Youths pay the price. Youth unemployment — those aged 15-19 and wanting to be in the workforce  — has reached its highest level in nearly a decade. Australian Bureau of Statistics figures for July released this morning put the seasonally adjusted rate at 18%. It was last above this level back in 2001. The July figure  is up from a low point of 11.5% in August 2008. That’s an extra 53,700 young people without a job.

Overall, the figures show that economic growth is barely sufficient to find jobs for those entering the labour market, with unemployment rising in July to 5.3% after a 0.2% increase in the participation rate.

12-08-2010 emplopymentandunemployment

Crossing a delicate line. An independent Reserve Bank is something of an anomaly in a democracy where an unelected group or people get to make major decisions that have an effect on all of us. For one thing, when the board makes a mistake and the economy suffers, it is not its members who get punished but the government, which has granted it an independent role in monetary policy. It is a delicate balancing act for  government and bank and that the system generally works without public tension reflects well on the political sensitivity of those involved.

Part of that sensitivity has to be each party carefully choosing the words it uses about the other. Too much public controversy and politicians will eventually insist that if they are going to get the blame they might as well be responsible for the decisions.

It seems to me that Reserve Bank board member Warwick McKibbin is now getting close to going too far in his criticisms of the Labor government over the benefits of its stimulus package. He has become quite a major player in the economic debate in a way that can be seen as party political. If the professor wants to play this game of a partisan participant,  he should stick to being an ANU professor and forget about being a Reserve Bank board member.

Election far from top of the public mind. As a long-time print journalist, I found it quite depressing the first time I sat behind the one-way glass and watched a skilled researcher tease out of people their opinions (or quite often their lack of them) about politics and where they gained their information. Rare it was to find a swinging voter who was influenced by anything they read in a newspaper. A quick glance at a headline anything to do with politics and the page was turned pronto. And as for party political advertisements, they were an absolute no-no paid no attention at all.

I am not really surprised then to find that stories about who has promised what to whom in a day of election campaigning rarely feature in the list of most-read items on newspaper websites. The great majority of Australians have other things on their mind that are of far more interest to them. Stories such as these that were top of the lists at midnight last night:

Fairfax Sites:

  • Brisbane Times — Woman drove 2km through busway before death
  • WA Today — Renters live the high life … for now
  • Melbourne Age — Wild weather to hit Melbourne
  • Sydney Morning Herald — Raging flight attendant who made his own emergency exit appears in court

News Limited Sites:

  • — ‘You’ve left your kids with a p-edophile’
  • Adelaide Now – Model ‘had s-x with wrong football player’
  • Sydney Daily Telegraph — Bondage man dies in tree s-x stunt
  • Melbourne Herald Sun — Bureau warns: brace for impact
  • Perth Now — First look at Cousins drug video
  • Brisbane Courier Mail — Wild weather on the way
  • The Australian — Labor struggling in key states

Other sites:

  • NineMSN — Obese man sits on thief, accidentally kills him
  • The West Australian — Passenger killed in Nannup crash

Only on the website of the national daily The Australian was a political story the most read. And what’s more, none of the other sites even had a political story in their top five.

It’s just a little something we should keep in mind as we try and evaluate the impact of the daily political events on voting intentions.

It was yes or no at the Tele. An intriguing variation on those website instant polls in the Sydney Daily Telegraph after last night’s very interesting Rooty Hill RSL appearances by the Prime Minister and the Opposition leader.

12-08-2010 thetele'syes-nopoll

Eventually someone twigged that asking people to vote for a Yes or a No was not going to be very revealing and the names of the leaders was substituted. That Tony Abbott emerged the popular choice comes s no surprise when you look at the result for the paper’s other poll of readers opinion asking visitors who they intend to vote for.