Don’t ask too many questions. State premiers don’t have iconic residences like The Lodge or Kirribilli House, but they do have busy hospitality schedules. The taxpayer, one way or the other, foots the bill for these. John Howard’s entertainment schedule is under close scrutiny. How do state shindigs measure up?
Kicking into the breeze. Academic and all round stirrer Ross Fitzgerald became the subject of the PM’s ire earlier this year after an opinion piece in The Australian on hitman Heffernan. Today he writes about a safer subject – football. Perhaps he might be able to move back into his field of expertise with an item on dodgy political sporting allegiances. Paul Keating’s latter day enthusiasm for Collingwood might be a good start. And Ross will be safe from the PM. No-one doubts his commitment to the Dragons.
Lifesavers aid Turnbull. It wasn’t online, but an item in the Sunday Telegraph caused a stir yesterday. “North Bondi lifesavers were last night awarded $1.7 million to give their ‘ratty’ surf club a facelift,” it read. “Prime Minister John Howard announced the grant — believed to be the largest sum ever given to a lifesaving club — at a ceremony last night.” So now we know the government’s marginal strategy. Bribery – even in one of the wealthiest electorates in the country.
You’ve never had it so good. “Tens of thousands of Australian families are being forced to raid their superannuation savings to pay off crippling personal debts,” the Fairfax Sundays reported yesterday. Which sorta kinda puts the PM’s boasts last week to be the battler’s friend in a whole new light.
Torquemada talk. Everyone knows that Alex Hawke, the newly preselected candidate for the second safest Liberal seat in the country, is a raving ratbag. A few thinking Liberals have something to say about the process that has put him on the fast track to Canberra. A 29-year-old political hack with minimal experience has been given a gift on a platter. Across town, in Wentworth, a Rhodes Scholar who took on MI5 in the courts, ran Goldman Sachs and made millions from his own hard work and brains has a marginal. Do the Liberals seriously want to win?
Dog bites rodent? There were some interesting observations on matters economic in an interview with the PM in Saturday’s Sydney Morning Herald. Does the Treasurer agree with Kevin Rudd about the resources boom?:
“The whole Labor economic philosophy is based on the belief that the mining boom is going to end,” he [the Prime Minister] said.
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“Why shouldn’t the nation’s approach be that we should keep the mining boom going indefinitely?”
China and other Asian nations had “enormous growth left in them”, Mr Howard said.
“Labor has a defeatist attitude and is calculating that it will end soon. It will end soon if they bring in their industrial relations policy.”
Mr Howard’s view is at odds with a declaration by his Treasurer, Peter Costello, last November that the mining boom was over.
Mr Costello told the Herald: “I think we’ve reached a high point, and I think prices are going to return to more normal levels. The increase in commodity prices, the mining boom that was the story of the last couple of years, I don’t think will be the story of the next couple of years.”