A little bit of passion. I’m not sure what Kerry O’Brien wanted  Kevin Rudd to say on the 7.30 Report last night. Probably something like “I’m a dill” but it was never going to happen. Prime ministers just don’t do that kind of thing, no matter how rudely provocative the interviewer. So we were presented instead with a combination of mild anger mixed with a little sympathy as the red-headed one went on and on seeking an explanation from his victim about why his popularity had fallen so dramatically and why he had retreated from his principles on so many issues.

It was not Rudd’s finest moment on television but it won’t have done him any harm either. Those who don’t like him now have another reason to justify their prejudice and those who think he is actually doing quite a good job will wish he had given O’Brien a fair dinkum serve. Perhaps next time the PM will just content himself with saying that he leaves it to the commentators to comment on the wisdom of his decisions while he gets on with making them.

No super recovery. The employment and unemployment numbers out from the Australian Bureau of Statistics this morning pretty much show an economy growing fast enough to keep the number without a job steady but not fast enough to lower it. That does give support to Treasurer Wayne Swan’s argument that without the stimulus packages, conditions would now be much worse. No doubt that is not what we will hear tonight from Tony Abbott when he replies to the Swan Budget speech.

Consumer confidence down. Another sign to add to the stagnant unemployment rate, the plateauing retail sales figures and the declining home building finance figures is the fall in consumer confidence that the Morgan poll measures before Tuesday’s Budget. The survey conducted on the weekend of May 8-9 showed the confidence index dropping 5.7 points in a week to 117.8 —  the lowest number for nine months. Gary Morgan believes the biggest driver behind this week’s fall has been a substantial drop in confidence about the Australian economy over the next 12 months with 33% (down 12% — the largest weekly drop ever seen in this indicator) saying Australia will have “good times” economically over the next 12 months.

Chinese confidence down as well. If the Chinese stock exchange is any guide, then there is declining confidence about the immediate economic future of our largest trading partner. The Shanghai Stock Exchange Composite Index has fallen considerably as you can see here.

Boxing to the top. Television interviewers in the Philippines will no doubt be more polite to one of their country’s new members of parliament than Kerry was to Kevin. The world champion at five different weight divisions, Manny Pacquiao, was successful in last week’s election in Sarangani province after running on  a platform he described as “very simple, very basic” — giving small boats to fishermen and financial support to neighbourhood stores so people can build livelihoods plus offering free education and medicine and medical care to the poor. Congressman Pacquaio certainly will not be in the poor category himself after what he promises will be his last professional fight later in the year, most probably against the unbeaten welterweight Floyd Mayweather.

Peter Fray

Get your first 12 weeks of Crikey for $12.

Without subscribers, Crikey can’t do what it does. Fortunately, our support base is growing.

Every day, Crikey aims to bring new and challenging insights into politics, business, national affairs, media and society. We lift up the rocks that other news media largely ignore. Without your support, more of those rocks – and the secrets beneath them — will remain lodged in the dirt.

Join today and get your first 12 weeks of Crikey for just $12.


Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey