A graceless apology. There was a time when people used to speak about officers and gentlemen in the same breath but in Australia that appears to no longer be the case. An award for offering a graceless apology to a woman rightly aggrieved by a government must surely go to the Australian Defence Department for its belated statement last night half-heartedly admitting it did wrong by putting the name of an entertainer in a note to the Defence Minister about allegations of “inappropriate behaviour during a Forces Entertainment Tour to Afghanistan”. In many ways the words of Defence spokesman, Brigadier Andrew Nikolic, were not an apology at all as they put the emphasis on how the document came to be improperly released to the Sydney Daily Telegraph rather than on the inappropriateness of using the woman’s name in the first place. And as for the Hon. Joel Fitzgibbon MP, Minister for Defence, there was little honourable about his churlish statement; he offered no apology whatsoever but attacked the Opposition Defence spokesman Senator Nick Minchin, who had called for one, saying his “attempts to play politics with what at this stage is an allegation only has dragged the state of the Liberal Party to new lows.” At least Minchin knows how a gentleman should behave to protect the honour of a lady!

A slight change of emphasis. I notice a slight change of emphasis in the way that Prime Minister Kevin Rudd uses that hackneyed phrase “working families.” We are now quite often getting a comma and a qualification after its use as in this example from a speech yesterday: “But we do want to build a strong economy that delivers for working families, working Australians , and those that are doing it tough – In other words, an economy that extends opportunity to all Australians.” Perhaps the PM’s spinners are awakening to the extent that single people are irked by continually being ignored (perhaps based on yesterday’s Australian story claiming singles had turned to the Libs in the last election). No doubt we will hear much more about “working Australians” until the retired Australians begin to feel slighted, at which time the whole silly phrase “working families” might be retired for good.

The Daily Reality Check

It was a Northern Territory editor’s dream this morning – a crocodile and a shark in the same picture! With the two inhabitants of the water most likely to strike fear into the hearts of tabloid readers it was no wonder the NT News headlined it the battle of the titans — a 2.5m saltie dining out on a shark it plucked from the Daly River.

The Pick of this Morning’s Political Coverage

Some time in the next couple of months the Rudd Government will make an appointment that potentially will affect Australians more than any of the politicians doing the choosing. How the Chief Judge of the High Court interprets The Constitution plays a major role in how governments govern — whether the drift towards the concentration of power in the federal administration continues or whether there is a return to giving state governments the important role the founders of the country envisaged. Yet, rather strangely, little has been written about the impending appointment, which makes Michael Pelly’s review this morning of the candidates such interesting reading.

What the world is reading on the net

Quote of the Day:

Perhaps more distressing than the number of homeless people in Australia is the fact that on any given night seven out of 10 homeless people are turned away from shelters because there’s simply no room at the inn.

— Prime Minister Kevin Rudd releasing a green paper on homelessness.