Taller Men Wear Longer Trousers. Sociologists are experts at proving the obvious and the latest example comes in the form of a research paper titled Fertility and Family Policy in Australia released by the Australian Institute of Family Studies. The Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, Jenny Mackllin, yesterday announced the staggering finding that “ongoing pressures on working families are preventing many women from having children.” The research paper, Ms Macklin confided, found that “even with economic security, couples lacked confidence in their ability to create and maintain a family environment which provided emotional and financial support for children. Their decision to not have children was also influenced by other factors including difficulties in accessing childcare, job insecurity and the cost of housing.” What an earth shattering piece of research!

The binge drinking debate. Prime Minister Kevin “I was only a binge drinker once” Rudd has given Tim Costello his support to making curbs on alcohol consumption part of the 2020 summit. “I think we have got a real problem in this country when it comes to binge drinking,” the PM said yesterday.”You know, I don’t have a lot of science to back it up, but let me tell you, as I roll around the country, if Mums and Dads are raising this with me in the supermarkets of the nation, on a regular basis, my ears prick up and say, ‘there’s a problem’. What I see happening around the streets myself is a problem. They still allow me out at night from time to time in this current job. And so, what I see is a bit of a problem too. Therefore, when Tim says that, I say good on him. Because the whole reason why we have structured this 2020 summit is to look at long term challenges for the nation which often don’t get proper and focussed national debate.” Meanwhile, down in Tasmania, that state’s Health Minister Lara Giddings was more skeptical about the Costello plan to cut back on alcohol trading hours. “You can create problems, in fact, where you have early closing of bars where all bars close at say 1am,” Ms Giddings said. “In fact that was a big problem in the Launceston area, where there were lots of punch-ups happening because bars closed at a certain time and everyone was out on the street at the same time. It was encouraged to have longer hours and staggered hours of closure. We should not rush in.” Perhaps she should take the PM on a fact finding tour.

Faith Based Schools and Social Cohesion. The Liberal Party has been quick to seize on a report in the  The Age quoting Professor Barry McGaw’, the man heading up the National Curriculum Board, saying “the rapid growth of faith-based schools under the previous federal government has threatened the social cohesion of the nation…” This morning the Liberals featured the remark in its email newsletter under the heading “Labor’s attack on private schools”.

No Surprises in Russia. There are no surprises expected in this weekend’s Russian Presidential election. Vladimir Putin’s anointed successor Dmitry Medvedev was last traded on the prediction exchanges as a 97.5% probability of winning and no one is currently offering a price at all. It is more of a contest in Italy where Silvio Berlusconi is currently a 65% chance on the Crikey Italian election indicator to return as Prime Minister with Walter Veltroni at 23% and all others at 12%. In Spain Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero is 78% on the Crikey Spanish Election Indicator Mariano Rajoy Breywith 18% and any other 4%.

The Daily Reality Check

There are 50 stories each day in the top-five most read items on the 10 internet news sites Crikey surveys and they probably give a good indication of the things that really interest people. Studying the list gives you an appreciation of just why it takes a long time to change public opinion about matters political. The vast majority of people do not really care about the issues which still dominate the coverage in our newspapers. Little wonder, perhaps, that newspaper sales are tending downwards. The flavour of what people actually like reading can be gained from this morning’s most read lists from the Sydney Morning Herald and the  The Age.

The SMH Top Five

  • I lost 26kg with stingy exchange family: teen
  • ‘Insane’ Hayden will get a fight, says player
  • Jealous man emails nude photos of lover
  • Lover warned to keep quiet
  • Bikies stop machete-wielding robbers

The Age Top Five

  • Child-care giant faces break-up
  • Hayden charge over radio slur
  • 11 dead after plane crash into gym class
  • ‘Miraculous’ 12-hour swim to safety
  • Outrage over ‘racist’ South African video

The Pick of this Morning’s Political Coverage

Partners to help build big projects: Albanese – Katharine Murphy, The Age
A committee set up every four days by Rudd team – Phil Coorey, Sydney Morning Herald
NSW scandal could happen anywhere – Mike Steketee, The Australian
Crisis? What Crisis? Iemma, Sartor ICAC-donor links – Joe Hildebrand, Michelle Cazzulino and Simon Benson, Daily Telegraph
Fights fear on bar curbs – Philippa Duncan, The Mercury

Peter Fray

Inoculate yourself against the spin

Get Crikey for just $1 a week and protect yourself against news that goes viral.

If you haven’t joined us yet, subscribe today to get your first 12 weeks for $12 and get the journalism you need to navigate the spin.

Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey