A somber Prime Minister. Treasurer Wayne Swan had his best poker face on when Brendan Nelson was giving his budget speech last night but could not contain traces of an occasional smirk. Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, by contrast, remained dead pan and serious throughout as well he might have. Dr Nelson’s words showed that there is every prospect of a repeat of the problems that confronted the Whitlam Government which had to govern without a Senate majority back in the 1970s. The Coalition partners are showing no sign of accepting that there is anything like a mandate for Labor and are promising to be as obstructionist as possible. Governing under these circumstances is going to be tough and the arrival of a few more Greens and an Independent after 1 July is not going to improve things much.

The Daily Reality Check

The budget speech itself caused barely a ripple of interest so it is no surprise that the right of reply exercised by Leader of the Opposition Dr Brendan Nelson is hardly top of the pops this morning. Not a single most read sticker on the internet sites we survey but the prospect of defeat in the Senate for some of Labor’s key proposals at least had Dr Nelson on the top five lists of The Australian, The Age and the Sydney Morning Herald.

The Pick of this Morning’s Political Coverage

What the world is reading on the net

People in China might know that Jim Walton, the president of CNN, has apologized for remarks made on the international television news network that the Chinese Government found insulting but readers of the CNN website would be blissfully unaware. The People’s Daily trumpets the apology today and the story has risen to the top of the site’s most read story list despite the competition from the devastating earthquake in Sichuan. The official Communist Party paper illustrates its account of Mr Walton’s apology with what looks like a copy of something that might have appeared on CNN itself.

A check this morning of cnn.com found nothing remotely like The People’s Daily graphic which apparently was dummied up by a Lin Hanzhi for the Chinese official Xinhua newsagency. The last story on CNN about the remarks made by its commentator Jack Cafferty was on 17 April which reported the Chinese Foreign Ministry saying that CNN had not done enough to ease its concerns over a commentator who referred to the Chinese as “goons and thugs” and said products manufactured in China were junk.” The People’s Daily report quotes Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang saying that Mr Walton, in a letter to Chinese ambassador to the United States Zhou Wenzhong, wrote that “On behalf of CNN I’d like to apologize to the Chinese people for that.”

Quote of the Day:

How can any government boast of a budget that proposes to put 134,000 Australians out of work? Under the Coalition it was ‘welfare to work’. Under Labor, we are headed again on the road of work to welfare.

— Dr Brendan Nelson, Leader of the Opposition, in his budget reply speech.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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