Some pundits have proffered in the past few years that the only real point of difference between our major parties these days is their attitude to industrial relations. They both seem very keen to thump away at each other on the issue in 2014, despite Prime Minister Tony Abbott doing everything he could while opposition leader to ignore IR as an issue. The current Opposition Leader Bill Shorten certainly seems to find it comfortable ground along with industry assistance, with both parties keen to show a clear difference on that issue despite previous similarities in policy. Labor is happy to throw in some taxpayer money here and there, while the Liberals remain purer to the free market, if not quite pristine.

On top of such weighty issues as industry assistance and the future of manufacturing in Australia (much of which is in his own state), Victorian Premier Denis Napthine had another septimana horribilis, with Victorian Parliament nearing constitutional crisis territory and devastating bushfires once again threatening homes and lives across the whole state. He would have to think it can’t get too much worse than this.

Fairfax MP Clive Palmer jumped after some media focus on his nickel mine in North Queensland, while Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss jumped back into the list with a “drought tour” planned as the National Party pushes for more assistance. Doesn’t he know this government doesn’t bail out unsustainable businesses?

Of those not on the list, one minister in particular stands out for his invisibility. In a week with much talk about the privatisation of Medibank Private, the Health Minister Peter Dutton managed one radio mention and no television mentions.

Crikey Political Index: February 6-12

SPC is still a major factor on talkback over the past seven days, but Queensland Premier Campbell Newman’s bikie laws just keep on giving as well.

Talkback top five

Issues of industry assistance and the future of our economy also getting a workout on twitter this week, much of it journalists talking to each other, but with plenty of general comment as well.

Social media top five

And the death of Shirley Temple — child actress and (adult) diplomat — means a lot of people are feeling much older today.

Comparison of media mentions