Newspapers the real opposition. For the last six months or so, the real opposition confronting the Bligh Labor Government has not been that strange creation the Liberal National Party, but the state’s Murdoch-owned newspapers. There has been a non-stop supply of snide little stories that really were not news at all with the campaign against recycled drinking water being the prime example.

As best as can be judged from the limited published opinion polls, the Courier Mail, The Australian, Townsville Bulletin and Cairns Post have not had much impact. Undermining the attempt to paint Queensland Labor as past its use by date is the comic nature of the lot who would take over as the government. Formalising the Liberal and National coalition into one political party has been shown by Barnaby Joyce to be nothing more than a joke that is not going to apply to him and his federal Nationals colleagues, while at a state level, it represents nothing more than a Nationals takeover. There are many small l Liberals around Brisbane who would prefer to vote Labor than have a return to National Party rule. We will know the answer on 21 March, but I fancy that the pollsters have it right.

Drought relief coming? There’s some hope for relief in the dry conditions that have plagued South Australia for years with the Bureau of Meteorology predicting that a large part of the state has a 60% chance of getting above average rainfall in the next three months. For northern Victoria and a large part of western NSW, the Bureau puts the odds of above average rainfall at 55%.

The forecast follows a period from November to January where above average rainfall fell in most parts of the country.

A Government hoping that the country can avoid slipping in to recession will be hoping that the good rainfall news continues as it will give a welcome boost to agricultural production.

Sounding like a preacher. The commentators were looking for reasons that the crowd at Melbourne’s national day of mourning for bushfire victims was less than organisers anticipated. There was a general reluctance to think that Australians had had enough of the wailing and gnashing of teeth that the newspapers kept going on with for so long. Our Prime Minister, incidentally, showed that all those Sundays in church have helped him pick up that typical Anglican preachers manner of speaking. Kevin Rudd would have a life in the pulpit if he ever chose to quit politics.

Labor should not worry about a lengthy inquiry. The signs are growing that there will be a detailed and lengthy examination by the Senate of the Government’s planned emissions trading Scheme. That is something which should not concern Kevin Rudd one bit. Having the introduction of the scheme delayed through no fault of his own Party would be the best possible result electorally. It would push any economic damage out beyond the next election but allow him to keep arguing that Labor is keenly committed to doing the right thing environmentally.

First home buyers helping . The anecdotal evidence continues that first home buyers are doing their bit to help the building industry. According to The Age this morning, there has been a jump in first-home sales at least for the handful of housing developers that dominate the market. Companies such as Stockland, Mirvac, Lend Lease and Australand have reported a jump in sales to first-home buyers in their otherwise disappointing half-year results.

Peter Fray

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