If at first you don’t succeed, try another poll. Any poll at all will do for The Australian apparently when its own pollster fails to provide the answer required to suit the ideologically correct story line. Hence this morning’s page one headline:

This week, as we outlined in Crikey, Newspoll inconveniently found that the Federal Labor Government had increased its lead over the Opposition at a time when the Oz wanted a story showing that an unpopular budget had resulted in a decline in support. Not satisfied with yesterday’s misleading headline and some very selective reporting of the reputable Newspoll, this morning it has elevated to stardom the internet-based What the People Want poll that has no track record to speak of. What it does have though is a finding that agrees with the paper’s prejudices.

According to What the People Want, support for the Coalition in Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s home state of Queensland is now 10 percentage points higher than at the 2007 Federal election. On this basis the political correspondent Matthew Franklin has concocted a yarn that would do the paper’s political editor Dennis Shanahan proud. Franklin simply glosses over the national finding of his new favourite pollster that Labor leads the Coalition by 10 percentage points.

Envious of our pommy peers. Oh how we Canberra political journalists envy our British peers! They have a real honest to goodness scandal to cover about grasping politicians cheating on their expense allowances that has brought down the Speaker of the House of Commons. And we have to be satisfied with carping about whether members of parliament should be allowed to get a meagre pay rise. There is no justice but at least at the Sydney Daily Telegraph they tried this morning to redress the balance. Taxpayers, it exclaimed, are paying off federal politicians’ mortgages to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars a year with a growing number of politicians buying homes in Canberra to live in during parliamentary sitting weeks — but are still claiming travel allowances.

It was hardly news really. It was to avoid the very kind of scandal that has brought the Westminster Parliament in to such disrepute that our Federal Parliament long ago adopted a system of giving MPs a flat rate allowance for every day they spend in the national capital. They can use it to stay where they want. The only surprise to me is that only one in five politicians chooses to buy their own sleeping quarters in Canberra rather than rent or stay in a hotel.

A measure of the economic decline. Import figures out today from the Australian Bureau of Statistics give a clear measure of the extent of the country’s economic decline. Comparing imports for the three months to the end of April this year with the same period last year shows a decline of 1.6%. Midway through last year Australian imports were growing at an annual rate of well over 20%.

A good year to be in public employment. It is not only because you are more likely to keep your job than someone in private employment that the last year has been a good one to be in public employment. Official figures this morning from the ABS show that in the last year the Public sector wage price index rose by 1.1% compared to 0.9% for the Private sector, with the All sectors index recording a quarterly movement of 1.0%. The highest quarterly movement (1.1%) was recorded by Tasmania, the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory. Through the year changes ranged from 3.9% for New South Wales and South Australia to 5.4% for Western Australia. This is the eighth consecutive quarter in which the through the year change for Western Australia has been above 5.0%. Quarterly movements for the March quarter 2009 for the Public sector were greater than those of the Private sector in every state and territory with the exception of the Australian Capital Territory.

Headline of the day: “Lap dancers, cocaine did not cause credit crunch” — Bloomberg News