A bit stiff with the timing. The Liberal Party were a bit stiff with the timing of their Federal Liberal Party Council meeting. The machine clearly had gone to a lot of trouble to make the weekend Canberra gathering a springboard for the coming election campaign.

27-06-2010 tonyabbott'ssstrongplan

The advertising and PR men had spent many hours and undoubtedly many dollars in preparing material for their leader’s “Our Action Contract”.

27-06-2010 liberalsactioncontract

It all came to very little for the simple reason that the nation’s new Prime Minister made red, not blue, the colour of the weekend. Julia Gillard was the Saturday and Sunday politician of the moment not Tony Abbott.

Had Kevin Rudd still been the opponent then things would have been different because the “12 realistic, modest and prudent election commitments that are achievable and deliverable over the next three years” are a well thought out foundation for the Opposition’s campaign. Most definitely they address, with their signed contract pledge, the concern some people might have that Tony Abbott is not a politician who can be believed.

Here’s a sample of the dozen Contract pledges:

27-06-2010 contractpledgessample

Getting rid of negatives. A relaxed and confident Captain Gillard in the first of what no doubt will be many Sunday morning Prime Ministerial chats. Describing her promotion from vice captain she set about doing her best to rid her team of the major negatives that Labor research clearly threw up before the sacking of Kevin Rudd.

27-06-2010 oakesandgillard

We are to have under Prime Minister Gillard a smaller population — or at least by saying she is not interested in a big Australia she wants us to think that under her administration population will be smaller… Mark that up as a victory for Dick Smith and his sustainable Australia campaign. Mark it down as an example of the damage that can be done when a Prime Minister like Kevin Rudd gets a bit extravagant with his language on television and says things like “I actually believe in a big Australia. I make no apology for that. I actually think it’s good news that our population is growing. I think it is good for us, it’s good for our national security long term, it’s good in terms of what we can sustain as a nation.”

27-06-2010 sundayage

Julia Gillard with a friendly smile patted back every effort by the Nine Network’s Laurie Oakes to get an explanation of what her definition of sustainable population actually means. The same thing happened when the talk turned to boat people — a very concerned leader who understands the fears and worries of people who keep seeing pictures on the telly of boats arriving up north did not attempt to say what, if anything, her Government will be doing differently.

Affable talk again when it came to emissions trading. There was no success at all in getting past the flashing smile to learn what a lasting and deep community consensus on climate change action with a price on carbon actually means. “You have to take the community with you when you make deep and lasting changes” was the best we got.

Which was more than we learned about future plans for a re-negotiated mining super profits tax. Something will end up being different but goodness knows what.

No opinion poll surprises. The media’s love of opinion polls continues unabated. A veritable rash of them since the leadership change and all of them completely meaningless. They showed what any reasonable observer would have predicted. Political honeymoons still exist.

Transitioning from home ownership. In the United States the rise in the number of people unable to meet housing loan repayments continues to grow. And what do that nation’s bankers now call the painful process of being evicted?

In testimony prepared on 24 June for a congressional hearing Barbara Desoer, president of Bank of America’s home-loan and insurance unit said this: “Given the depth of the nation’s recessionary impacts on homeowners, a considerable number of customers will transition from home ownership over the next two years.”

Transition from home ownership! What kind people these bankers are.

Troubling signals from Greece Promising tough and painful economic action is the easy bit. Actually doing it is a good deal harder. The European Community and the International Monetary Fund might have demanded Greece act to reduce the budget deficit but there are clearly problems for Prime Minister George Papandreou in actually doing so.

The Greek daily Kathimerini reporting on Saturday on reluctance of some in the governing coalition to change pension arrangements to lower payments and increase the retiring age.

No doubt the bomb explosion in the office of the Citizens’ Protection Minister Michalis Chrysochoidis which killed one of his aides this week is making some politicians wary of upsetting too many of the people. A decision by the opposition New Democracy Party to promise to end the agreement with the EU and the IMF and for Greece to again become “master of its own economic destiny” just adds another complication as Parliament approaches a vote on the pensions issue.

Those lending Greece the money to pay its bills clearly are getting worried again as this chart from the US Atlanta Fed’s weekly Financial Highlights makes clear:

Click to enlarge graph

Greek bond spreads (over German bonds) have risen recently, near the highs seen before the European policy package was announced in early May and they went higher still the day after the US Fed produced its report.

These are clearly still troubled times.

Headline of the week.

sumowrestlersuitandsnickersbar

Just another night out in Dublin really as reported in that city’s Herald. Dublin District Court heard how Sandra Talbot (32) lashed out at victim Adrienne Martin in a row that started over a novelty sumo wrestler’s suit that Talbot was wearing. The row developed as the victim tried to wave at a man dressed as a Snickers bar.

Troubling signals from Greece. Promising tough and painful economic action is the easy bit. Actually doing it is a good deal harder. The European Community and the International Monetary Fund might have demanded Greece act to reduce the budget deficit but there are clearly problems for Prime Minister George Papandreou in actually doing so.

26-06-2010 greekelectionthreat

The Greek daily Kathimerini reporting on Saturday on reluctance of some in the governing coalition to change pension arrangements to lower payments and increase the retiring age

No doubt the bomb explosion in the office of the Citizens’ Protection Minister Michalis Chrysochoidis which killed one of his aides this week is making some politicians wary of upsetting too many of the people. A decision by the opposition New Democracy Party to promise to end the agreement with the EU and the IMF and for Greece to again become “master of its own economic destiny” just adds another complication as Parliament approaches a vote on the pensions issue.

Those lending Greece the money to pay its bills clearly are getting worried again as this chart from the US Atlanta Fed’s weekly Financial Highlights makes clear:

26-06-2010 euroopeanbondspreads

Peter Fray

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