A speechless Belinda at local speech night. A report has just reached me of an appearance by Belinda Neal MP at one of her local schools for a speech night presentation to students. Fresh from her escape from any prosecution over the incident at the Iguana night spot, John Della Bosca’s better half was apparently left speechless when she had her own words from that night quoted to her. Shaking hands with one of the lads getting an award she asked: “And what’s your name?” to receive the reply: “Don’t you know who I am?” The boy should have a big future in politics.

Learn a lesson from Queensland. The Federal Opposition should learn a lesson from what happened politically in Queensland yesterday. That silence is often the best tactic when a government is doing something unpopular was illustrated when Premier Anna Bligh pulled the plug on two controversial water projects. For months now, as readers of The Australian would be well aware for it has covered the issue in considerable depth, the Liberal National Party has delighted in playing on the fear people have of drinking recycled water. A new whiz-bang recycling system was going to be one part Labor’s answer to ensuring that the south east of the state was never threatened again with running out.

The other initiative promised was to build a new dam at Tavistock which was vigorously opposed by local residents who were aided and abetted in their nimbyism by the LNP. Premier Bligh has an election due early next year and with the recent heavy rains around Brisbane lifting water levels from their the dangerously low levels caused by drought, she yesterday took the opportunity to scuttle both projects. Two potential vote winners for the Opposition are now gone.

Some encouragement for Wayne. The economic pundits (yes – the very same ones who wrongly kept maintaining that Chinese growth would insulate Australia from any world recession) have all turned very sceptical about Treasurer Wayne Swan continuing to maintain that economic growth will continue at a level that should preserve at least a small budget surplus.

Well, maybe the gloom and doom brigade will be in error again for the construction figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics this morning show the benefit of the lags which occur between major projects started when companies are optimistic about the future and the onset of pessimism.

The statistician’s trend estimate for total construction work done rose 2.4% in the September quarter 2008 with the seasonally adjusted estimate for total construction work done losing 4.4%, to $34,241.6m, in the September quarter, following a revised fall of 0.4% in the June quarter. While house building is clearly in decline, other building work is still chugging ahead.

And things are not expected to exactly grind to a halt in China either. While the days of 10% plus growth might be gone, this major Australian market is expected to do better than the rest of the world. The China Daily this morning gave these predictions for the year or two ahead:

Ugly rumours about a hero’s death. Terrible news in the London Daily Telegraph overnight which the Sydney version missed. Under the headline Batman to be killed off after 70 years – there’s a story that Batman will suffer a gruesome end when his sidekick Robin goes over to “the dark side” and destroys him in a terrible betrayal. Comic books might never be the same again.

Peter Fray

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