Perhaps there is no solution. The hardest thing for politicians to admit is that there probably is no solution to all the problems that concern their voting public. And on no subject is the absence of a solution more likely to be true than dealing with unwanted migration.

Throughout the world the movement of poor people to richer countries is proceeding apace and I am unaware of any group of politicians coming up with a way of stopping it. I don’t expect our lot to be any different, whether or not they agree on a system of offshore processing. When you are prepared to dice with death on a leaky boat you are unlikely to be put off by the possibility of spending a year or two on Nauru or Manus Island.

Public employment keeps steadily growing. There are no signs yet in the Australian Bureau of Statistics figures that budget restraints are causing a falling off in public sector employment. The ABS reported this morning that the federal, state and local governments ended the 2010-11 year with an extra 52,000 employees than the year before.

Over the four years covered by the ABS figures, the fastest growth rate has been in local government — up 13.9% since 2007-08 with Commonwealth employment increasing by 6% and state governments by 7.9%.

Start guarding the Maillol. Art theft has taken on a new meaning now that commodity prices sre high. Sculptures have become attractive to scrap metal thieves. This week a bronze sculpture by Barbara Hepworth, valued at half a million pounds called Two Forms (Divided Circle), was cut from its plinth.

And over the Channel, a 1:2 scale model of a F104 Starfighter jet belonging to the Deelen Airbase Museum near Arnhem went missing.

The museum hopes that New Year pranksters rather than metal thieves are to blame. The BBC reports that a note left at the scene said: “Fly away. See you next year.” Canberra’s National Gallery had better step up security at its outdoor sculpture garden, lest bronzes like Aristide Maillot’s La Montagne suffer the same fate …

A patriotic Christmas. In Britain they make a big thing each year of which single will be top of the charts come Christmas Day, and this year the bookmakers have even stopped betting on the result. The Military Wives are the clear cut favourites …

The official charts company reports the choir’s Wherever You Are is the fastest selling single in six years. The lyrics were taken from love poems, which were written between the women and their absent husbands. Royal wedding composer Paul Mealor wrote the music.

Peter Fray

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