‘Round we go again. Australia’s “awakened Asia-mindedness” was what the Japanese Prime Minister Kishi called it back in 1957. The Australia-Japan Agreement on Commerce signed on July 6 that year was talked of as a growing realisation that our future prosperity was tied inextricably to the future of the Asia Pacific region. And 55 years later we still have a government talking as if there is something bold, significant and new about developing relations with the countries to our north.

Better than a pass mark. The Newspoll race has ended with a tied two party preferred vote of 50:50 and I have to assess those Crikey readers who entered our snippets prediction contest as at least pointing in the right direction. An overwhelming majority predicted that the Labor vote would improve from the 54 Coalition to 46 Labor in the poll before misogyny. The personal rating of Prime Minister Julia Gillard did not improve as predicted but Opposition Leader Tony Abbott went down as was the wisdom of our crowd.

The long and short of it. Australians are getting taller and heavier, the Australian Bureau of Statistics has found. The first instalment of a 2011-2012 health survey says the average Australian man (18 years and over) is 175.6 centimetres tall and weighs 85.9 kilograms. The average Australian woman in 2011-12 was 161.8 centimetres tall and weighed 71.1 kilograms.

On average, Australians are growing taller and heavier over time. Between 1995 and 2011-12, the average height for men increased by 0.8 centimetres and for women by 0.4 centimetres, while the average weight for men increased by 3.9 kilograms and for women by 4.1 kilograms.

In general, older people are shorter than younger people with the average male aged 75 years and over (169.7 centimetres) being 8.1 centimetres shorter than one aged 18-24 years (177.8 centimetres). Women aged 75 years and over (155.7 centimetres) were also 8.1 centimetres shorter than women aged 18-24 years (163.8 centimetres) on average.

Putting the Irish vote at risk. So one of Mitt Romney’s campaign chairmen has hastily withdrawn his suggestion that former secretary of state Colin Powell only endorsed President Barack Obama for re-election because they are both African-American. Just as well because John Sununu was putting at risk the vast Irish vote.

News and views noted along the way