A by-election coming on. Just in case anyone had forgotten, Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Tony Burke reminded us yesterday that there’s a by-election coming on. There is going to be, you see, an independent audit (that’s right – add another inquiry to the Labor Government’s growing list) looking specifically at the treatment of Bass Strait scallop fishers by the former Liberal-National government. And where might those good fisher folk be? Why, down at the Lakes Entrance Fishermen’s Cooperative, of course, right slap bang in the middle of the electorate of Gippsland. The scallopers reckon they were hard done by when the Coalition Government dealt with their plea for financial assistance before the general election when they were not in the marginal category. Now that Labor reckons it has a sporting chance with the early retirement of National Peter McGauran, the new Government is happy to hold out the promise that the decision might be reversed. It has not actually promised the money mind you; just a special audit to take place before a previously announced national audit of fisheries buybacks by the Australian National Audit Office, which is not expected to report until 2009. Just encourage those who suffered when the Bass Strait Central Zone scallop fishery was closed to fishing in 2006 for a minimum period of three years that there is a better chance of an audit result favourable to them if there is a new Labor member before the report is finalised. A beautiful game this politics.

And an election too. I had forgotten that Canberra had an election coming on in October until reminded by a television advertisement at the weekend. Not one of those crass party political advertisements but one of those inspirational Government service advertisements explaining how wonderful the ACT education system had become. The kind of advertisements designed to create a climate which encourages people to reward the good people who run the education system without the Labor Party having to pay the television station bill. And it’s what we call democracy!

A catwalk for n-ked children.

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Hot Bitsy, this summer is becoming a catwalk for n-ked children. The sun is stroking our beautiful women in their birthday suits more beautifully than ever before. Melanie from Leipzig, too, just can’t keep her clothes on in this heat. Do your clothes slip off in this desert heat, too? BILD is seeking the hottest summer girl. Send us your beat the heat photos.

The caption accompanying a page one picture of a n-ked 13-year-old girl in Germany’s largest-circulation newspaper, the tabloid Bild, gives the flavour of why Australia is not the only country currently having a debate about the showing of pictures of children without clothes on. Der Spiegel has just outed Bild over its publication back in 2003 of the t-pless photo of “Melanie from Leipzig” in what the ness magazine has labelled “Tabloid Turmoil.”

Scrap the guardians. From memory it was Glaucon who said “Yes, it would be absurd that a guardian should need a guard” when his mate Socrates argued that as drunkenness was most unbefitting for guardians they should therefore stay off the drink. Alas such optimism appears misplaced again as the secret New South Wales Crime Commission reels from the shock of having its senior investigator arrested after an investigation. I’ll go for the pessimistic Juvenal version even though the old Roman was talking about women: “I hear all this time the advice of my old friends – keep your women at home, and put them under lock and key. Yes, but who will watch the warders? Wives are crafty and will begin with them. High or low their passions are all the same.” There just seems little point in having layer upon layer of anti-corruption bodies all watching the one beneath. When the ones on top are crook corruption still happens and the rights of many ordinary and innocent citizens have been trampled on along the way.

No joy for Jacob. The Australian “economy could be heading towards its first quarterly contraction since 2000” wrote Jacob Saulwick in The Sydney Morning Herald on 30 May. Alas the release of the national accounts this morning shows it was not to be withy growth recorded of 0.6 per cent. Which gives these economists the SMH quoted a cross as well: Helen Kelans, of JP Morgan predicted “stalling of investments means economic growth could be negative for the first quarter of this year, the first time growth had been in the red since the last three months of 2000”; Paul Brennan, of Citigroup went for 0.1 per cent for the quarter with Stephen Roberts of Lehmann Bros going for 0.2 per cent.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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