Don’t frighten the masses. There is one thing we can rely on government ministers not to tell us about the impact the world financial crisis is having on Australia and that is the truth. The fear of causing a stampede of people deciding that under the mattress is the safest place for their savings is just too great. And there is nothing unique about Australian politicians. Avoiding being frank about what is really happening to the financial system is common to those in government everywhere. The banking system relies on ordinary people trusting the system and the truth about how reckless lending has imperiled their wealth would lead to a panic that does nobody any good. If you wondered why Treasurer Wayne Swan has gone so mild with his comments on banks putting up their home loan interest rates then wonder no more. He is prepared to let us all pay the price for stupid lending practices of the past because he needs them to stay profitable to avoid the crisis spreading here. And don’t think that anyone in the Opposition will start engaging in truth telling. The Liberals and Nationals were so scared last year when in office that they even deferred announcing changes that guarantee that in the event of something going wrong people would quickly be given access to the first $20,000 of their savings in a collapsed financial institution.

Move over GG. It is little wonder that the current Governor-General, His Excellency Major General Michael Jeffery AC CVO MC, is one of the least known vice regal figures Australia has ever had. The Prime Ministers he has supposedly sat above continually have elbowed him out of the limelight. I thought it rather sad to read the Vice Regal notes for the weekend: “On Sunday 13 July 2008, at RAAF Base Richmond, NSW, the Governor-General, His Excellency Major General Michael Jeffery AC CVO MC was represented at the arrival in Australia of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI, by Mr Brien Hallett, Deputy Official Secretary to the Governor-General.”

Governments doing it tough. A glance at how incumbent political parties are faring around the world suggests we should have treated John Howard a little more leniently over his defeat last November. In all the major democracies it seems that support for governments is well down.

Country Government Vote last Election Latest Opinion Poll Decline
NZ Labour 41.1 30.5 -10.6
UK Labour 35.3 25 -10.3
USA Republican 50.7 42.6 -8.1
Canada Conservatives 36.3 31.2 -5.1
Japan LDP 38.2 28.6 -9.6

The recent opinion polls results suggest that “it’s the economy stupid” really is the dominating factor in the thinking of voters everywhere. With the economic uncertainty in the United States getting more rather than less, Barack Obama must surely be a short priced favourite to win on Melbourne Cup Day. 

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