Presenting the government wish list. At the risk of being too repetitious, let me point out again that the Labor Government is not really in a position to govern. Tomorrow night Treasurer Wayne Swan simply will outline plans for action. The decisions as to what ends up in this year’s Federal Budget were not made in the secrecy of the Labor Cabinet room. Cabinet just makes the recommendations that the Treasurer announces. The decisions will be made in the coming weeks within the offices of non-Labor Senators.

The prospect of Labor getting what it wants through this process are not encouraging. The Liberal and National parties are not interpreting their current poor standing in the opinion polls as a reason to abandon their predilection to oppose most things the Government proposes. Rather they are taking the view that the verdict by the public is best combated by doing more of what the public does not fancy; instead of opposing less the decision appears to have been made to oppose more.

Hence on a range of the policies that Wayne Swan announces it will be up to the Greens, Family First and the Anti Pokies man to make the decision. They are now the people with the make or break power and Labor needs the support of all of them which will be ho easy feat when it comes to changing private health insurance and welfare payments.

Call in the astrologers. When you publish a newspaper during an election campaign in a country where public opinion polls are banned, yet astrology is a practice taken seriously, it is no wonder that the very proper and respectable Times of India has taken to consulting astrologers about what will happen when votes are counted on 18 May. This morning the paper informed its readers with a story beginning on page one that a rare change of position by Jupiter, which stargazers say happens once in 30 years, is likely to have a mixed astrological effect on the country.

With Jupiter changing its position and entering a new zodiac sign — from Capricorn to Aquarius — astrologers predict good times for Indian economy, but also warn against political turbulence in the days ahead. If astrologers are to be believed, the new government formed after May 16, would not last for more than one-and-a-half years and there are strong indications for another general election in late 2010 or early 2011.

Usually, Jupiter moves from one zodiac to another after 13 months, but this time it changed places within five months and is likely to go back to its previous sign, Capricorn, after two months. ‘‘Jupiter is a very strong planet, but its effect is weak when it is in Capricorn. But it has good long term results when it is in Aquarius. But the planet will retrograde after two-and-a-half months and go back to Capricorn. This means, the government formed after May 16 will start facing trouble from August onwards. It will result in re-election,’’ says Mukesh Jain, a Delhi-based astrologer.

With no party getting a clear margin, some astrologers foresee a new front forming the government and say that Indians should get ready to see the rise of a ‘‘dark horse’’ as the prime ministerial candidate. ‘‘No party will be able to form a government. I see a third front form a government with either Congress or BJP’s support and a dark horse from the eastern part of India becoming the prime minister,’’ said Shri Ashok Vasudev, a jyotishacharya with Astromatic Publication.

I suppose it makes as much sense as Malcolm Mackerras.

Support for animal liberationists grows. The political influence of the animal liberation movement clearly is growing in Australia. It now appears that thoroughbred jumps racing is on the verge of being banned in those states where it remains and the use of whips on horses in all kind of races is to be severely curbed. Next, I expect, will be an effort to stop equestrian events being held over fences, for there is really no difference between a steeplechase around a race course and the jumping component of three day events at which Australian equestrians have been so successful at recent Olympic Games.

Peter Fray

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