The hard task of tax reform. Shadow Treasurer Joe Hockey will perhaps have a little more sympathy with Treasurer Wayne Swan after his expedition this week into the murky subject of tax reform. The mere suggestion that income of family trusts should be treated in the same way as companies saw Mr Hockey berated by his National Party coalition colleagues.

After a phone call from Nationals leader Warren Truss came a statement that the Coalition had “no plan to alter the tax treatment of trusts”. And with that out of the way Hockey the courageous reformer made himself unavailable to the press for further comment.

When truth follows fiction. Thanks to Ezra Klein of the Washington Post for drawing my attention to the way that the current standoff between Republicans and Democrats in Washington is following the “West Wing” script.

Blame the Chinese. It is not just political troubles in producing nations that are behind rising crude oil prices. The International Monetary Fund issued a report overnight saying that global oil markets are in a period of increased scarcity, as oil demand in emerging economies is rapidly catching up with demand in advanced economies and production constraints are beginning to bind in some major oil-exporting economies, where oil fields have reached maturity.

According to the analysis by the IMF, released as part of its World Economic Outlook, a persistent adverse oil supply shock would imply lower global output, higher revenues for oil exporters, a surge in global capital flows, and a widening of current account imbalances.

Not going for the vegan vote. Artist Vincent Fantauzzo was clearly not going for the votes of any vegans on the board of trustees of the NSW Art Gallery when he submitted this painting of chef Matt Moran for the Archibald Prize.

The portrait was this morning awarded the annual Packing Room Prize. The final shortlist for the Archibald itself will be announced later today.

Migrants as a weapon of war. There’s not much NATO rockets and bombs can do about the latest weapon being employed by Colonel Gaddafi. His government, reports the London Daily Telegraph is unleashing a wave of migrants against Europe as retaliation for the coalition’s military strikes against Libya.

Col. Muammar Gaddaffi’s regime is alleged to have been actively encouraging boatloads of migrants to leave the country’s shores since March 22, when the first vessel sailed from Tajoura, a suburb of Tripoli.

Libyan armed forces and militias are reportedly turning a blind eye to the thousands of people, many of them sub-Saharan migrant workers who have lost their jobs, who assemble on beaches willing to pay several hundred pounds to be transported to Lampedusa.

The UN estimates that almost 450,000 foreigners have been uprooted by the fighting in Libya but only 218,000 have been able to return home.

Libya appears to be making good on threats issued at the start of the coalition’s bombing campaign, when Moussa Ibrahim, the government spokesman, said the regime would no longer stop sub-Saharan and other refugees from trying to enter Europe by boat.

Peter Fray

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