Jackie Kelly’s big tees. What on earth is the Member for Lindsay thinking of? Jackie Kelly has rabbited on to the Penrith Press about a clothing business she’s starting with “a girlfriend from Coffs Harbour”. Quick to spot a trend, they’re launching a range of t-shirts and shorts featuring the Australian flag, under the label “Wear Australian”. For more information about the products ring (02) 4732 2844. Yep, that’s her Penrith Electoral office. — Diana Gribble 

Betting on a Fall. Treasurer Peter Costello will he happy this morning that the Reserve Bank has kept interest rates steady and hoping that in the months to come that the seven out of 24 economists surveyed by financial news agency Bloomberg are correct in predicting a fall before year’s end. Costello knows that his chances of becoming the next Liberal Party leader, and perhaps the next Prime Minister, depend on economic conditions remaining favourable. He certainly does not want the three economists who told Bloomberg this morning that the next interest rate movement will be up to prove right. The government, and Mr Costello, could live with the majority of 14 in the no change brigade getting it correct provided other things go their way. In the view of the betting market, things are now getting very close. The Crikey election indicator based on the odds offered by the country’s three leading bookmakers this morning has the Government a 51% chance to Labor’s 49%. Labor has improved from 39% back in the first week of December. — Richard Farmer

Ambassador in Italy fires up. As he waits for Amanda Vanstone to loom over the horizon, our ambassador in Italy has taken a swing at his host’s domestic affairs. He has joined ambassadors from Great Britain, Canada, Holland and Romania in signing an open letter to Italian politicians, encouraging them to leave their troops in Afghanistan. A Romanian newspaper reports that “authorities and the media in Rome consider the call ‘a gaffe’, a subject of ‘surprise’ and a ‘rather unusual’ gesture.” — Diana Gribble

Ummm, she works for us. Ian Macdonald, the senator from Queensland, was in full voice yesterday defending the “mighty job” done by the marine officers who man Customs’ patrol boats. “It is always very easy to criticise,” he told the parliament, “as the ALP regularly do and as irresponsible newspapers like the West Australian and irresponsible reporters like Regina Titelius do – people and papers who really have little interest in Australia’s wellbeing.” Someone should tell the good senator that Regina Titelius now works for the government in the office of Senator Ian Campbell – following him from Environment to Human Services. — Diana Gribble

Peter Fray

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