Political marriage breakdown. One thing we know about Australian politics is that divided teams don’t win, yet relations between Liberals and Nationals are on the verge of completely breaking down. Differences over climate-change policies between the Coalition partners are being highlighted today but the troubles are more fundamental than that. Basically, most Nats think they are in danger of losing their seat if they stick with a senior partner led by a city slicker merchant banker. This is like Joh for Canberra in 1987 all over again, except back then the Coalition would have won had it stuck together. This time there is only a slight chance of victory whatever happens, with Liberals destined to be the big losers.

Third-party endorsement. In politics they love those third-party endorsements. See it isn’t just us saying how good we are but them — those independent fellows. You mightn’t believe your own politician but those foreigners tell the truth. And third-party endorsements don’t come any better than that just delivered by the OECD. Headlines such as these this morning completely take the wind out of the Opposition attack on the Government’s economic stimulus package:

Clearly it is time for the Coalition to move on to some other subject for its attacks on the government.

Try ramping for a change. Perhaps today would be a good time to make the switch to concentrating during question time on hospitals as I suggested earlier this week. On most days there is a perfect demonstration of how the public system is not coping adequately and today is no exception. Over in Perth the St John Ambulance has reported that ambulances spent almost 2000 hours ramped outside Perth’s public hospitals over winter because emergency departments were too busy to deal with the extra patients. The West Australian reported that ramping is the term for when ambulances are queued outside emergency departments over and above the usual turnaround time to transfer patients. Instead of going on to the next call-out, ambulance officers are forced to continue caring for patients until they can hand them over to hospital staff.

A perfect combination? They know what to do up north on a slow news day. Go for the tried and true. It could well be the motto of the NT News. If you can’t find a crocodile picture, then a shark will do. And better still give the punters the pair and for overseas news toss in that old standby of Google Earth discovering the Loch Ness monster. The perfect combination.

More people in the slammer. Australia’s prison population had a solid rise in the last year. During the June quarter of 2009, the average daily number of full-time prisoners was 28,409 persons — a six per cent increase on the June quarter figure in 2008. Thee Australian Bureau of Statistics reported this morning that the Australian Capital Territory had by far the lowest imprisonment rate and the Northern Territory the highest.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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