Another death and more political lies. There are more brave soldiers, I read somewhere recently, than there are brave politicians and we will see more evidence of that today as our leaders pay tribute to Sapper Jamie Larcombe who was killed during un-partnered patrol in Uruzgan province where insurgents launched a coordinated attack with machine gun and small arms fire.

Defence Minister Stephen Smith has already led the way in the great political pretence.

The death of another young Australian soldier, he said, does not weaken the government’s resolve to “stare down” terrorism in Afghanistan.

What fatuous nonsense now that Al Qaeda has been forced to decentralise its activities. The truth is that this Australian government, like the last one, is too scared to admit that this is an unwinnable war out of fear of upsetting our United States ally. And the US, like us, does not want to admit to misleading the public and our soldiers for nine years.

A fine double by the Courier Mail. There are two favourite stories for political journalists — speculation about leadership changes and early elections. This morning the Brisbane Courier Mail excelled itself and gave us a beat-up combining both topics.

The position of the Opposition Leader John-Paul Langbroek, Steven Wardill wrote, will come under renewed scrutiny with widespread belief among his MPs that he is incapable of halting a resurgent Anna Bligh. And as for the Premier, the result of an opinion poll increases the likelihood of an early election, possibly in August or October, with Labor still needing time to recover lost ground.

Perhaps basing both parts of the story on an opinion poll, this time by Galaxy, a third popular inspiration for political journalism, means I should have called the story a fine treble or trifecta rather than just a double!

You will find details of the actual poll at Crikey‘s The Poll Bludger blog.

The cost of insurance. On thing that I do know about insurance companies is that they are not philanthropists. When they quote you a premium to cover the risk of something happening they quite properly build in a profit margin. So the one thing that we taxpayers know is that if Independent Senator Nick Xenophon gets his way we will be paying more to cover the cost of rebuilding state government facilities than we do now.

Kevin keeps sniping away. The former Prime Minister is clearly not going to go away. There he was this morning calling for the Federal Executive of the Labor Party to release its full election review, including the currently secret chapters about his fall from grace.

“Frankly I think it’s in the wider interests of the party and the broader community if at an appropriate time they’re made available for full and informed public discussion.

“It’s important that we see reform of this party of which I’ve been a member now for 30 years.

“To remain a viable party of the people we do need to undertake fundamental reforms, not least of which is the elimination of the power of factional leaders and factions in general.”

It is about as cheekily a mischievous suggestion as can be imagined.

Voting on whether to pay. It will be an interesting test of the values of the people of Iceland when they vote soon on a referendum about whether their government should reimburse the  and Dutch governments four billion euros they lost when the Icesave bank collapsed.

Iceland’s President Olafur Grimsson ordered the referendum even though the country’s parliament authorised the payment. It will be the second referendum held on the question of whether compensation should be paid. Back in March last year the no vote was an overwhelming 93.2%.

Since then the terms of the repayment have been renegotiated with Iceland to pay the money back to the UK at a 3.3% interest rate between 2016 and 2046, rather than a 5.5% interest rate between 2016 and 2024.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey