Cannot run away forever from unemployment. In the end politicians are judged not by what they say will or will not happen but by what actually happens; which makes the decision by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd not to use the word “unemployment” a strange one. It is hard to see how the economic slow down which the Reserve Bank is trying to engineer with its increases in official interest rates can occur without jobs becoming harder to get. Several times this week the Prime Minister has ducked questions about whether unemployment is likely to increase and he has accused anyone in the Opposition who suggests that this is what will happen of talking down the economy. It is a strange policy. The talk means nothing. It is the figures that will tell the story. And if, unbelievably, the PM has no idea what will happen, why not just say that in answer to the question.

Talk around the tea trolley (1). Word is slowly filtering down from the top echelons of the Canberra public service to those lower levels where they actually do the work on government programs about the impact new Labor Ministers are having on departmental programs. The consensus seems to be that the new team has quite unreal expectations as to the time it actually takes to do things with time frames that are impossible to meet being set by inexperienced ministerial advisers. Implementing promised new Labor policies while being expected to cut back on staff numbers will soon take its toll with departmental secretaries soon faced with hard decisions about what existing functions must be cut back so priority can be given to the new ones.

Talk around the tea trolley (2). Political groupies should put a new program on their must watch list if morning tea time conversations mean anything. Forget about that Four Corners with its boring retrospective on a long dead Queensland Premier. Good News Week on Channel 10 at 8.30pm on Monday is where it’s all at. I was alerted to the importance of this satirical chat show as a purveyor of attitudes about politics when I overheard a couple of bright young things earnestly chatting over coffee about the Rudd Labor Government setting up so many inquiries. They didn’t think it was the decisive government they expected from Labor. Their information had come from the first edition of GNW.

The day the mood will change. The first really significant period for the Labor Government is not the first 100 days just gone but the time coming soon when working members of working families receive the next summary of their superannuation wealth. It has been quite comforting for people during the good times of the last decade to see how the wonders of compound interest have affected family wealth. When the statements arrive showing that the super balance has actually fallen as the result of an appreciating Aussie dollar and a falling Aussie stock market, the shock is bound to be considerable. Labor should hope that it can get through to the masses the idea that current economic troubles really are the result of that profligate Howard government.

The Daily Reality Check

Some days you just know it was a search engine that was responsible. How else to explain how an earnest story about tensions on the borders of Colombia topped the most read list on news.com.au? The normal fare of this website is illustrated by the other stories on the top five most read list – You Tube R-pe Mum’s Horror, Military investigates puppy throwing horror, Was the bible written while high? and Uncle beheads toddler in supermarket. It had to be other than regular readers who elevated the South American trouble spot. Elsewhere it was sport – or should that be stories like Symonds charging a streaker that have a sporting background – that predominated on the internet news sites. They easily out-rated that sombre news about interest rate rises and anything else political.

The Pick of this morning’s Political Coverage

Real or imagined greedy and/or lazy politicians are wonderful targets for journalists so Opposition Leader Dr Brendan Nelson must be wishing that his former Cabinet colleagues who have grown disinterested in a House of Representatives career would pack up and quickly retire. This morning the Murdoch tabloids carry the Steve Lewis story about former Deputy Prime Minister and retired National Party Leader Mark Vaile doing a little bit of work on the side in the Middle East for a former donor to Coalition campaign funds. To make matters worse the new mouth from the south Alexander Downer has chipped in so the story can also remind readers of his missing a parliamentary question time to have an extended lunch and being absent from other parliamentary sitting to have a round of golf with the same Mr Vaile.

Coalition of the unwilling – Steve Lewis, The Daily Telegraph
$10,000 price fall predicted – Paul Austin and Cameron Houston, The Age
Mortgage relief in sight for homeowners – David Uren, The Australian
Big Squeeze: Rate rise squeezes homeowners – Ben Packham and George Lekakis, Herald Sun
Resort query on pokie deal – Sue Neales, The Mercury

Peter Fray

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