The naughty choir boy. If it wasn’t for the fact that his opinion poll ratings were already so high I would predict that Kevin Rudd’s standing with Australians would improve as the news seeps through to the mob that he is capable of using a swear word or two.

That our angelic looking leader is capable of being a toughie when necessary in dealing with factional party hacks will clearly be seen as a good thing by most people. Nobody wants a wimp in charge of the country and as long as the “f” word is kept for use behind closed doors very few these days will be offended. Mr Rudd should be sending message of thanks to News Limited columnist Glenn Milne for breaking the yarn on Sunday.

It came just a day after the Morgan Poll returned Labor’s two party preferred support to the 63 per cent level. To give an idea of just how high that figure is, consider that in the last five Federal elections the highest two party vote of the winning party was John Howard’s Coalition which had a landslide win with 53.6 per cent in 1996. A vote of 60% plus would result in an electoral slaughter of a kind not seen in Australia before.

The daily health attack. A change of tactics is clearly needed if the Coalition is to stop the rot and the best this old Labor election strategist can do is suggest that the Opposition try something completely different like urging Labor to be foolhardy enough to carry out the Rudd threat to take over the administration of the nation’s public hospitals because state governments are proving incapable of running them.

Today’s example of how the system goes from bad to worse is once again from New South Wales where it is reported in the Sydney Morning Herald that Unions say 1000 jobs are to go in a hospital purge under the NSW Health Department’s voluntary redundancy program. With waiting lists already long and quality of service suffering, nurses, therapists and other health workers are to be let go.

Despite severe workforce shortages, the department has been calling for massive redundancies to compensate for its $646.6 million budget blowout. Surely it is time to tell the Prime Minister to really stop playing his blame game by ending the pretence that State Governments can fix things.

Changes in Japan. It will be intriguing to see how the totally inexperienced new Government in Japan will adapt to its role but it certainly looks like things will be different. For one thing I note that changes are being made to the particularly Japanese system of making information available only to selected journalists who agree to play the reporting game in accordance with rules devised by public servants. From now on that closed shop approach will end — at least at the Foreign Minister — where press briefings will in future be open to all media outlets.

The Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada said on Friday that in princi0ple (the briefings) will be open to all media organisations, paving the way for non-members of Japan’s press club system to cover ministry interviews. The Mainichi news reported that members of the Japan Newspaper Publishers and Editors Association (NSK), the National Association of Commercial Broadcasters in Japan (NAB), the Japan Magazine Publishers Association (JMPA), the Internet News Association of Japan, and the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan (FCCJ) are among those subject to the open-door policy.

In addition, holders of the Foreign Press Registration Card, as well as freelance journalists who regularly contribute stories to organization members will also be allowed access to the ministry briefings, according to Okada.

Quote of the day: From the Sydney Morning Herald columnist Paul Sheehan visiting Lord Howe Island in the Pacific where he finds an environmental zealot he describes thus:

His attitude was a metaphor for the dark side of the environmental movement, the uncompromising, didactic, self-important side. Religious zeal may be on the wane in our society, but the impulse towards crusading, evangelistic certainty is not.

This is why the Greens have failed to break out of their 9 per cent political rump. The party should be in a much more powerful position, with the benefit of the great gale of environmental concern billowing in its spinnaker. Instead, it constantly sails into the politically less rewarding and less pragmatic territory of anti-capitalism, anti-Americanism, drug politics, sexual politics, identity politics, refugee politics and a doctrinaire brand of sanctimonious environmentalism that irritates more than educates.