Shifting the blame — it wasn’t my idea. We can be sure that things are getting tense within a political party when pollies start saying “don’t blame me — it was all his idea.” Which is what is happening now to the Liberals as they leave Canberra behind for the winter break. The Tasmanian Senator Eric Abetz (or perhaps someone kindly acting on his behalf) has very pointedly spread the line that Malcolm Turnbull was personally responsible for the tactical decision to try and finger Kevin Rudd as improperly helping his Ipswich car dealer mate. In the Melbourne Herald Sun this morning is a story that the Opposition Leader, hell bent on bringing down the Prime Minister, ignored Senator Abetz’s advice not to do so on the basis of the ute gate email.

Senator Abetz loyally went along with his leader’s instruction to bring details of the email out during the Senate evidence of Godwin Grech and, according to anonymous Liberal MPs quoted in the Sun Herald, Senator Abetz was now being unfairly blamed for the email debacle.

What’s this ute business? It is always something of a reality check for those of us of grand fatherly age to catch up with the younger generation. Thus it was at dinner last night that I was asked by an intelligent 26 year old mother of two “What’s all this ute business about?” There was I well and truly uted after a week of reading and hearing about it and the notion that something was going on in politics was just reaching an ordinary voter.

A policy to follow. Those industry super fund advertisements of the people the same age paying the same amount ending up with vastly different payouts have clearly registered with me, but the practice of so-called financial planners charging their outrageous commissions continues. Clearly not everyone has yet got the message of the cumulative impact of that percentage being skimmed off every year for ever.

In Australia there has been much discussion about ensuring that the commissions paid on financial products is properly disclosed to those being advised but I notice that the British Financial Services Authority (FSA) has outlined a far more radical shake-up of the investment, pension and life assurance industries by spelling out plans to ban independent financial advisers (IFAs) taking commission for selling savings plans full stop.

Under the proposals, to come into effect at the end of 2012, advisers will have to charge customers a fee rather than receiving commission from the savings and pensions companies they recommend. The London Daily Telegraph reports consumers will be told how much the advice is going to cost up front and be given the choice of paying it as a fee or having the cost deducted from their premiums.

The FSA is also moving to make clearer the different types of advice given by financial planners. Advisers will have to describe themselves as either offering “independent advice” or “restricted advice” — where recommendations are based on a small range of products. Tied sales forces of banks and insurers, who cannot give independent advice, will be made to specifically disclose the size of their commission charges to improve disclosure. Advisers, whether independent or tied, will also be required to hold a qualification equivalent to passing the first year of university. An independent Professional Standards board will oversee the regime.

Headline of the day. “Monkey urinates on President” tells the story of a press conference by Zambia’s President Rupiah Banda.

And a close second. “Frankenstein food” — the Sydney Daily Telegraph ‘s description of products containing genetically modified material.

Consumer confidence revival. What? Me, panic? Not Australians. The politicians can talk all they like about that continuing international financial crisis but consumer confidence in this country just keeps getting better.