So last night Julia Gillard gave a speech before the Joint Houses of the US Congress
I thought is was a good speech. The speech was obviously tailored for the American audience – lots of ‘you guys are great’ etc. The key of any good speech is to know your audience. The PM knew this audience and she hit them right where they like to be hit (yeah she made John Boehner cry – and if you can’t do that, you really have missed the mark). All up I think she did us proud.
It won’t convince those who really don’t like her to like her – because I think they’ve pretty much decided their views on Gillard. But for the rest of us who don’t feel the need to mention make-up every time we write about the PM, I think there’s not much to criticize about the speech – a few clangy syntaxes (‘transitioning’) aside.
The right-wing op-ed writers and shock jocks of course will like to make much of the fact many in the audience were staffers and ignore that when Howard addressed the Congress back in 2002, only about 10 per cent of the congress showed up.
Finding not much to disagree with the content of the speech, the next step of the right-wing is to say she actually sounded like Howard, or perhaps suggest that the left would have gone nuts had Howard given such a speech. That’s a fun game to play, you can do it for lots of things: like for example, imagine if John Howard were the one introducing a price on carbon, what would be the reaction of business, The Australian and right-wing shock jocks?
The problem I had with Howard and his relationship with the US was not his obvious kowtowing to Bush (oh OK, I had issues with that), but more the dopey sense that because he and Bush were “mates” somehow our alliance was stronger. What bullshit. The US-Australia alliance, aside from when Nixon and Whitlam were in charge, has been as close as you can get without indulging in under the sheets action. It will ever be thus. Yeah Obama went with Gillard to the school – it was nice to see and showed they get on well – but it doesn't mean Australia is now somehow at the top of his agenda, anymore than the Howard-Bush dynamic meant Howard was at the forefront of Bush’s mind.
Back home the unemployment figures for February were released. They were pretty good. Not great, but good. Solid at 5 per cent where it has now been for 3 months.
The actual number of employed person went up – but it was mostly due to part-0time employment going down (57,700) while full-time employment increased (47,600).
The big decline in part-time employment was in QLD – so next month, after the impact of the floods has declined its likely the rate will go below 5.0.
And then of course we’ll get lots of talk about wages break out, inflation, and then interest rates (of course – all economic reporting must refer to interest rates).
And there will be those who will say we need to reform the labour market – undo the Fair Work Act and all of Labor’s union-loving policy.
So let’s have a look at the data. Here’s the Labour Costs from the RBA’s statistic pack for the last five years (apologies it only goes to June 2010, but it gives a good view of things):
Yeah you can really see that impact of the unions now being in charge…
How about strikes? Surely there the evil unions are just killing business:
Yeah it’s gone mad.
So unemployment solid, labour costs and labour disputes stable; the PM over in Washington delivering the goods.
Sure sucks to be under an ALP Government...
Just a quick note to say there won’t be a Friday Night Relaxer post tomorrow – real life intervenes, so have a good weekend all.