bookmaking business to add to the poaching of tote turnover and by 2012 the agencies it must be prepared to hand back will be the expensive to operate dinosaurs of the betting business.
Those international invaders lining up at 3pm for a share of that $5.5 million in prize money should enjoy it while they can. The way things are going the horses will be racing for considerably less in the Melbourne Cup five years from now.
RBA may hold back on rate cut
David Uren, Economics correspondent | November 03, 2008
EXPECTATIONS that the Reserve Bank will cut official interest rates by 50 basis points tomorrow could be dashed, with a chance emerging of a smaller reduction or even none at all because of the inflationary effect of the Government's economic stimulus package. …
Reserve Bank to cut interest rates as housing prices crash
David Uren, Economics correspondent | November 04, 2008
THE biggest fall in house prices in 30 years and manufacturing output dropping to recession levels will leave the Reserve Bank board with no alternative but to cut interest rates again today.
Saturday, 1 November 2008
The latest scandal, written about today in the Hong Kong edition of the China Daily, is the way that the industrial chemical and human poison melamine is used in animal feed. This case is far worse that the one earlier this year which resulted in the death of many dogs in the United States. This time it is people who are liable to suffer as the melamine travels through infected animals into the human food chain.
This week, said the China Daily report, four brands of eggs were found to contain the chemical and it quoted a story from the Nanfang Daily on Thursday which said it was an "open secret" in the livestock and fish food industry that melamine was mixed into animal feed. Melamine scrap was repackaged in to a product labelled "protein powder" and the sold to feed suppliers.