Premature self congratulation? Given the spate of bad headlines Labor had been getting it was natural enough for Treasurer Wayne Swan to express his pleasure at the gross domestic product figures yesterday showing that the economy is growing again. Pronouncing that the return to growth showed the economy was in good shape.

Adding that the the numbers proved doomsayers on the Australian economy wrong, the Treasurer went on:

“This is an economy with strong investment, rising incomes, sustainable consumption and low unemployment. These are the building blocks of a strong economy.”

But not strong enough, the Australian Bureau of Statistics reported this morning, to stop the unemployment rate and the employment underutilisation rate both rising again in August:

Hu’s coming to dinner. China’s rulers might not have to face democratic elections but they are still wise to the ways of spin doctoring. Among the latest batch of US cables released by WikiLeaks is a description of a visit by China’s Communist Party general secretary Hu Jintao to a rural village where the event was stage managed right down to prescribing the look of the peasant farmer who provided him dinner …

The US cable sent from Beijing to Washington in April 2009 gave this summary of the visit:

“In an October 28 meeting with PolOffs, Shi Jing (protect), a former municipal party secretary in Gansu Province, described a 2007 Chinese New Year visit by CCP General Secretary Hu Jintao to his district and offered insights into how Hu’s domestic trips are organized. Much of what Shi described — taking the advance team on site visits, carefully stage-managing events, and making sure everything looked good on television — was predictable. The CCP General Office, however, went to great lengths to maintain secrecy and did not reveal the identity of the VIP visitor to local officials until the moment of Hu’s arrival. In
arranging Hu’s visit with a local peasant family, General Office officials issued strict orders forbidding local cadres from attempting to “improve” the modest home with new electronics and furnishings, and Shi instructed the family patriarch not to shave prior to the big day.”

Read the full dispatch on Crikey’s The Stump blog.

Like a stay of execution. German’s constitutional court may have staved off an immediate crisis for the Euro currency but clearly has made it more difficult for the German government to act decisively in dealing with the debt problems of weaker members of the European monetary union. In future the government will need to consult the country’s parliament before agreeing to offer further financial support to other nations and the talk of Europe creating joint euro zone bond to solve the financial crisis for weaker nations will remain nothing more than talk. The constitutional court has ruled out such a radical solution.

Grey power and the ABC. I’ve not seen Bronwyn Bishop on the green in her whites but the ABC will surely find her formidable as she take up the good fight for we golden oldies to get lawn bowls back on the television. Bishop, the opposition seniors spokeswoman, knows a vote winning issue when she sees one and will have widespread support as she attacks the ABC for betraying “an important part of our community not served by any other broadcasting outlet”.

Surely the ABC will see the rightness of the cause and leave lawn bowls on the screens and in the lounge rooms of Australians. I for one will be signing her petition.

*Declaration of interest: Richard Farmer was a keen, if rather inadequate, member of Tanunda Bowling Club’s fifth grade pennant side

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey