Naked Eye #3

This third instalment of my Sun-Herald summer political column deals with Kevin Rudd’s children’s book and the Jennifer Hawkins kerfuffle, among other delights.

Every dog has its Australia Day

This time last year, the tireless Kevin Rudd took a few days leave to dash off a quick 7,000 word essay for The Monthly, blaming the Liberals for the global financial crisis. This summer, with the pesky crisis as good as solved, he’s used his authorial talents to produce something considerably lighter: a children’s book, written with Play School host Rhys Muldoon and illustrator Carla Zapel.

It’s called Jasper + Abby and the Great Australia Day Kerfuffle, and stars the Rudd family pets. Jasper the cat and Abby the dog “end up saving the day on what could have been an Oz day disaster at the Lodge”, according to the PM. The book, which will raise money for children’s charities, is out later this month. No word yet on whether the villains responsible for this latest crisis are once again from the Liberal Party.

NSW’s job ad nauseam

Finally some good news from Kristina Keneally, who claimed this week that NSW was leading Australia’s economic recovery. The Premier cited big increases in job ads in November and December to show that the state’s economic motor is powering forwards. Three cheers for Kristina!

But wait – this is NSW Labor we’re talking about. So I did a bit more digging, and discovered that while Nathan Rees had announced a hiring freeze in the middle of the year, as of late December the State Government subsequently ignored it to advertise at least 180 senior public service positions in the past few months, splurging over $20 million in wages. About time we placed an ad for another new Premier, isn’t it?

Rolling out the Barry

Speaking of new Premiers, I heard a great rumour this week. Apparently there’s been a move on for a while now to replace the one leader in the country who only needs to turn up to the next election to win it comfortably – NSW Opposition Leader Barry O’Farrell. And while it would be fair to say that the State hasn’t exactly been electrified by his charisma, he does possess the one attribute that voters are looking for: he’s not a member of the ALP. The idea is to promote a fresh, young face, but surely the Libs should proceed with caution. The last time they went for someone fresh and young, they gave us Peter Debnam.

Rudd and Abbott in the pink

Jane McGrath day at the SCG was a wonderful success again this year, raising funds to help the McGrath Foundation provide breast cancer nurses. Everyone found a different way of getting involved and having some fun – Michael Slater donned a lurid pink suit that would later be auctioned for the charity, while Mark Taylor inappropriately quipped that Slats should take his suit down to Oxford St. Kevin Rudd dropped by the ground to cook snags on the barbie for the kids, while Tony Abbott joined the Pink Lads in Lane Cove for a 16km run to the SCG. While it’s great to see both leaders helping to tackle breast cancer, it’s clear which man is best placed to combat the youth obesity crisis.

Hawking Hawkins

Congratulations to Marie Claire for its groundbreaking decision to run an unretouched photo on its cover. Admittedly since it was of Jennifer Hawkins, it didn’t actually need any Photoshopping, but hey – baby steps. The use of unnaturally perfect, digitally manipulated images of women has become so commonplace that the French proposal for all retouched images to be labelled is looking increasingly sensible. Otherwise, there’s a genuine risk that girls will grow up thinking that the ideal body is shaped like one of those willowy aliens from Avatar.

Still, Marie Claire’s cover was a huge success – not with helping women develop confidence in their own bodies, as they claimed; surely nothing could be less helpful for that than printing nude pics of Miss Universe. But it won a heap of publicity for the magazine in a slow news week, and no doubt helped Marie Claire to sell thousands of copies to a whole new readership segment – teenage boys.