Gail Kelly’s playing point guard for the PM. Westpac’s supremo Gail Kelly came out in defence of the prime minister this morning, saying she can vouch for Julia Gillard being a good listener.

Kelly told The Sydney Morning Herald she’s had “robust discussions” with the PM and that although they have had their differences, there’s a “healthy level of respect” between the two.

Kelly, who we named No. 5 on our Money Movers power list, also urged big businesses to follow her lead, saying they should be doing more to start engaging constructively with the Gillard government.

It must be a welcome distraction for Kelly following last week’s interim results, and the fact Westpac passed on just 37 basis points of the RBA’s recent 50 point interest rate cut.

Commonwealth Bank exec looks elsewhere. Speaking of the Big Four, Commonwealth Bank boss Ian Narev is on the global recruitment hunt, after losing one of his key senior executives.

Just as the bank announced it will be axing 100 jobs in Melbourne, it also announced that retail banking services group head, Ross McEwan, would be quitting the bank to take up a new position with the Royal Bank of Scotland.

McEwan was once in the running to replace former CEO Ralph Norris before the job went to Narev, so you can hardly blame the guy for looking elsewhere.

Putin’s nuclear power pack. We couldn’t ignore this one today. Vladimir Putin is back as president of Russia again, and one of the perks of getting his old job back is that Vlad gets back his trusty presidential power pack, which he will take wherever he goes.

The power pack is a black suitcase containing secret codes to initiate a nuclear attack, in case Russia needs one. There are three such cases in all, with the others held by the Russian army chief of staff and the nation’s defence minister, who also need to send coded signals to the command centre before the button can be pressed.

Putin was handed the case moments after taking the oath yesterday and donning his ceremonial golden chain with double eagles. Not far away, some 400 anti-corruption protesters (arrested on Sunday by baton-wielding police) were holed up in Moscow police HQ. Paul Barry (read the full story here)

Peter Fray

Save 50% on a year of Crikey and The Atlantic.

The US election is in a little over a month. It seems that there’s a ridiculous twist in the story, almost every day.

Luckily for new Crikey subscribers, we’ve teamed up with one of America’s best publications, The Atlantic for the election race. Subscribe now to make sense of it all, and you’ll get a year of Crikey (usually $199) and a year’s digital subscription to The Atlantic (usually $70AUD), BOTH for just $129.

Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

JOIN NOW