The Australian‘s strange news sense. There’s one aspect of this brouhaha about whether President George Bush did or didn’t ask Kevin Rudd what the G20 was that intrigues me. If the comment was made, and the chief political correspondent of The Australian Matthew Franklin clearly believes it was, why was it stuck away as the 23rd par in his story?

It is not every day that a journalist ends up knowing actual words used by the President of the United States in a private conversation with his Prime Minister. Normally details like that don’t even end up in the political memoirs of the participants years after the event. And it is surely even rarer to be given an example that makes the President out to be an ignorant buffoon.

The reaction of a normal journalist when given such a stick of political dynamite would be to light the fuse and splash it all over page one as a headline rather than hide it away in the body of the story where initially it would escape the attention it deserved. So what is it with this chief political correspondent? And if he missed the significance of what he had written what kind of subs do they have at the national daily?

An embarrassing G20 summit. That Kevin Rudd has someone close to him who would tell a journalist something untrue about a private conversation with a head of state will add a touch of tension to Australia’s appearance at the G20 summit to consider what should be done to reform the world financial system. Trust is an essential ingredient between leaders that is hard to earn but easy to lose.

Dealing with bankrupt countries. High up on the agenda for that G20 summit called by George Bush will have to be the development of plans to deal with bankrupt countries. The contagion that started as a financial crisis for some US mortgage providers has now spread to governments in many parts of the world. Iceland was an early casualty with Argentina, Pakistan and the Ukraine not far behind. Hungary, Poland and Serbia are shaping up as similar financial basket cases with speculation growing that the Czech Republic, Romania and Turkey, and perhaps even Russia, will soon find themselves under attack by the dreaded financial speculators.

The way things are shaping up, the International Monetary Fund will soon run out of the funds that it uses to help bankrupt nations. The IMF has already had to find $US34.3 billion for Iceland, Ukraine and Hungary and that is about a fifth of the funds it has available for such bailouts.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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