Get out the white board. I have suggested before in Crikey that British Prime Minister Gordon Brown could learn a thing or two from Australia’s Paul Keating (Crikey 6 August, item 13, “Richard Farmer’s political bite-sized meaty chunks” — Can Gordon Brown be a Paul Keating?) and now I think there is something else he should copy. Mr Brown, it is reported in today’s London Daily Telegraph, is struggling with increasing problems due to his partial sight. Close friends have revealed, the paper reports, that he can only see extremely large print.

Now Paul Keating did not suffer from blindness but he did often find reading irritating because of an eye complaint. His solution was to get Treasury officials to brief him in his office using a white board rather than forcing himself through the painful task of reading the small type used in departmental minutes. Gordon Brown perhaps should employ the same technique.

A win for the little fellows. When you operate under the protection of an explicit government guarantee you don’t have to be worried about those dreaded rating agencies. The only credit rating that counts is that of the government itself. Hence the big winners from the weekend decision by the Rudd Labor Government to guarantee deposits in all Australian Authorised Deposit-taking Institutions are the likes of Cairns Penny Savings and Loans, Collie Miners Credit Union Ltd and the Maitland Mutual Building Society Limited.

Never before has the money of a depositor in such minor organisations been as safe storing the cash in the Commonwealth Bank.

There are a whole host of these new beneficiaries from this crisis driven government decision. The Australian Prudential Regulatory Authority lists 12 building societies and 129 credit unions as being under its supervision. Before the weekend their cost of funds was markedly higher than that of the minor regional banks, let alone the major ones, because of their poorer credit ratings.

A departing chief of staff. Governments everywhere are in a state of panic and that of Australia is no exception. It is hardly an appropriate time for a change in the advisory team. Which makes me very curious about the decision of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s chief of staff David Epstein to announce his departure.

In the US the incumbent party is suffering. Well now we know why the Republicans are doing so badly. The New York Post has proclaimed the presidential election race is over and the reason Barack Obama has won is that John McCain was not right wing enough.

But doing okay in Canada. No such problem for the incumbent Conservative Government in Canada. As campaigning entered its final two days the pollsters had it leading the Liberals clearly.

Peter Fray

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