Who’s this Gough bloke? Politicians tend to have long memories, but they make a mistake when they think everyone else does too. So it is that Malcolm Turnbull and company are wasting their energy trying to conjure up the bad old days of the long gone Whitlam Government as a way of attacking the big spending plans of the Rudd one. I doubt that anyone younger than 14 or 15 when Gough Whitlam became Prime Minister in 1972 would have any real memory or who he was or what he did. Thus attacking Kevin Rudd for having Whitlamesque plans with policies like his economic stimulus package and a national broadband roll out will just pass over the heads of 9 million or so current voters. And of the 44% of voters old enough to perhaps remember what the Opposition Leader is alluding to, there will be a significant minority for whom time has blurred the memories of economic mismanagement. The number of people currently supporting Labor who might actually react by changing their vote out of fear of a Whitlam revival would be very small indeed.

Separating retail and investment banking. If Australian bankers are wondering what penalty could be applied to them by a government angered at their refusal to pass on cuts in official interest rates they should study the speech yesterday by the British Conservative Party’s shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer. George Osborne hinted yesterday that a Conservative Government would break up Britain’s nationalised banks and would also consider whether to block other lenders from becoming too big. In a speech at the Royal Society of Arts, Mr Osborne said: “We need to think deeply about whether we can sustain banks that are not only too big to fail, but potentially too big to bail.” He added: “We should look at whether Britain in fact needs smaller banks. For it would be a bitter irony if we came out of this crisis with a banking system that was even more concentrated and even riskier than the one we had before it.” The London Times also reports this morning that the Bank of England is examining whether Britain’s biggest banks should formally separate their investment banking and retail banking operations.

The young start copping it. The graphs are not pretty pictures: employment falling and unemployment rising.

This morning’s ABS statistics suggest there will be a need for more economic stimulus if we are not to end up with double digit unemployment figures. Already things are looking grim for school leavers. The March figure for the unemployment rate among 15 to 19 year olds looking for full time work is now up to 24.8%
Don’t bet on it. There’s no harm in trying I suppose but the AFL is trying to back a long shot winner in getting the Federal Parliament to remove the current ban on betting over the internet while a sporting event is in progress. The argument of the football administrators is that their clubs are missing out on considerable revenue and that there is no logical reason why something that is legal to do by voice over a phone is illegal when the bet is sent via an internet connection.

The Melbourne Herald Sun reports this morning that in a submission to a federal government inquiry the AFL argues that in-play betting is extremely popular worldwide as a form of gambling, and if consumers are not able to access it online in Australia, they might elsewhere with overseas operators. “It seems inconsistent that a consumer can bet ‘in-play’ via telephone but not online.” the submission says. “Specifically, the AFL would like to suggest amendments to the Interactive Gambling Act 2001, such that betting online during sports events, or after an event has commenced, is no longer prohibited.”

The obstacle the AFL and their bookmaker and betting exchange supporters have to get over is that back in 2001 the Liberal and National parties actually wanted all betting via the internet to be banned and came within one vote in the Senate of achieving it. With the South Australian independent Nick Xenophon a staunch anti-gambling crusader and the Family First’s Senator Steve Fielding hardly a supporter of the practice, the numbers are just not there even if Labor could be persuaded to try.

Note — at the time of the 2001 legislation Richard Farmer was chairman of an ASX listed internet gambling company.