Monday, September 22, 2008

On the QT: What news on the Rialto?

A new team on the opposition side, but little change in proceedings really.

First up Turnbull came in off the long run and pitched up a half volley to Kevin Rudd. He asked: "Will the PM before he jets off to New York meet with me to discuss what bipartisan arrangements can be arranged to help combat the current financial crisis?"

Before Rudd was even to his feet the Government front bench was pointing out that once again the question was all about Malcolm. Seriously has this guy ever uttered a line without the use of the words "I" or "me"?

Rudd saw this delivery coming from last Friday and slapped it away with ease, pointing out if Turnbull wants to demonstrate some bipartisanship on the economy he can tell those in the Senate to unblock the budget. Too easy really.

The first Dorothy to Rudd was on the financial crisis, and Rudd it must be said was bloody boring. I don't really know what he was banging on about, and I did an honours degree in economics (admittedly it was a long time ago, and I really didn't understand much of what was being said, but you get the idea).

Julie Bishop the new shadow Treasury spokesperson (yes my wishes were granted) fronted up to ask a question to Rudd on liquidity in the market or some such. It was an inauspicious first effort - though I'll give her some credit and assume it was a warm-up. But Rudd dealt with it easily, putting the ball through the covers for a four - not a great shot, but more the type of four that requires the fielder to run all the way to the fence only to just come up short).

Julie B's next effort was to her counterpart Swan on why the government has had three different positions on short selling (the act of "selling" shares you don't actually own in the hope the share price will fall so you can then "buy" - or close out - those shares) in the last three days. Now I watch a fair bit of politics, and this massive lots of changes by the Government had passed me by, but no doubt she was basing it on something. I guess.

Swan started by welcoming and congratulating her to the position, and then after the niceties were done, he laughed and put out the front foot and drove her over the fence. He pointed out that the Government had put out a policy on short selling earlier in the year, that things were moving at a pretty quick pace in the last week, and that at the end of last week most of the stock exchanges around the world began banning various types of short selling. Thus if the Government hadn't changed its policy to adjust to this it would be akin to letting everyone in the world sell short Australian companies.

Now that recap just shows the type of QT it was - mostly boring, because let's be honest, unless it's about Charlie Sheen trying to cozy up to Gordon Gekko, finance is pretty boring.

Chris Bowen had fun with a Dorothy by pointing out the different positions Malcolm Turnbull has on how big $6 billion is. He pointed out that last Friday Turnbull thought it "a very small amount of money", then on Sunday in an interview with Laurie Oakes he said this:

"Clearly, $6 billion is a gigantic amount of money in anyone's terms. It's a huge amount of money".

So it's very small and gigantic and huge, but talk about it is "just rhetoric". With such great material to work with, it's little wonder Bowen looked like he was having fun.

Turnbull then asked Rudd whether it was really a great time to leave the country (because I guess by God nothing can get done if he's not within our borders). Rudd dealt with it pretty easily, but he was actually more the set-up man for Anthony Albanese who was up next with a Dorothy on the importance of overseas travel.

If Bowen had great material, Albanese's was fantastic. He pointed out that back in April Malcolm Turnbull also ventured to New York. Here were the reasons he gave:

There is very great concern about the situation here in America and that’s really the reason I’m here. The security, the mortgages, the homes, the jobs of Australians depend in large measure on the international developments coming out of the United States of this credit crisis, so it was important for me as Shadow Treasurer to come here and discuss that with the Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson and of course with the Federal Reserve Vice Chairman Don Kohn and other senior officials and political figures here.

Gee who will Rudd be meeting? No he won't be meeting with the Vice Chairman of the Federal Reserve. No. He'll meet the Chairman, Stephen Friedman.

Albanese also pointed out that just a week ago Turnbull was jetting back from the sunny climes of Italy, where he was doing...errr bugger all really. Albanese to the absolute delight of the Government front bench pointed out Turnbull had thus gone from merchant banker to the Merchant of Venice.

The rest of QT to be honest involved me not paying too much attention. It seemed like Julie Bishop was trying to blame Rudd for the global financial crisis, and some such.

Joe Hockey, in his new guise as shadow Finance spokesperson asked Rudd that as Rudd had said the crisis will have an impact on government revenue, will that be because of lower growth or fewer jobs.

Now when they were both on Sunrise you got the impression Hockey and Rudd got on OK, I doubt that is the case now. Rudd almost sneered in contempt, and pointed out that the budget had forecast a decline in growth due to the financial crisis so wake up dopey (or words to that effect).
The release of today's Newspoll revealed how biased the media is - especially The Australian. The previous Newspoll had a Two Party Preferred of ALP 56 - LNP 44; today's was ALP 55 - LNP 45. Hardly anything to get excited about.

Last week in anticipation of the first Newspoll after Turnbull taking over the leadership, the blog Larvatus Prodeo put on a little comp for people to come up with the headlines of The Australian depending on what the Newspoll result was. I laughingly put forward the following scenarios:

ALP 52- LNP 48 will be “Turnbull Has Rudd on the Run”
ALP 53- LNP 47 will be “Turnbull Stuns Rudd”
ALP 54- LNP 46 will be “It’s Game On!”
ALP 55- LNP 45 will be “In other news today on page 12…”

So the result was 54-46... and what headline do I find today on Janet Albrechtsen's column? Yep. "Game On". Sad but true.

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