A picture’s worth … Not words but votes. Just 10 days ago it was this:

And today it’s this:

See how power works in this country.

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From page one of the Sydney Morning Herald

And take particular note of that pink arrow. Julia Gillard’s approval rating as measured by AC Nielsen is up six percentage points in a month that saw her stride naturally onto a world stage. And with more joint appearances to come alongside Barack Obama when the President visits Australia there are bound to be more pictures like this morning’s from the APEC meeting in Hawaii causing the arrow to rise still further.

If once upon a time Australians wanted to be sure that their leader would not embarrass the nation when meeting the Queen — and Ms Gillard has passed that test in the last month also — these days the emphasis is on showing good personal relations with the head of the United States.

The camera does not lie. As the Bloomberg newsagency is reporting:

Obama and Gillard, both 50, have a warm relationship, illustrated most recently when the pair passed an Australian football back and forth in the Oval Office during a Gillard visit to the White House in March. The president joked that she “almost broke a bust of Lincoln.”

They visited a high school in Arlington, Virginia, where Obama ribbed Gillard in front of students about the Australian spread Vegemite, saying, “It’s horrible” and told the students it was a “quasi-vegetable-byproduct paste that you smear on your toast for breakfast. Sounds good, doesn’t it?” The president said the U.S. has no stronger ally than Australia.

“They just clicked,” said Ben Rhodes, the White House deputy national security adviser. “They enjoy being around each other. Her personality meshes well with the president’s. She’s fundamentally like the president.”

Paying off the card. There’s just a very modest upward trend in personal financial commitment and the trend growth in commercial finance is  not too flash either. Australian Bureau of Statistics figures for March showed total personal finance commitments rising 0.2%m with fixed lending commitments up 0.6% and revolving credit commitments down 0.3%. The seasonally adjusted series for the value of total personal finance commitments fell 2.5%. Revolving credit commitments fell 7.3%, while fixed lending commitments rose 1.7%.

The trend series for the value of total commercial finance commitments rose 0.3%. Revolving credit commitments rose 0.6% and fixed lending commitments rose 0.1%. The seasonally adjusted series for the value of total commercial finance commitments fell 10.0% in September 2011, after a 7.7% rise in August. Revolving credit commitments fell 15.3%, after a 6.2% rise in the previous month. Fixed lending commitments fell 7.3%, after an 8.5% rise in the previous month.

They are bad parents so let’s further punish their children. I don’t understand this so-called “tough love” approach that will see parents of Northern Territory children who miss 10 days of school in a term without adequate excuses having their welfare payments suspended. There has to be a better way.

A quote for the day. No it’s not from some mad greenie. Rather the view of David Crane, the CEO of one of America’s largest electric utilities that produces power for some 20 million U.S. households with over 90% of it coming from natural gas and coal:

We believe that in the next 3 to 5 years you’ll be able to get power cheaper from the roof of your house than from the grid. Solar is going to go from this thing that right now is like .1 percent of the market to 20 to 30 percent of the overall electricity mix. That’s huge … If you go back about four years to where the price of solar modulars were, the prices have been cut in half in the last four years. I predict that the price of solar modules will be cut in half again in the next two years…