Merger easier said than done. Combining Liberal and National parties might seem to some to be a good idea but there is considerable resentment in the Queensland Liberal ranks at what they see as a National Party takeover that will destroy completely any small “l” liberal tradition. Talks are continuing today between officials of both parties centred around who will become president of a merged body. The Liberals are insisting that it must be one of theirs who gets the nod.

Backing Iemma bad politics. Kevin Rudd risks losing some of his good standing within the Labor Party through his continuing support for New South Wales Premier Morris Iemma. Whether the Premier is finally sacked by his Party (as seems increasingly likely) or not, the controllers of the NSW Branch will remember that the Prime Minister worked against them in encouraging Iemma to flout party rules. And, as the current campaign played out in the Sydney papers every day shows, those controllers can be a ruthless bunch. The day will come when they exact some retribution.

Not our fault. There is one good thing for the Labor Government out of decisions like that this morning by the Commonwealth Bank to increase its home lending rates by 0.14 per cent because of “increased funding costs”: it reduces the likelihood that the Reserve Bank will have to put up official interest rates. When the banks act independently not all of the anger is immediately directed at the Government as it is when the Reserve does the dirty deed.

Niue seeks Australian help to go smoke free. Niue, the world’s smallest self governing country at just 260 square kilometres, is trying to go tobacco free and wants the Australian Government to stop companies sending in cigarettes. Legislation to make the world’s first smoking free state is now before the tiny Pacific island’s parliament. Sitaleki Finau, Niue’s director of health, is backing the bill but expects stiff opposition from the tobacco industry and other commercial interests. There are an estimated 250 smokers among its 1400 residents.

Tugging the heart strings. Relations between The West Australian and the State Labor Government are unlikely to improve any after this morning’s report by the paper of an 80-year-old blind World War II veteran was forced to wait about 17 hours at a Perth hospital emergency department before receiving further treatment for a serious bone marrow disorder. Stories like this, which also appeared yesterday on the new Fairfax WA Today internet site are just what a government does not want as it contemplates going to an election. 

Crikey’s new Daily Media Wrap gives you Richard Farmer’s “Pick of this Morning’s Political Coverage”, “The most read stories on Australian websites” and analysis on “Politics and economics on the international newspaper sites” first thing every weekday morning. This is ONLY available on the Crikey website, you won’t see it in the Crikey email!

So if you’re drowning in a sea of morning papers and too tired to trudge the web in search of the juiciest of the commentariat then Crikey is here to help with a daily serving of the best in Australian and International media.