At least one Labor candidate has spelt their name wrong on the nomination form.

John Howard announced last week an increase in GP training numbers to combat the shortage all over Australia. The press failed to link this with the reduction in GP training places in 1997 that created the mess in the first place. A good summary of the changes by Bob Birrell is here. The changes were fundamentally to reduce costs to Medicare and involved firstly requiring all doctors to undergo RACGP training before being granted access to Medicare and secondly restricting the training place numbers to only 400 – many less than the numbers needed to maintain GP numbers. On the ABC’s Difference of Opinion recently Michael Wooldridge admitted they had got it wrong. Why is the current government not held to account for this blunder that affects most of rural Australia – National Party heartland? Why has it taken them 10 years to wake up to the disaster?

Rendition is the new movie due to open next week which tells of an innocent man grabbed by the CIA and taken to a foreign country for torture. It stars Jake Gyllenhaal, Reese Witherspoon and Meryl Streep. There are eery parallels with the Mamdouh Habib case. It was due to open here on 15 November. Suddenly it’s been yanked from the schedules. No explanation given. Local reviewers were already warming up to give it 4 star+ ratings but to no avail. Village Roadshow are saying nothing just asking reviewers to desist and for cinema owners to remove the posters.

Is former Hawke and Keating government minister Peter Duncan really filling in his time in between court appearances on three counts of defrauding the commonwealth of thousands of dollars in grants by taking a hands-on role in Labor’s campaign for the marginal seat of Sturt?

A friend was talking to Senator Ronaldson earlier in the week who said that whatever happens on election day Howard will be rolled within a week or two.

I lunched in Woollahra yesterday where all the Liberal Party chatter was about giving Malcolm Turnbull a clean run into state parliament and the Liberal leadership if he loses Wentworth.

Despite the rent free digs (for the mo) and Johnny’s salary, Hyacinth watches the family purse strings. She reads so many books with her feet up in Kirribilli Lodge she travels up Sydney’s northern beaches to a second-hand bookstore. Not just any second-hand bookstore but one that gives you half the purchase price back when you return them.

Watch the Hong Kong stock market this afternoon: Citygroup’s new losses and China’s shock decision to delay new investment rules could see the 40% rise since August cut back sharply.

The diplomat who was involved in Habib’s rendition from Pakistan to Egypt, Alastair Adams, is the same Alastair Adams who was responsible for the Jake Kovco body snafu in Kuwait. DFAT have probably rewarded him with a promotion or two!

Unparliamentary? In Wellington NZ our High Commissioner’s West African partner is known locally as “Black Rod”.

It seems the Rev Fred Nile is visiting the Royal North Shore Hospital in the next couple of days as part of his inquiry into the hospital. The hospital has just spent $45,000 on 45 contract cleaners for 2 days at $60 an hour so the place is spick and span when he arrives. I guess they can cancel a few operations to adjust the budget.

A Muslim school in Camden, NSW, is being considered. Some residents have started a SMS campaign to stop the school being allowed by council. They are meeting on the 4/11/07 at Belgenny Reserve to discus.

Murdoch University is offering a Bachelor of Arts (Security, Terrorism and Counterterrorism). An excerpt about the course, advertised on mycareer.com.au, reads: “Graduates of this degree will be excellent candidates for recruitment into the intelligence services, as well as in the Departments of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Defence, DIMIA, Customs Service and the Attorney-General’s Office. Alternative careers could be in international journalism, international business and corporate management.”

Myer’s B1 and B2 have gone uncharacteristically quiet of late. With David Jones expected to announce strong Q1 sales in the next week or so, Myer has turned in a dismal sales decline of between 7 and 8% for the same period, with lower than expected margins. The strategy of cutting to greatness appears not to be working. Staff turnover is also an issue, as mid level people flee private equity owners in the aftermath of bonus payments on the back of last year’s huge cost-reduction driven profit. Don’t hold out for a repeat performance this year – not much left to cut.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
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