Stand by for pointless aggro. The sooner we get the next election over with the better. The prospect of an Opposition “focused on criticising the Government rather than speculating about ourselves” is just too horrible to contemplate.

Tony Abbott promised this morning that his new team of shadow ministers would be a campaigning team “well placed to exploit the Government’s vulnerabilities.” Thus we will have Nick Minchin in the energy and resources portfolio and fellow hardliner Eric Abetz in workplace relations to take us back to the policies of the Howard past. We are going to have the last election campaign all over again with the exception of a Coalition this time opposed to emissions trading rather than in favour. And, to really give an old-times sake feel, Bronwyn Bishop returns from the backbench to preside over seniors with Kevin Andrews bringing his Catholic touch to family policy.

As expected, Barnaby Joyce has abandoned his principles of senatorial independence and joined the mainstream as shadow Minister for Finance. At least it will be fun watching the squabbles in the National Party as he tries to stab a colleague to political death to gain a House of Representatives seat.

The talking goes on. Kevin Rudd is becoming increasingly vulnerable by the month over not producing his new deal on health and hospitals with the State Governments. Yesterday’s COAG meeting again deferred decisions making it look like the Prime Minister is all talk and no action.

How can this type of gathering achieve anything? The television pictures of the opening session of the Copenhagen conference confirmed for me that it will be a miracle if a gathering of experts from 190 countries can achieve anything. Surely there are just too many people gathered together to achieve anything. Any real decisions will be made by a few major countries outside the debating hall rather than by the set piece speeches being delivered within it.

Surely she doesn’t believe it. Westpac boss Gail Kelly must be one of those people who believes her past favourable press reviews if she really thinks that it is clever to say, as her head of retail banking Peter Hanlon did yesterday, that “We don’t have a price-leading strategy; we’re not the Jetstar of banking.” That was clear enough to people from the actions of this price gouging bank without having it rubbed in  by words.

And every bit as stupid was Ms Kelly’s attempt to suggest that the politicians approve of her decision to put up mortgage rates by more than the increase in official Reserve Bank rates.

Peter Fray

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