How long does a Treasurer’s resolve last? Wayne Swan on Radio National before breakfast when asked several times whether personal income taxes would rise:

“I don’t … go into that sort of rule in rule out routine, and I’m not doing it today.

“What I’ll do is the responsible thing — put in place a strict fiscal policy, make sure that working Australians get a fair go, that there is incentive in the tax system, that we build up their superannuation.

“They’re the sort of things I’ll do, and I’ll leave the speculation for everybody else.”

Wayne Swan in a mid-morning statement:

“The proposition of this question is utterly ridiculous and absurd.

“The government’s record on personal income taxes couldn’t be more clear.

“We delivered cuts to personal incomes taxes in three consecutive budgets worth a total of $47 billion.

“Last year we tripled the tax free threshold, from $6000 to $18,000, removing around one million people from the tax system.”

He really is a man of his word is our Wayne.

Back on page one. It has been a few weeks but talk of a leadership challenge is back on page one of the Sydney Daily Terror. Once again no names no pack drill. Just those wonderful anonymous sources.

“A final showdown,” we are advised by The Terror, “between Julia Gillard and Kevin Rudd could come within weeks, as tensions in the Labor caucus rose yesterday over the leaking of a letter critical of the former PM.”

The Crikey Leadership Indicator still puts the chances of such a coup at just over 40%.

An own brand warning. I’ve been a bit of an own brand purchaser myself but I must say that the European horse meat stories have me rethinking my shopping habits. Most of the offending products seem to be in the generic and supermarket branded products. Inevitable, perhaps, that corners are cut by manufacturers when put under price pressure by oligopolists.

Holy sack of straw! God knew. It’s just that he notifies us in mysterious ways.

Der Spiegel reports how Katharina Greve originally drew the cartoon above for the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung about a year and a half ago. It then appeared in the 2013 “Karicartoon” daily page-a-day calendar on Sunday, February 10 — the day before Pope Benedict XVI announced he would step down. In the bubble, Benedict says “Holy sack of straw!,” after realizing he won the lottery. “I’m quitting tomorrow!”

News and views noted along the way.

  • Whitehall’s paper tiger is primed for a fight — A tussle over stationery cost-cutting amounts to much more than that in the corridors of power
  • Shale oil ‘to boost world economy by up to $2.7 trillion’
  • ‘Blackmail, terrorism and tension’ — Greek Left turns up rhetoric – “Today the manuals of European extreme right have become the gospels of present Greek government.”
  • The girls are not alright — “In history and politics, we give a lot of thought to the Young Turk problem; what to do about young, un- or under-employed men to stop them fomenting nationalist revolution, bombing airports or stealing Nikes. But what about the young women societies consider troublesome or surplus?”
  • Inside the Battle of Hoth — “When Vader enters the Hoth System with the Imperial Fleet, he’s holding a winning hand. What follows next is a reminder of two military truths that apply in our own time and in our own galaxy: Don’t place unaccountable religious fanatics in wartime command, and never underestimate a hegemonic power’s ability to miscalculate against an insurgency.”
  • The comedown of Aung San Suu Kyi — “Though the foreign community remains almost uniformly supportive of and uncritical of Suu Kyi, criticism has spread to many Burman activists in the major cities of central Myanmar, especially after Suu Kyi recently seemed to welcome many former army cronies to her side, provided they started spending their money on social programs.”