The Headline seeker. Kevin Rudd is a skilled man in the search for a headline and the 10 second television news grab. On 18 November he promised that Parliament would meet before Christmas. The impression of a new Prime Minister keen to get on with the job was well received. Parliament met for the first time yesterday. On 29 November he promised that there would be no holidays for his new ministry but for Christmas Day and Boxing Day. Once again, the image of a team keen to get on with the job. In truth the government went into the normal Christmas holiday hibernation with Mr Rudd at the cricket and his deputy Julia Gillard acting as boss. And yesterday we saw the extent of another Labor promise – the promise that Parliament under Labor would sit for five days in a week not the four or even three that marked the Howard years. When the Leader of the House Anthony Albanese unveiled changes to the standing orders setting out the rules for this new “full-time” parliamentary week it became clear that the extra sitting day on a Friday would be nothing more than a Clayton’s sitting day. There will be no question time, no votes and no quorums; what Parliament will have is a talk fest day where members can be present if they want to get something on the record while having no real need to be present at all.

People become assets. There was a time when soldiers were people but no longer. In the brave new world of Kevin 08 they have become assets. Assets as in: “I also want to make sure in my own mind that we have sufficient deployment of assets to assist the democratically elected Government of East Timor”; “And, we need to make sure we’ve got adequate deployable assets to respond to contingencies in the neighbourhood.”; “what I need is some defence assets and police assets”. Just three examples from a recent Prime Ministerial interview. How quickly politicians start speaking in jargon when they become members of a government!

The Senator other MPs love to hate. Some things have not changed in the 42nd Parliament of Australia – Bob Brown is still in the Senate pursuing the kind of honesty which makes his peers squirm as they warn of the inflationary dangers of wage rises while trying to hide their own efforts to secure an increases. The Greens Leader wasted no time yesterday in listing for debate the need for politicians to practice for themselves what they preach to others. There is unlikely to be a clamour to get his motion debated and no chance at all of it actually being carried.

Our vigilant Customs. Fresh from their observation of Japanese whalers, tussles with drug lords and the interception of counterfeit cigarettes, our brave Customs agents have crushed the evil OMO smuggling ring. Our clothes are now safe from the torture of fake Chinese made washing powder.

The wonderful hypocrisy of politics. Labor’s national leader Kevin Rudd and company spent many words condemning the scandal of the millions spent on government advertising before his last election. In Western Australia, Labor Treasurer Eric Ripper as chairman of the Cabinet sub-committee on communication, has “urgently” asked the expenditure review committee, which he chairs, for $5.25 million for the first half of this year and a further $10.75 million until July next year. Government sources said the money was to be spent on “strategic advertising campaigns”.

Obama v McCain . With results coming in showing Barack Obama again doing well against Hillary Clinton, the Crikey US Election Indicator now has the Senator from Illinois a 74% chance of becoming the Democratic Party for President with the long-time favourite, New York Senator Hillary Clinton, a 26% chance. Despite another good showing by former Governor Mike Huckabee in another bible belt state, Senator John McCain is assessed on the Indicator as a 97% probability of becoming the Republican candidate with Huckabee at 3%. When it comes to the main event on the first Tuesday in November the Indicator has the Democrats at 66% with the Republicans at 34%. The Crikey Indicators are based on prices quoted on the Intrade prediction market.

The Daily Reality Check

Around the country this morning the front page of most newspapers previewed the national apology to the stolen generation of Aborigines. Even The Hobart Mercury , the leading paper in the state with perhaps the blackest record for treating indigenous people, featured nothing else. Up in Darwin, the headline in the Northern Territory News, the mouthpiece of the home for most of the people being apologised to, screamed “Jail the drunk who broke my dad’s leg”. There was room on the front for brief stories about a Senator’s son being in a car crash and a Minister resigning from the Territory Government but just a little pointer to politicians saying sorry. On the intenet news websites surveyed by Crikey, reconciliation was the most read story making this one of those rare days when something political outranked the standard celebrity fare.

The Pick of This Morning’s Political Coverage

Sorry, our national apology to the stolen generation – Adam Gaartrell, The Mercury

Opposition won’t let AWAs go without a fight – Michelle Grattan, The Age

Business resigned to Labor’s IR changes – Lenore Taylor and Steven Scott, Australian Financial Review

Analysts warn on tax cuts – Marc Moncrief, The Age

Inflation may rob poor of raise – Brad Norrington, The Australian

‘Kramer fears’ over 10c can levy – Nic Henderson, Adelaide Advertiser

Peter Fray

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