Socialism returns to Australian politics. It’s been a while since we’ve had a political party advocating increased public ownership of the means of production. But now the subject is back on an election agenda and it is not the Labor Party that’s putting it there. The new socialist advocates are Katter’s Australian Party.

Party founder and leader Bob Katter spelled out the philosophy when his members met at the weekend for their first convention and to launch their campaign for the Queensland state election.

He told the party faithful  party he would tour the state in a big red bus and spruik the message of building local infrastructure while protecting local jobs and state owned assets.

“We will build things and we will not sell the assets of the people.

“The message of what we will build will become obvious as we start to move up the coast.

“This afternoon I’ll be laying down generalisations and when that bus pulls up in your area we will be delivering to you the specifics.”

As for his opponents, well, Premier Anna Bligh was guaranteed to sell electricity infrastructure if Labor was re-elected at next month’s state poll, but so would the LNP.

“If the LNP gets elected, they’ll sell them faster,” he said. “You can’t sell off those assets. Those assets belong to the people. They do not belong to the crown.”

Giving us a double dose. The domination of political reporting by opinion polls has been given a boost by The Australian. As if a fortnightly Newspoll was not enough, the paper is continuing with its new policy of spreading the impact to Mondays as well as Tuesdays. This morning we had some anti-Gillard findings on economic management as a preview to tomorrow’s main event on overall leadership popularity and voting intentions.

No doubt the motivation for the doubling up is to feed the insatiable media desire to speculate about leadership changes. Tonight it will be the ABC’s turn to feed the frenzy with a Four Corners program devoted to Kevin Rudd’s leadership ambitions.

The benefit of women members. From the United States comes a study showing that female incumbents do better at getting re-elected than males. The conclusion:

“Female victors have superior political skills compared to otherwise equivalent males, as indicated by the fact that they are more likely to win elections once they are able to face the hurdle of winning the first election. They have a 6-7 percentage point higher incumbent effect than a comparable male.”

Bad news from Japan. We might be Chinacentric these days but Japan remains an important market for our mineral exporters and the news this morning that the Japanese economy contracted in the October to December quarter is hardly encouraging.

Gross domestic product shrunk by 2.3% during the period from an year earlier, much worse than 1.4% contraction that analysts had forecast. Compared with the previous three months, the economy contracted by 0.6%.

Peter Fray

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