The report follows a report and the minister promises consultations . In the end in government you have to pay your money and take your chances, but the tendency in this Labor Government is to postpone the day of reckoning as long as possible. The latest example is the questioning by the Immigration and Citizenship Minister Chris Evans of the appropriate use of ministerial intervention powers to make decisions in individual cases. Senator Evans was clearly staggered when he took over the portfolio to find just how many files ended up on his desk for him to decide under the Migration Act whether to grant, refuse or cancel visas. Instead of reading the 2004 Senate Select Committee Report on Ministerial Discretion in Migration Matters and then making a decision on whether changes were needed, the new Minister commissioned a new inquiry.

Businesswoman Elizabeth Proust, previously the secretary of the Victorian Department of Premier and Cabinet under the Kennett government, and chief executive of the City of Melbourne, was given the task and her findings were released this week. Reading this Proust report makes it clear why Senator Evans wanted an opinion other than that of the Senate Committee. The Senators wanted the discretionary powers of the Minister retained “as the ultimate safety net in the migration system”.

Ms Proust has provided him with reasons for the law to be changed to delegate almost all discretions now exercised by the Minister to his Department or Tribunals leaving the Minister to deal, in Senator Evans’ words, “with issues of broad public policy.” Presumably the consultations he is now having with “relevant stakeholders” are attempts to see if he can cobble together the numbers in the Senate to get the changes he wants passed.

A courageous choice by the National Gallery . Ron Radford, the director of the National Gallery of Australia, is clearly not a man to be intimidated by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd. While the Prime Minister recently was denouncing some of the photographic works of Bill Henson, Mr Radford was organising for the depicter of youthful nudity to open an exhibition in Canberra.

The event will take place this evening and while the press has been advertised that Mr Henson will not be available for interviews, perhaps the artist will use his speech to the assembled patrons of the arts to give his views on this work which is featured in the exhibition:

Helping the Indians reduce their emissions. As he sat chatting with India’s Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at Hokkaido in Japan yesterday, Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd no doubt received an update on the political battle the Indian Government is having at home over the issue of nuclear energy. The left wing parties in the governing coalition Mr Singh heads are quitting in protest over his continuing efforts to conclude arrangements with the United States that will allow India to use the latest technology to develop a nuclear power industry.

India has just submitted a draft safeguards pact covering civilian nuclear facilities to the International Atomic Energy Agency for approval and when that is given, provided the government does not fall, Mr Rudd’s team will have a difficult decision to make. If India is to make a worthwhile contribution to lowering greenhouse gas emissions while continuing with its rapid economic growth, nuclear power generation will be essential. That will mean the import of substantial quantities of uranium with Australia being the logical source of it. Labor Party policy limits sales of uranium to full signatories of the IAEA which India will not be because its weapon plants will not be covered by the planned agreement. A lovely dilemma will present itself. Risk the planet by greenhouse gases or by the potential expansion of nuclear weapons.

When the gloss wears off: You can tell when a politician has reached a turning point in popularity from the cruelty which the cartoonists exhibit. Nicholson’s pocket contribution in The Australian this morning was definitely one of those that make you wince. Our Kevin was pointing his finger into a Chinese chest and saying “You don’t intend to BURN all that coal you bought from us do you?” And no sooner had I looked at that reminder of the hypocrisy of being the world’s greatest provider of the key ingredient for making CO2 emissions, than I received an offering from one of those jokesters who are always right behind the cartoonist in spotting a politician’s developing weaknesses.

While stitching up the hand of a 75 year old Queensland farmer, who got cut on a gate while working cattle, the rural doctor struck up a conversation with the old man. Eventually the topic got around to Kevin Rudd and his appointment to Prime Minister of Australia.

“Well, ya know,” drawled the old farmer, “this Rudd fella is what they call a fencepost turtle.”

Not being familiar with the term, the doctor asked him what a fencepost turtle was.

The old farmer said, “when you’re driving along a country road and you come across a fence post with a turtle balanced on top, that’s called a fencepost turtle.”

The old farmer saw a puzzled look on the doctor’s face, so he continued to explain, “You know he didn’t get up there by himself, he definitely doesn’t belong up there, he doesn’t know what to do while he is up there, and you just gotta wonder what kind of dill put him up there in the first place!”

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