Defending the indefensible. Retired Queensland Premier Peter Beattie demeaned himself at the weekend as he attempted to justify changing his mind and copping that sweet little job as a State Government trade representative in California. Writing in The Australian, Mr Beattie tried to show how ethical he was in taking a job on the public purse where he could use all the experience he gained as a politician rather than selling that expertise to some private enterprise company. The argument might have been half plausible but for one thing: the job itself is unnecessary.

McCain winning from Democrat fighting. Republican presidential candidate Senator John McCain appears to be the real beneficiary from the problems Barack Obama is having with being a churchgoer — his discomfort does not seem to be doing much for rival Hillary Clinton. The Real Clear Politics website which tracks the US opinion polls now has McCain leading both Obama and Clinton.

Joining the USA. The binge-drinking debate is getting up a nice head of steam as we prepare for the Labor Government’s 2020 talkfest with increasing the legal drinking age from 18 to 21 being the latest proposal to gain support from the neo-prohibitionists. The plan would see Australia join the United States as the only country in the world with such a high age limit as this table shows:

No Minimum

Armenia, Azerbaijan, China, Fiji, Nigeria, Poland*, Portugal, Soviet Georgia, Thailand, Vietnam

Age 16

Antigua, Austria, Belgium, France, Germany*, Greece*, Italy, Netherlands*, Norway*, Poland, Spain*, Turkey*, Switzerland*

Age 18

Argentina, Australia, Bahamas, Barbados, Bermuda, Brazil, British Virgin Islands, Canada (age 19 in some provinces), Chile, Colombia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland*, Hong Kong, Hungary, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Jamaica, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg (age 17 with an adult), Malaysia, Mexico, Moldova, Mongolia, New Zealand*, Peru, Phillipines, Puerto Rico, Russia, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, South Africa, St. Maarten, Sweden*, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, United Kingdom (age 16 in restaurants), Uruguay, Venezuela

Age 19

South Korea

Age 20

Japan, Iceland

Age 21

United States (while it is commonly believed that the minimum drinking age is 21, people can legally drink below that age under many different circumstances.)

* with exceptions

The Daily Reality Check

Australian politicians really should just have had a holiday over Easter instead of pretending that people wanted to listen to what they had to say. The clear evidence of four days of internet news sites is that the mind of people was on other things. Hardly a political story made the most read list of any site over Easter

The Pick of this Morning’s Political Coverage

The Pick of the Easter Weekend Political Coverage

I suppose we can put it down to the decision long ago by governments to produce spending estimates not just for the coming budget year but for future years as well but things are now getting out of hand. To make a decision to spend or save seem impressive, journalists, aided and abetted by the politicians with a point of view to push, now multiply the annual figure by whatever number of years takes their fancy. Hence, at first glance, Saturday’s headline in The Australian that the Defence Department has been ordered to slash $10 billion in spending makes it look like the Labor razor gang is about to starve our military of so much money that the defence of the country will be impossible. Read on and you discover that the savings being asked for are $1 billion a year which, when multiplied by 10, gives us that mighty figure of $10 billion. Maybe The Oz is about to join The Age and The SMH as a broadloid!

Peter Fray

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