Ponting a victim of lack of political plotting. There is nothing newspapers like better than a leadership coup but those rotten politicians have not been very obliging in recent weeks with scarcely an excuse for journalists to get the rumour mill going. Hence, no doubt, the attention being paid to Ricky Ponting and his future as captain of the Australian cricket team. In the absence of a Prime Minister, Premier or even a Leader of the Opposition for the media to get its teeth into, the Punter will have to do. But maybe, just maybe, relief for Ponting is at hand — at least in the city which the expatriate Tasmanian has made his home.

This morning the Daily Telegraph has taken the egg beater to the future prospects of newly appointed Premier Nathan Rees with political writer Simon Benson raising the prospect of him having only a short life expectancy. “ALP plotters stir the pot already over Rees’ leadership” said the headline under which Simon Benson wrote that NSW Labor Party bosses have been secretly canvassing backbenchers to gauge waning support for Nathan Rees in the party room, just two months after he was installed as Premier.

The idea that the NSW Labor Party would actually consider instating a new Premier before the next election is so preposterous that perhaps it is true. No stranger than the suggestion from the cricket writers that Australia needs a new captain because Ricky Ponting dared to try and play the game within the spirit of the rules and bowl the correct number of overs in a day.

Economists support the telling of lies. It is interesting to note the ease with which the financial community condones the telling of lies. In the minds of many of these economists and analysts it seems to be the view that the public is not clever enough to be trusted with knowing what is really going on.

That keeping the truth to the inner circle which understands these things is the preferable course is clear in two commentaries this week appearing in the Sydney Morning Herald. Yesterday that normally sound and seemingly very moral man Ross Gittins had this to say about economic forecasts by the Treasury:

There’s more guesswork in economic forecasting than economists like to admit, but that must be doubly true at a time when such unprecedented (and scary) upheavals are occurring in the global economy. The econocrats always err on the optimistic side at this point in the cycle (the point where we ask whether the landing will be soft or hard) and I’m not one to criticise them for that. You’ve got to cut them some slack.

Because they get taken so seriously, the predictions of treasurers and central bank governors have the potential to be self-fulfilling – particularly negative predictions at a time when confidence is lacking — so it’s not in the economy’s interest to have officials spreading pessimism.

The emphasis declaring that telling pessimistic truths should not be disclosed is mine.

And then today it was Ian Verrender’s turn. “Treasurer puts the right” they called his daily financial commentary that outlined the dire circumstances confronting the Australian economy in the coming months as things got tough for China. But don’t frighten the populace:

For the moment, though, Swan is keen to keep the mood buoyant and to play up the positives. He knows expectations become self-fulfilling. And the last thing Australia needs now is for fear to take hold.

I suppose we should all the grateful that the mob don’t venture into the second half of Granny. If people actually read Ian Verrender and took any notice of his views then what Wayne Swan does or does not say would be irrelevant!

And News Limited is not keen on the truth either! Phil Gardner has been appointed editor-in-chief of the Herald & Weekly Times newspaper group in Melbourne, they told us on the media section of The Australian website this morning. Those who wondered what this meant for the future of Bruce Guthrie had to wait until the eighth par to learn that he “will leave the company at the end of this month”.

No explanation other than a somewhat grudging comment from News Limited chairman and chief executive John Hartigan that Guthrie had overseen strong gains in the newspaper’s Monday-to-Saturday readership.

At least in his old paper the sacked editor was given the additional praise of having guided the Herald Sun to the PANPA Newspaper of the Year award. Now that’s a golden hand shake for you! 

Peter Fray

Get your first 12 weeks of Crikey for $12.

Without subscribers, Crikey can’t do what it does. Fortunately, our support base is growing.

Every day, Crikey aims to bring new and challenging insights into politics, business, national affairs, media and society. We lift up the rocks that other news media largely ignore. Without your support, more of those rocks – and the secrets beneath them — will remain lodged in the dirt.

Join today and get your first 12 weeks of Crikey for just $12.

 

Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

JOIN NOW