THE LAST GASP: Planes might fly

This week Clive Palmer draws a long bow, Tony Abbott becomes 'Doctor Yes', and Qantas is correct, unfortunately.

The Last Gasp is a wry take on the week’s news, every week. This week, Wayne makes a welcome mistake and Qantas is proven sadly correct.


Happy to take the blame

The Reserve Bank of Australia backed up its decision to slash interest rates last month with another cut, though this time by just 25 basis points. Clive Palmer left many scratching their heads when he said any rate cut would be the result of economic mismanagement by Wayne Swan. Obviously somewhat confused, Palmer seemed to believe the general public would react with anger should rates be lowered, when it is usually quite the opposite. Unfortunately for the mining magnate, when the cut inevitably came, the ignorant central bank chose to blame the European crisis and a slowing China, letting Swan off scot-free. Elsewhere, Palmer's Coolum resort rolled out major cuts to its workforce this week, only months after he praised the operation and awarded across-the-board $500 bonuses. Clearly staff did not enjoy the newest surprise as much as the last one.

We told you we sucked

Qantas had the week from hell, in a period for the national carrier which has seen not a lot of good news. Only a fortnight after unveiling job cuts, route changes and a major corporate restructure, the group announced they were slashing their full year guidance by close to 90 per cent. It put a rather big dampener on Qantas’ share price, which plummeted to record lows, falling below the $1.00 mark on Friday afternoon. And the revelation also puts somewhat of a dampener on claims from union groups upset by recent job cuts that the company was in relatively good shape.

A bad case of opposition

Liberal leader Tony Abbott denied claims he was too negative this week, responding to accusations of being parliament’s ‘Doctor No’ with statistics he says prove he is parliament’s ‘Doctor Yes’. If one thing’s for certain, it’s that Australian politics definitely needs a doctor. Elsewhere, the government has promised to fight for the carbon tax even if it finds itself in opposition, with Greg Combet claiming the ALP has a responsibility to stand up for the globe. The stance is interesting from the government, given comments from the treasurer this week outlining how Labor would not deal in hypotheticals when it came to the future of the proposed budget surplus. This 'no hypotheticals' policy appears not to extend to the assumption that they will shortly be in opposition.

Seems legit

Clearly frustrated at the lack of attention independent MPs have been getting lately, Bob Katter spent the week talking up the chances of his Australia Party at a national level. The member for Kennedy claims the party went within a ‘whisker’ of being Queensland’s official opposition at the recent state election. It was just 600 votes across four seats, an extra seat and a ton of credibility away from the role. Other than that, very close.

Not as I do

Wayne Swan called for some commonsense from Europe this week, urging leaders in the embattled region to take decisive action on the economy. He said what was missing in the debate was the political will to act, and said all the facts, problems and solutions needed were well-known. In completely unrelated news, ratings agency Standard & Poor’s says Australia’s sovereign credit rating would not be put in danger if the government broke its promise to return the budget to surplus, a linchpin of the ALP’s defence of its much-maligned pledge. At the time of writing, there has been no sign of Swan’s commonsense on that front.

Who left this here anyway?

Proposed changes to environmental laws proposed by Queensland Premier Campbell Newman have come under fire from council groups, who claim the laws will be expensive to implement and have a ‘negligible’ effect. The Coalition’s attack on ‘green tape’ may also not have the benefits it is intended to, a senate committee has been told, and may make almost no difference at a small-to-mid-cap level. Newman claims the changes will save the state’s economy $12 million dollars, at the expense of nothing except the environment the laws were originally designed to protect.

Quick misses

S&P gave Greece a one-in-three chance of leaving the eurozone this week. Hundreds of stockbrokers, whose losses led to Greece’s current state in the first place, took the odds.

Kevin Rudd supporters have doused suggestions the ex-PM was angling for another ALP leadership tilt. Rudd has reportedly told followers that he is only interested in leading the government, not the opposition.

– Hardware giant Bunnings Warehouse has come under pressure to set up an online store this week. Because anyone who can’t be bothered driving to an actual store is surely looking to go to the effort of renovating their house.

Barry O'Farrell has compared the fight for the chairmanship of Echo Entertainment to an election. The NSW premier said the battle had all of the qualities of a proper campaign, expect for an inevitable smashing of the ALP.

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