Always look on the bright side of life. The ANZ Bank seems to be engaged on a concerted effort to talk up Australian housing prices. Early this week the bank’s senior economist Paul Braddick was spruiking that the country faced a critical and potentially chronic shortage of housing. “A growing housing shortage is setting the scene for the mother of all housing booms,” is how he put it. “Demand has accelerated and rising immigration, both permanent and temporary, shows no sign of abating. Meanwhile, rising interest rates continue to stymie any building recovery. Underlying housing demand is already outstripping new supply, and the gap is set to widen sharply, driving pent-up housing demand to record levels.” Mr Braddick has now been joined in his optimistic assessment (well, optimistic if you own one) by one of his colleagues. In Perth yesterday another ANZ “senior economist”, one Mark Rodrigues, said the fall in Perth property prices might be near an end as faster population growth and the resources boom increased demand. Perhaps the Eric Idle song will soon start being used in the bank’s advertisements:

When you’re chewing on life’s gristle
Don’t grumble, give a whistle
And this’ll help things turn out for the best…
And… always look on the bright side of life…
Always look on the light side of life…

Something to be going on with. Just a little something to ponder while waiting for the verdict of Ross Garnaut on what is happening to global warming: Large amounts of ozone — around 50 percent more than predicted by the world’s state-of-the-art climate models — are being destroyed in the lower atmosphere over the tropical Atlantic Ocean. So reports NASA’s Earth Observatory based on the publication on 26 June in the journal Nature that “this startling discovery was made by a team of scientists from the UK’s National Centre for Atmospheric Science and Universities of York and Leeds.” It has particular significance, said the NASA report, because ozone in the lower atmosphere acts as a greenhouse gas and its destruction also leads to the removal of the third most abundant greenhouse gas; methane.

Discovering hoons. A timely reminder this morning that the political agenda is much influenced by very local things or, in this case, by local papers; the Victorian Liberal Leader Ted Baillieu has given us a variation on the law-and-order theme so beloved by all politicians. Mr Baillieu’s target is hoon drivers whose cars, he says, should be crushed or clamped to stop offenders treating penalties like a badge of honour. Wonderfully tough stuff but what was the inspiration for it? Well try these headlines for size: “Dandenong hoons have need for speed“; “We’re over the hoon in Whittlesea“; “Crackdown on Casey hoons“; “Welcome to hoon town“; and “Beach Rd speedway“. They are all from throwaway papers in and around Melbourne over the past week. Mr Baillieu was pandering to that part of the media that the political pundits rarely look at. The run he got in the Herald Sun this morning was simply a bonus but he will be pleased that his new issue even made it as the daily opinion poll.

Brendan should take heart. Australia’s Opposition Leader should take heart from the news that there is an English speaking political leader doing far worse in the opinion polls than he is. The UK’s Gordon Brown now leads the most unpopular Labour government in history, according to a new “poll of polls” for The Independent. Only 17 per cent of people now approve of the Brown government’s record, while 70 per cent disapprove. The only crumb of comfort for Mr Brown is that his government is not the most unpopular of all time. That record remains with the Conservative Prime Minister John Major who sank to 9 percent approving and 84 per cent disapproving before his eventual defeat.

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