Praise for ASIO. The Australian Security Intelligence Organisation is continuing to show its worth with the way it is handling within Australia the inevitable tensions between the Serbian and Albanian communities over the declaration of independence by Kosovo and the Australian Government’s support for that independence. Right back from the start of the disintegration of Yugoslavia, ASIO has very skillfully handled the ethnic communities involved. Quietly and without public fuss it has identified Serb, Croat, Macedonian, Albanian and Slovenian community leaders and guided them towards limiting demonstrations. Over the last 16 years there has been minimal violence between groups with a positive dislike of each other and credit should be given where it is due. ASIO has done its job.

Thanks be to Robert. Kevin Rudd proved back in November that just a little bit closer to the mid-point of public opinion than your opponent is where a successful political party positions itself. Thus he will not be at all concerned that Melbourne academic Robert Manne and some fellow “public intellectuals” are putting up ideas in a series of Dear Kevin letters. The rather radical reforms that are being advocated will be rejected in a way that allows Mr Rudd to again confirm that he is very much a man of the centre. The louder the screams from people attacking him for not being a proper Labor idealist, the more support Mr Rudd will retain.

Dire straits of the Liberal Party. If proof was needed of how far the Liberal Party has sunk in public estimation, the Nielsen Poll in this morning’s Sydney Morning Herald shows it. Notwithstanding a failing hospital system and continuing allegations of corrupt involvement by party members with property developers, the State Labor Government, according to Nielsen, would still win an election. Perhaps the message from all this is that the mob have decided that politics is irrelevant to their lives and that the readership of the website with its stories of celebrities is an accurate measure of public opinion than the regular page one splashes in the paper about each new scandal.

Getting with the winner. The fearless columnists of The Australian will have a nice test in coming weeks as they turn their attention to Kevin 08’s Australia 2020 summit now that News Limited chairman John Hartigan is heading the panel turning its attention to the “future of Australian governance.” Some columnists might have thought that an essential ingredient of good governance in a democracy was for a free press to sit in judgment of a government rather than join in the governing process. I will read with interest.

Quote of the Day as Rudd Government Supports Vegans. “Guilt-free beauty is often unattainable these days, with carbon footprints, animal testing, harsh chemicals and other modern nasties often the price paid for great cosmetics. Inika makes guilt-free beauty a reality with all-natural ingredients that do not harm animals or the environment in either production or disposal.” – Austrade’s London-based Senior Trade Commissioner Kylie Hargreaves on an all-natural mineral, vegan and cruelty free cosmetics range developed from the Thriving Healthy Women Network.

The Daily Reality Check

Something of a record this morning. The websites of the Murdoch tabloids did not have a single political story on their top five most read list this morning. But wait. There’s more – or should that be less: no politics on the Age and Sydney Morning Herald broadloid sites either. Those serious standbys, the ABC and The Australian websites, each had one local politics story make it and, surprise, surprise, so did the normally light weight NineMSN and When those two have more readers interested in politics than you do, you are really reaching for the lowest common denominator.

The Pick of this Morning’s Political Coverage

Rudd rebuffs states on health – Imre Salusinszky and Matthew Franklin, The Australian.
Pay gap grows as low-skilled staff lose out – Ben Schneiders, The Age
Rudd names his summit team – Phillip Coorey, Sydney Morning Herald
Territory licence plates may be scrapped – Matt Cunningham, Northern Territory News
Butcher of Bega ‘maimed genitals’ – Janet Fife-Yeomans and Kate Sikora, Daily Telegraph

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey