Rupert’s strange game. The old master manipulator of governments surely is losing his touch. At a time when Rupert Murdoch will need help from legislators if his plan to protect news content from the dreaded internet aggregators is to have any chance of success he has alienated the White House, which has accused the News Corp-owned Fox TV network of waging a “war against Barack Obama.”

A helpful Indonesia for how long? Prime Minister Kevin Rudd should be truly grateful to Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono for giving him a hand to postpone the looming political difficulty in Australia that increasing numbers of boat people are bound to create. There was absolutely no reason for the President to get his navy to intervene to stop the latest attempt at illegal immigration other than to be helpful to Rudd. Returning the boatload to Indonesia simply means that the President’s Indonesian Government has the cost and worry of handling the refugees. As a poorer country than us we can hardly expect the Indonesians to always show such consideration. They don’t want to be flooded with Sri Lankan Tamils and Afghans any more than we do.

Yet, flooded we surely will be while ever there are security problems in those countries causing people to seek safety and adding to those who are on the move for economic reasons as well.  Rudd will soon have to face up to the continuing problem that will soon see the Christmas Island facilities hopelessly overcrowded. Australia will soon have to face up to having boat people on the Australian mainland, which is bound to reawaken the resentment that John Howard so skilfully tapped into to ensure his re-election.

For Labor it is the best possible reason to get the next election over with as soon as possible.

A reason to keep school building. Even a quick glance at the construction statistics out this morning shows why the federal government is in no hurry to stop the infrastructure construction parts of its economic stimulus plans. The numbers show the seasonally adjusted June quarter estimate of the value of total building work done fell 5.3%, to $16,942.6m, following a fall of 2.1% in the March 2009 quarter. Take away projects such as the school-building programs and there would be massive unemployment in the industry by year’s end.

Maybe James is not such a goose. Poppies don’t come any taller in Australia than James Packer so there has been much delight in recent weeks as people point to the massive losses incurred in some of his gambling ventures in the United States, Europe and Macao. Which is what made this morning’s column James still on a roll by Terry McCrann in the Melbourne Herald Sun such an interesting read. Instead of going with the giggling flow McCrann looked at what had happened to the Packer legacy since it was left to James by his Dad Kerry. And the result? He’s done very nicely with his investment strategy, thank you. It’s terrible isn’t it when journalists let a few facts spoil a good story.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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