A favourable verdict. The Reserve Bank Governor Glenn Stevens clearly comes from a different planet than Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey.

The Opposition Leader and his jovial Treasury spokesman have been talking for months as if the Labor Government is leading us towards economic rack and ruin. Yet this morning the independent and impartial Governor described the national economy as at a “pretty good starting point” to face the uncertain global economic conditions, as households continue to save more and cut back on debt.

According to Mr Stevens when he appeared before the House of Representatives Economic Committee, corporate balance sheets are in good shape, Australia’s terms of trade are at a record high and unemployment remains low.

“Inflation bears watching, but we can keep it under control.

“Our banks are strong, our currency is sound and our sovereign credit position is in the international top tier.

“Consumer caution, while making life hard for the retail sector, is also building resilience in household balance sheets.

“If we are entering another period of weaker international conditions, this is a pretty good starting point from which to do so.”

When it comes to gender … Women are still living longer than men, but men are closing the gap. A new publication by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, Gender Indicators, Australia, out this morning shows that over the last ten years life expectancy at birth has increased at a greater rate for men (by three years) than for women (by two years). However, women continue to have a higher life expectancy at birth (now 84 years for women and 79 years for men).

The new publication looks at the differences between males and females in the main areas of well being such as economic security, education, work and family balance, health and safety and justice.

Over the past ten years women have increased their participation in the labour force, while it has remained relatively stable for men. However women earn 11% less than men per hour, on average.

Be warned First Dog! From the International Herald Tribune this morning:

And an example of Ali Ferzat’s work:

I wish I’d written it. From this morning’s National Times section of the Fairfax websites comes an insightful opinion piece by Julian Burnside QC on how “misinformation and dishonesty abounds over asylum seekers.” An extract (but please read the whole thing!):

To understand what has happened since the time of Tampa, we need to start with a few simple facts. Boat people are not “illegal” in any sense. There are no queues in the places they flee from. They come in very small numbers. Asylum seekers who come by plane outnumber boat arrivals about three to one. Asylum seekers who arrive by boat are, historically, very likely to be assessed as genuine refugees; those who come by plane are, historically, unlikely to be assessed as genuine refugees. However, asylum seekers who come by boat are held in detention, whereas those who come by plane are not: we treat most harshly those who are most likely to be traumatised already and most likely to be lawfully entitled to our protection.

Why do we do this? What is it about our national character that explains such cruel, illogical behaviour? Simple: the politicians do it for political gain, and most Australians do not fully understand what is being done in their name.

Peter Fray

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