An interesting explanation to come. The Federal Health Minister Nicola Roxon will be thankful she was not the minister when the Therapeutic Drugs Administration shut down Pan Pharmaceuticals in April 2003. She will not have to squirm around the question of ministerial responsibility when she explains the circumstances which led to the announcement this morning of an extraordinary payment of $55 million to the major shareholder in Pan, Mr Jim Selim.

Ms Roxon will, however, have the task of restoring confidence in the TGA following the settlement. Something clearly went very wrong for the Government to throw in the towel in defending Mr Selim’s law suit. No wonder the man, who I recall being vilified at the time, sounded a little bitter when he said he was still waiting for a public apology from the TGA for its actions, which he said had come at great personal cost to himself.

One major weakness. There is one major weakness in the attempt by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to get Australian voters to blame the Coalition for defeating Labor legislation in the Senate: the Coalition will only be defeating bills when it judges that on balance it is popular to do so. Clearly Liberals and Nationals do not believe that the Petrol Watch scheme has stirred any positive emotions and that they can join with minor parties to stop it being introduced. Only in Western Australia, where Mr Rudd’s idea is pinched from, is there sufficient support for the WA Liberal Leader Colin Barnett to promise to keep the WA state version going if he becomes Premier after next month’s election.

Iguana fizzles. The delay by the NSW Director of Public Prosecutions in deciding whether to take action against anyone over the statements made by politicians and others over dinner at the Iguana night spot suggests to me that there is certainly no open and shut case. NSW State Education Minister John Della Bosca and his wife, Federal Labor MP Belinda Neal, both have their careers on hold while the DPP deliberates. The couple have been wisely silent over recent weeks but Ms Neal’s confidence about her political future has improved sufficiently for her to threaten to take The Australian to the Press Council for reporting that she “wears the pants” in her marriage to NSW Labor MP John Della Bosca.

Don’t mention the war. An extraordinary thing about the Sydney Morning Herald website this morning — on the home page there was not a mention of Georgia. The only reference to the war that has many people worried about world peace was a single line under the heading The World: Fragile peace as Russia calls the shots. At least half way down the The Age site they had Russian convoy drives fresh fears of war as the main headline in the World section

Which footy mad Victorians? Proof this morning that people are footy mad down in Victoria, but not quite the way you might expect. It will surprise few that the most read story on the Herald Sun website this morning was about football. What should raise some eyebrows at AFL headquarters is that it is that roundball game that people have been reading about. Fabiano pressure Thompson and Allsopp for striker position was what the readers wanted to know about and there was not an AFL story in sight.

Peter Fray

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