Who knew what when. I doubt that many Australians really care about which politician was told what by Qantas and when about its plans to shut down the airline. The minority of Australians who fly care only that they were not told.

Flying to safety. Julia Gillard will be a jet-about Prime Minister for the next few weeks with a series of international conferences interrupted briefly by a visiting US President Barack Obama.

Playing on the international stage will give her a great opportunity to build on what I sense has been, in the electoral sense, a good period for her. The PM being out of the country limits the scope for Opposition Leader Tony Abbott to play his attack dog role.

I’m expecting an improvement in both Ms Gillard’s personal standing and that of her government as the year draws to its close with very few parliamentary performances to come.

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Sticking with the trend. There was a ripple of excitement among the dreaded economic commentariat a month ago when the seasonally adjusted Australian Bureau of Statistics figures for dwelling units approved showed a dramatic jump. The continuing downward path of the Bureau’s trend figure was ignored.

Alas the September figures out this morning show the euphoria was premature. The seasonally adjusted estimate for total dwellings approved fell 13.6% following that rise of 10.7% in August.

The trend estimate continued to point down, falling 0.7% in September. The trend estimate now has fallen for 11 months.

Giving the people a say. Daniel Hannan, a Conservative Member of the European Parliament for South East England, put it wonderfully well this morning in writing about how Greece’s Prime Minister George Papandreou is in the doghouse with Eurocrats who are terrified of democracy because he dared to offer voters a choice.

I wish I could convey the sheer horror that his proposal provoked in Brussels. The first rule of the Eurocracy is “no referendums”. Brussels functionaries believe that their work is too important to be subject to the prejudices of hoi polloi (for once, the Greek phrase seems apposite). Referendums are always seen as irresponsible; but, at a time when the euro is teetering on the brink, Papandreou’s proposal was seen as an act of ingratitude bordering on treason.

Across the palaces and chanceries of the continent, Euro-elites closed ranks. Nicolas Sarkozy’s spokesman described Papandreou’s announcement as “irrational and dangerous”, Angela Merkel’s called it “irritating”, Silvio Berlusconi’s “negative”. Such phrases, in the mouths of government officials, suggest purple, choking rage.

The Athens establishment lined up with them. Antonis Samaras, the leader of New Democracy, vowed – with splendid disregard for his party’s name — to prevent a referendum “at all costs”. Constantine Michalos, the president of the Athens Chamber of Commerce, called the proposal “an act of political blackmail”. All these insults were provoked by the suggestion that people be allowed to determine their future through the ballot box.

Doctors go googling too. I sometimes get the impression that my affable GP wishes I had not gone to a search engine before appearing at his surgery with my latest ailment and left the business of diagnosis to him. He’s probably right because my fears of being at death’s door have so far always proved incorrect with some kind of placebo or other being all that’s required.

It must be a question of interpreting those internet findings because I read this morning that doctors too are increasingly relying on general browsers such as Google and Yahoo for information.

A survey by the information company Wolters Kluwer Health finds search engines cited by 46% of physicians as a frequent source of information and by another 32% as an occasional resource.

Among other survey findings:

  • 63% of physicians report changing an initial diagnosis based on new information accessed via online resources/support tools.
  • Nearly nine in 10 physicians feel that improved access to online medical information and resources has improved the quality of care at their practice; 12% believe that it has impeded the quality of care they provide.