Announcing something big at 4pm on any Sunday afternoon will always catch some media outlets off guard and it was no different with yesterday’s bank guarantee extravaganza.

Robert Gottliebsen was first out of the blocks on Business Spectator at 5.15pm yesterday, declaring Rudd’s move an “excellent decision”.

I sent the following out — “Rudd’s shock and awe should be supported” — 20 minutes later and even Janet Albrechtsen backed Rudd on The Australian’s website last night in a piece that has attracted a flood of comments.

As usual, Janet failed to disclose her screaming conflict of interest but at least the moderator let this comment through:

C’mon Janet, where’s the disclosure that your husband was the former chief general counsel at CBA and now chairs Credit Suisse Australia, which was the exclusive advisor on CBA’s $2 billion BankWest acquisition last week. Apart from that omission, quite a reasonable column in these unprecedented times.

Albrechtsen’s contribution was in stark contrast to the nation’s highest paid business commentator, The Australian’s John Durie, who did manage to produce a quick website comment blasting the move as “dumb policy”. It was repeated in today’s paper. Durie is normally the best commentator in the country but his last two efforts have been disappointing, inconsistent and unrealistic. After an amazing week, Durie spent much of Saturday’s column blasting Malcolm Turnbull for supposedly irresponsibly calling for larger bank deposit guarantees.

This morning Durie’s far more politically aware colleague Lenore Taylor described the same action by Turnbull as “cleverly pre-empting the Government’s inevitable ramp-up of its bank deposit guarantees”, whilst Durie is now blasting the government. All that Turnbull and Rudd have done is calm depositors during an unprecedented global collapse in financial confidence. Sensible move, bipartisan support and big name commentators should be backing it.

Durie should take note of Alan Kohler’s column on Business Spectator this morning saying the government “acted correctly” and had “no choice”.

Fairfax put in a disappointing effort last night with no commentary on its websites, but at least the paper version of The Age was far stronger than the Herald Sun this morning which splashed on a story about a stripper and wasn’t even able to raise Terry McCrann.

With the PM appearing on 60 Minutes last night for a reassuring interview with Liam Bartlett, you would think McCrann could have dashed out a few hundred words for the biggest selling paper in the country.

The best piece we’ve seen yet was from Fairfax’s Michael West which appeared online at 6.51am this morning.

West applauded the guarantee because it will “circumvent the ultimate disaster scenario of a retail run on the banks” but also demanded the big banks now fully disclosure their complete exposures to the $60 trillion credit default swap market.

Indeed, with the government underwriting the entire system, there is no excuse for being coy about dud loans, investments or big withdrawals. Strangely, there has been no ASX announcement from any listed bank this morning. The ASX, ASIC and now the government, as bank underwriter, should be forcing greater disclosure.

Listen to Friday night’s discussion about the global chaos with 4BC’s Mike Smith.

Peter Fray

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