THE LAST GASP: The Greens’ sticky fracture

Christine Milne breaks up with Labor, Tony Abbott looks silly under the limelight and ANZ sends jobs packing to India.

The Last Gasp is a wry take on the week’s biggest news, every week. This week, Paul Howes chooses a convenient time to reject the importance of opinion polls, Christine Milne tells of being left at the altar by Labor and ANZ finds some-much needed job cuts. Because solid gold humvees don’t pay for themselves.

I swear, if you guys rip on me 13 or 14 more times

Despite the very notion of making a public stand being so unlike the Australian Greens, Christine Milne indulged herself a little this week when she declared the agreement between the party she leads and the federal government over, dragging Labor deeper into the mire they have sunk steadily into since the start of this year. Milne used an address to the National Press Club to claim the ALP had abandoned the deal which saw it form a government after the last election, and hopped into bed with the mining industry alongside the coalition. However, Milne maintains that the Greens will still guarantee supply and confidence in the government, claiming the party would not add to the instability caused by Julia Gillard and co every day. In effect, it appears the Greens are completely walking away from the agreement, except for all of the things they will continue to do which made up their end of the deal. So basically, they have just given up what they were meant to receive. So not really ‘walking away’ at all. More like ‘completely rolling over’, but doing it with a very angry face. Grrr.

She walked away

As always, Labor’s pain was music to the opposition’s ears, and Liberal leader Tony Abbott made sure to bask in the warm glow of schadenfreude as much as he could. Australia’s 28th PM said that Gillard's decision to embrace the Greens after the drawn 2010 election was a fatal move, which is an interesting viewpoint, given this was the move that actually got her in power in the first place. But the Liberals themselves didn’t exactly get off scott free from the rage-riddled rants of Milne either. During her address, the Greens leader was scathing of both political parties, saying she understood why the faith of ordinary Australians in politics had turned to disillusionment. How lucky we are indeed then to have such a credible alternative in the Greens. They are so honourable that despite a public break up, they are consciously avoiding doing anything to derail the current parliament serving its full term. This of course has nothing to do with maintaining the party’s controlling power in the Senate. At all.

What is this, I don’t even

Clearly struggling to survive in the embattled Australian financial industry, lending giant Australia and New Zealand Banking Group was forced to outsource 70 back office jobs to India this week, as persistently rising funding costs and strong competition in the sector takes its toll. ANZ posted a cash profit of just $1.37 billion for the quarter last week, and complained of cautious behaviour by consumers and business. You know, the ones that cautiously gave them $1.37 billion. And in a final insult to those made redundant, ANZ said the changes reflected the need for the bank to support its customers with specialist back-office capabilities, as if those employed beforehand were all high school drop outs lucky to be there anyway. The lender justified the move by claiming it would simplify the business in what is a subdued economic environment, which is all well and good, except that, by looking at results alone, the economic environment for banks looks about as subdued as a six year old that drank all the red cordial. Out of a cup made from diamonds.

You’ve timed that well

Union leaders took centre stage earlier in the week, but not like the time they allegedly took member money and spent it on themselves. Allegedly. Rather, in a figurative way, with the annual Australian Workers' Union's national conference dominating news and the political discourse. But also in an actual way, because the show involved a lot of speeches. On a big stage. Anyway, the highlight came when AWU boss Paul Howes proclaimed that he was sick of political opinion polls all together and regretted ever being poll-driven, which is interesting given his pivotal role in seeing Kevin Rudd dumped as Labor leader in 2010. What a coincidence that it has taken Labor’s popularity to plummet for Howes to decide he doesn’t believe in opinion polls anymore. Australia's largest blue-collar trade union used the event to reiterate its support for the PM, in a week where a number of prominent Labor MPs did the same. Simon Crean went as far as to tell a suspicious media that the old Labor party model of responding to dire polls with a change leadership was broken and discredited. Unfortunately for Labor, the Australia people tend not to share such a philosophy when it comes to a broken and discredited government.

Dad, towel rack

Local beverage supplier Coca-Cola Amatil posted a fall in annual profit this week, but took confidence from the fact that growth in its sugarless and low-sugar drinks is outpacing that seen in the sales of its traditional range. Fortunately for Coke, it appears that Australia is full of morons who believe they can drink 15 soft drinks in one day and still be healthy as long as they only buy the low-sugar ones.

Quick misses

– Readers Digest has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the United States for the second time in less than four years. Fans of the long-running magazine have described the news as hard to swallow.

– Federal Education Minister and ex-rock star Peter Garrett told media this week that music still runs through his veins, but refused to reply to demands for a blood sample from the Australian Crime Commission.

– And finally, APN had a huge week, culminating in a complete overhaul of the group’s board. All the public bickering was clearly worth it, given the group’s high value in the extremely lucrative local media industry.