Very pleased with themselves. Read the last annual report of Air Services Australia and you would think that everything was rosy when it comes to the nation’s system of air traffic control. The team at this government owned corporation congratulate themselves on a wonderful profit performance and there is not a mention of the impending shortage of air traffic controllers that last night had airlines diverting aircraft because there was no air traffic control in a section of airspace north-west of Canberra. What the last annual report had to say about staffing was that a restructure which “focussed on the delivery of core business” had “resulted in a more streamlined approach to human resources management.” The severe shortage of air traffic controllers is just the latest example of the disastrous change of the regulation and administration of flying from a government department to so-called businesses.

Smoking horror movies. The next step in anti-smoking campaigns looks like only allowing adults in to movies in which anyone lights up a cigarette. The British Medical Association has recommended the change because more than one in five adults smokes and most start before they are 18 when they are most vulnerable to images that “increase the allure of the habit”. The BMA says films showing smoking in a positive light should also be preceded by an anti-smoking advert.

Squibbing a by election. The talk continues that Labor will squib putting up a candidate for the seat of retiring Liberal Alexander Downer because Mayo is so safely Liberal that Prime Minister Kevin Rudd could only be embarrassed by the result. The clever move would surely be to join in the contest because should there be a swing against the Government that would mean it is much more likely that Brendan Nelson would continue as Liberal Party leader. Surely that is in the long term interest of the Prime Minister!

Wishing he could squib a by election. The British Prime Minister George Brown must be wishing that he could avoid the contest in Glasgow East on 24 July but it has always been such a safe Labour seat there was no option but to take part. The prediction is for a cliff hanger of a result between Labour and the Scottish National Party. The Crikey election indicator rates Labor as a 51.4% chance, the SNP at 47.9% and any other candidate at 0.7%.

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