Rudd a reluctant bank critic. Kevin Rudd was getting a little bit ahead of himself on Friday when he started talking tough to the banks about passing on cuts in official interest rates. As yet the Reserve Bank has not dropped rates, but if Mr Rudd wants to make the case that bank profits are too high he was given plenty of evidence to do so yesterday. “Banks in grab to fatten profits” was the headline in The Australian above a story that a survey of the mortgage market by financial comparison site InfoChoice.com.au found the banks’ profit margins had increased by more than 30% on the past six months, rising from 1.35% in January to 1.80% in July. Strangely Mr Rudd has dropped off the bank bashing line. Whereas last week he was saying “These banks have a responsibility to act … Look at the overall profitability levels of our banks, they are huge”, yesterday there was silence. Perhaps someone has given him a briefing along the lines that a bank not making a profit is far more dangerous to the welfare of the people than one which is. The time for retribution against banks has not yet come.

Back to their best. The websites of the Fairfax broadloids were back to their best in this morning’s Crikey survey of the most read stories around the nation. Topping the list at The Age was More grisly details emerge in Canadian bus murder with the Sydney Morning Herald opting for Greece where there was Carnage in paradise as boyfriend beheads lover

The vanquished and the victor. Having struggled along with Maximilian S. Walsh and Robert Haupt for a couple of years doing those Sunday program interviews in the days before Laurie Oakes, I hope I will be forgiven for yet another observation on the program’s passing. There was only ever one part of the program that actually had an influence on political life and that was not because of that minority of Australians who sadly found themselves with nothing better to do on a Sunday morning than watch television. It was the coverage given on the television news that night, and in the papers and on radio the next morning, to what the featured politician had said that mattered. And even that was not an original Sunday contribution to Australian journalism.

Michael Schildberger and Alan Reid with their Nine Network talking heads program Federal File were the real trail blazers. Their success in generating interest and influence was what encouraged Kerry Packer to have a Sunday program that used more than one camera in the pokey Consolidated Press room in the Parliamentary Press Gallery. The death of Sunday probably was not just the cost of the posh hour and a half that surrounded the interview but the arrival of a competitor in the ABC’s Insiders which resurrected the cheaper Federal File format of an interview and some controversial talking heads. It was only when the monopoly on news making expired and the other networks did not have to give the Sunday night news plug to Nine that the cost became too high.

Peter Fray

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