The advantage of sitting on the back bench. In all the writing about leadership and that man I’ve promised not to mention, there is one simple point that should not be overlooked. When you are a backbencher, you can talk about whatever you want and the only practical difficulty is getting someone to listen. When you accept the honour of a spot on the front bench, you are tied down to limiting your comments to the specific portfolio area allocated to you by the party leader. So if he-who-shall-not-be-mentioned really does have leadership ambitions, sitting on the very backest-of-the-bench benches is just the place to show your colleagues that you have interests and abilities that go beyond matters economic.

Killing off the notion of a mandate. I don’t quite understand why there are those in the Liberal and National Parties who do not see the political good sense in allowing the Labor Government to have its way completely with industrial relations legislation. If the consequences of some of the planned changes really will be so serious for employment prospects, then let Labor prove you right. The 18 months from now until the next election should just be long enough for the truth to become known. By accepting that this Government does have a mandate to carry out its plans, a necessary pre-condition is established for a reversal of the policy when the public discontent the Opposition predicts sees Labor thrown out of office. Not to accept the idea of a mandate for what was the key issue in Kevin Rudd’s victory will forever kill off that whole notion.

Queensland election indicator. Another opinion poll showing a close result is likely in the Queensland election with Newspoll this morning putting the Liberal National Party on 51% of the two party preferred vote to Labor’s 49%. Those figures would probably see Labor returned given the way the current distribution works and the market certainly thinks that is the case. The Crikey Election Indicator shows a minor improvement in Labor’s probability of victory to 70%.

Words are cheap. With a great deal of fanfare back in January the Federal Sports Minister announced that six of Australia’s largest sporting organisations had signed up to a National Alcohol Code of Conduct to help tackle binge drinking.

The Sydney based National Rugby League was one of those proud participants which committed that its clubs should see that official and players “consume alcohol in a safe and responsible manner and promote responsible drinking.” This page one of the Sydney Daily Telegraph illustrates that a fine set of words is one thing and actually changing behaviour are two different things.

Bring back the plank. The German navy has an interesting problem. Its navy frigate Rheinland-Pfalz recently captured nine Somali pirates who had tried to hijack the German-owned freighter Courier. Quite a triumph really but the admirals back in Berlin has not got around to deciding what to do with pirates under such circumstances. The one thing they did know was that they did not want such rascals back in Germany. For several days the Somali nine have been sitting in a white tent on the ship’s deck while the diplomatic corps springs in to action to find a solution. Now it appears that Kenya will come to the rescue after that country signed an extradition treaty with the European Union.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey