The revenge of the wambies. The “what about my backyard” vigilantes are being stirred again. This time it is the Adelaide Advertiser doing the agitating. The message? Labor is giving too big a share of the electoral bribes to western Sydney.

Not a narrow-minded Catholic family. The daughters reappeared in the Murdoch tabloids over Easter and showed again they are effective spinners of a broader and more tolerant image of their father, Tony Abbott.

Not that they have changed daddy’s view: Tony Abbott reaffirms opposition to gay marriage despite daughters’ pleas

The decline continues. The harsh judgment of the market on Labor’s federal election chances continues. This week the probability of a Labor win is down to 12.9%.

And doubts about Julia Gillard leading her party when the election is held continue to be significant — assessed by the Crikey Indicator at 32%.

As for today’s significant economic event, the Reserve Bank board decision on official interest rates, no change is very much the expected outcome.

A television interview’s lack of political power. Among the press gallery at the end of a slow week there was joking that one of the few things that might cost Tony Abbott his election victory would be subjecting himself to half a dozen interviews with Leigh Sales. Quite a revealing insight, I thought, into the self-importance journalists can attach to the ability of their breed to influence the political process. A quite unjustified sense of importance as was shown by the lack of impact on the British public of a forensic piece of interviewing early last week on the BBC.

The Guardian rather gleefully reported the interviewer had the London Mayor Boris Johnson admitting he had “sandpapered” quotes as a Times journalist, failing to deny he had lied to the party leader at the time, Michael Howard, about an extramarital affair and conceding he had humoured an old friend when asked for a phone number in the knowledge the friend intended to beat up its owner. By the interview’s close, the paper noted, “You’re a nasty piece of work, aren’t you?” was one of Mair’s more generous reflections on Johnson’s integrity.

The media consensus was that Johnson’s chances of becoming Conservative prime minister had been irreparably damaged, but the mayor refused to go into hiding.

And late in the week came the verdict as published by the Evening Standard:

A quote to keep in mind when listening to Joe Hockey

“… it remains true that Keynes’s dictum — ‘Worldly wisdom teaches that it is better for reputation to fail conventionally than to succeed unconventionally’ — is probably even more true for politicians than it is for bankers. And this probably helps explain the persistence of the austerity cult despite years of failure.”

— Paul Krugman

News and views noted along the way.

  • Opposition research boot camp: learning to dig for political dirt
  • China’s glass ceiling — “Sure, the Middle Kingdom is becoming a superpower, but it’s always going to be No. 2.”
  • Why we need to solve our alcohol problem to solve our crime problem — “All illegal drugs combined are to alcohol as the Mediterranean is to the Pacific. We have our whole navy in the Mediterranean. And that’s true both of the drug policy machinery and those who are fighting the drug war, and of the drug reform movement, which, it seems to me, neglects the problem with the one drug we’ve legalized. Any sentence about drug policy that doesn’t end with ‘raise alcohol taxes’ is an incoherent sentence.”
  • A sensitive matter — “The climate may be heating up less in response to greenhouse-gas emissions than was once thought. But that does not mean the problem is going away.”
  • Open access: the true cost of science publishing — “Cheap open-access journals raise questions about the value publishers add for their money.”
  • Gillard is not the only one with a credibility problem — “The verdict from the parliamentary press gallery is in: the Prime Minister’s government is dysfunctional, with lousy judgment and a fixation with polls. … Turn that around. What if this was the worst political reporting Australians have endured in history? Dysfunctional, with lousy judgment, fixated with polls, feigning concern about the toxicity of political discourse.”
  • Devastating decline of forest elephants in central Africa — “If, conservatively, there were half a million forest elephants in the Congo Basin in 1937 (three elephant generations ago) then about 80% have now been lost. The causes of the decline are unlikely to abate in the short term, and indeed may worsen.”
  • 15 minutes of fame? Study finds true fame isn’t fleeting — “Indeed, the annual turnover in the group of famous names is very low. Ninety-six percent of those whose names were mentioned over 100 times in the newspapers in a given year were already in the news at least three years before. … this can be explained by the fact that both media and audiences are trapped in a self-reinforcing equilibrium where they must continue to devote attention, airtime, and newspaper space to the same old characters because everyone else does so as well.”
  • Giving up Teddy is more than some adults can bear – “It’s not unusual for adults to retain a close, often secret, bond with their childhood teddy bears.”