Paying for a plug. Former President Bill Clinton really might have a high regard for our Prime Minister but somehow the glowing endorsement would have meant more if it had not been for the disclosure earlier this year that the Australian government is a donor to the Clinton Foundation, which put on the conference where the plug was given.

Immigration minister as God. If we still had a system of ministerial responsibility I would not care that the Immigration Minister is delegating to departmental officials difficult decisions about refugees. The real problem is not the inconsistency of public servants as refugee advocates are reported as saying this morning.

There is absolutely no reason to expect them to be that to any greater or lesser degree than the minister. The criticism should be that the very anonymity of the process of using public servants is that no one is publicly accountable now that ministers no longer take the blame for the failings of their underlings

Adding up the travel days. Rest assured that it will not be long after Kevin Rudd returns from his latest world tour before the Opposition mounts another one of its attacks on him for being such a peripatetic fellow. The assumption is that there are votes in portraying the PM as spends his time swanning round the world on a private jet while staying in luxury accommodation. Call it an appeal to the politics of envy.

And true it no doubt is that people meeting in those little market research focus groups grumble a bit about the injustice of life when they can’t get out of the western suburbs while Kevin Rudd is shaking hands with the rich and powerful overseas. But there is another side to this politics of world travel or our much-travelled Prime Minister would not have the phenomenally high approval rating that he has. Australians want their country to be respected by others and a leader who looks comfortable meeting the Queen, a Pope or a US President is a symbol of that.

Sure there will be the odd joke and snide remark but pride wins out whether it is a George W.Bush praising his friend, John Howard, or Bill Clinton declaring how clever is Kevin.

Not a good look. Dr Farmer thinks that Malcolm Turnbull is still looking quite crook — or at least old and very tired. He is hardly thriving on the pressure and why he jetted off to London to give a speech during this short parliamentary recess is beyond me.

A day or two on a northern beach pretending to be developing some major policy initiative would have done him more good. Have a look at a replay of his performance last night on Lateline and judge for yourself.

There is something essentially negative about everything the man now says and grumpy old men are rarely popular as Dr Farmer well knows.

A nice little political toy. It’s safe to say that I’m not too worried about which parties end up in the Coalition government to be formed in Germany. I’ve just taken an intriguing little test called Election-O-Matic on the Der Spiegel website, which compares my views on an extensive range of policy options with those of the competing parties.

The end result is that it seems I have slightly more in common with the Free Democratic Party (currently third in the opinion polls) than the other majors but the CDU/CSU, led by chancellor Angela Merkel, and the SPD are locked together in my fancy not far behind followed by the Greens and Die Linke.

Taking the test was quite a bit of fun and an interesting way of learning a little about who stands for what in German politics. Perhaps our Crikey blogger Possum Comitatus might devise an Australian version for our next federal election. It would fit in well with those tests he already has on his site, which seek to classify people’s political leanings in a more sophisticated fashion than as simply left or right wing. To help you better understand my prejudices here’s how I scored on the Possum tests and you will find an explanation of what it’s all about on his site.

The Crikey German Indicator. Apparently the game for my newly chosen lot of pro-business liberals, the FDU, is to get enough seats to join Merkel as her Coalition partner and the Crikey Election Indicator suggests that is the most likely outcome at just over 50%. The Indicator on who will become chancellor has Merkel well out in front as a 95% chance.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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