Anyone will do. If you can be described as a “Labor figure”, anyone will do to help put leadership back on the news agenda. Yesterday morning a former WA state member and failed federal candidate Alannah MacTiernan filled the bill. By afternoon it was the turn of that party giant Kon Vatskalis from the Northern Territory to declare that Julia Gillard should depart. Later today I expect my brother’s neighbour’s mother’s friend, who once voted Labor but isn’t planning to this time, to get her 30 minutes of fame.

Such an interview would have given a bit of substance to last night’s 7.30 program on the ABC. Alas, we had to make do with the recycled MacTiernan as justification for the Mission Impossible storyline.

Still, it all made for a worthy winner of the Daily Leadership Beat-Up Award, as it was a report totally without substance. Just a pity that Newspoll came along showing an improvement for Labor and dampening the momentum. But not to worry. There are many more fortnights to go to keep the story bubbling along.

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A leadership-free zone. Such a killjoy was Newspoll that this morning’s front pages were a virtual leadership-free zone. In the tabloids only the Adelaide Advertiser could find the enthusiasm even to have a pointer to a “Labor MPs in crisis talks” story tucked away inside. The Australian naturally enough made a welter of the poll results — well, it does pay for the survey — but not much excitement about its “Glimmer of hope” headline.

Obama loses election. Malik Obama, President Barack Obama’s older half-brother, suffered a crushing loss in his bid to become governor of Siaya at the recent Kenyan elections.

Not a clever tactic. Among the younger generation of my family there is considerable sympathy for the plight of Schapelle Corby, and I expect that Labor has detected something similar on a broader scale. Hence the seemingly strange decision of Foreign Minister Bob Carr to make the impossible-to-keep promise that if Corby is released from a Bali jail Australia will guarantee she conforms to whatever parole conditions are imposed. If nothing else, the promise is good politics. Not so clever is the decision of the federal opposition to question the wisdom of doing whatever is necessary to help the woman.

Greens forgetting about the trees. Preserving trees and allowing wild rivers to flow free were the foundations of the success of Green parties in Australia. It was not noble words about ecological sustainability, participatory democracy, peace and non-violence and social justice that lured voters from the established parties. Pretty pictures of the Franklin River and ugly ones of clear-felled forests are what did the trick. Today’s Greens forget that at their peril.

Perhaps forgetting that is what happened at the weekend to the WA Greens. Their policies were a tree-free zone. Instead we had thousands of words like this mumbo jumbo:

“The Greens (WA) are committed to creating an ecologically sustainable future, integrating social, economic and ecological imperatives into public policy through transparent democratic processes.

“This approach means harmonising human work and enterprise with natural systems and social justice. It affirms the intrinsic value of the nonhuman world and acknowledges the interdependence between people and their environments.”

News and views noted along the way. 

  • It’s so unfair, say ‘under-paid’ bankers — “Globally, 67.2pc of bankers were ‘unhappy with their overall remuneration package’ for 2012.”
  • Revenge of the sources — “The salaries of professional journalists are built upon our success in convincing experts of all kinds working for exposure rather than pay. Now those experts have found a way to work for exposure without going through professional journalists, creating a vast expansion in the quantity and quality of content editors can get for free.”
  • To the manor born — “Big houses may mean culture and civility, but they are also at the nub of a whole system of property, labour and production.”
  • What is wind chill factor?
  • Sputtering global economy belies stockmarket boom — “Asia’s economic recovery is losing momentum and Europe’s slump is proving deeper than expected, raising concerns that soaring stock markets globally have jumped ahead of economic reality.”
  • Obama team stops saying ‘global war on terror’ but doesn’t stop waging it
  • On International Women’s Day, Limbaugh defends his use of the term “feminazi” — “A long time ago the feminazis began their quest to make women more like men, which is what feminaziism is, essentially, all about — to dress like us, acquire power like us, have careers like us, all that, that’s really what it was all about.”
  • The challenge of debt reduction during fiscal consolidation –The International Monetary Fund on austerity: “With multipliers close to 1, fiscal consolidation is likely to raise the debt ratio in the short run in many countries. Although the debt ratio eventually declines, its slow response to fiscal adjustment could raise concerns if financial markets react to its short-term behavior. It may also lead country authorities to engage in repeated rounds of tightening in an effort to get the debt ratio to converge to the official target. Not explicitly taking into account multipliers or underestimating their value may lead policymakers to set unachievable debt targets and miscalculate the amount of adjustment necessary to bring the debt ratio down.”