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.