This is a sample of The Echidna newsletter sent out each weekday morning. To sign up for FREE, go to theechidna.com.au Things could have gone two ways for the Albanese government. As it conferred with state and territory leaders in a snap national cabinet meeting, it had a choice: be flexible and rebuild some of the trust it foolishly eroded last week. Or dig its heels in, trot out unconvincing talking points and treat the Australian public like mugs. It chose the first, better path, ensuring the political honeymoon would last a little longer. At issue was pandemic support payments for people who have no sick leave. Introduced by the former government, they expired on June 30, just as the winter COVID wave arrived. Casual employees with no sick leave entitlements looked like being left shouldering the burden of the seven-day mandatory isolation period. The PM's argument, mounted from the warmth of Fiji where he was attending the Pacific Islands Forum - that there were good employers allowing COVID-infected people to work from home - was nonsense. How could a casual barista, shop assistant, hairdresser or builder's labourer work from home? You could almost feel the shudder down the collective spine of the Labor faithful. Here was their newly elected PM appearing to abandon the very people he championed in opposition. And worse, here was the PM apparently adrift from reality. Perhaps his momentary lapse in logic could be put down to all the travel - the hyperactive clean-up job in foreign affairs necessary after a decade of drift under the Coalition. But while he was getting in touch with Biden, Modi, Kishida, Widodo, NATO, Macron, Zelenskyy and the Pacific leaders, Albanese ran the risk of appearing out of touch with his own folk. And as his ministers lined up last week like human shields, repeating the mantra this was an inherited problem they could do nothing to fix, it seemed like our politics had reverted to the shabby state it was in under Morrison - full of doubletalk that made very little sense. Now he's back home, the PM opted for an urgent reset, not just of his own standing among voters but of COVID policy. The state and territory leaders were calling for it, some of his own MPs were calling for it and the poor casuals struggling to pay their way through COVID isolation - to pay the rent and put food on the table - were begging for it. Reason prevailed - let's not label it a backflip because in the end what matters is the right decision was made - and the payments will continue until September, the cost shared between the Commonwealth and states and territories. Yes, as the government said repeatedly before the change of heart, there is a mountain of debt inherited from the Morrison administration but why should the worse-off in society be expected to pay for it? Perhaps the big tax cuts for the wealthy, coming down the pipe in 2024-25, are a good place to start looking for savings. That might be a departure from a previously stated Albanese position but he could look to Nelson Mandela, who once said, "Unlike some politicians, I can admit to a mistake." If COVID has taught us anything, it is that we have to adapt to intercept the curve balls it throws our way. Being inflexible simply won't work. Anthony Albanese appears to have realised that. HAVE YOUR SAY: Is the honeymoon over for the Albanese government? Should the government reconsider the tax cuts for the wealthy due to kick in in 2024? Is the pandemic payment issue just a storm in a teacup? Email us: firstname.lastname@example.org SHARE THE LOVE: If you enjoy The Echidna, forward it to a friend so they can sign up, too. IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: - Donald Trump's first wife, Ivana, has passed away, aged 73. "I am very saddened to inform all of those that loved her, of which there are many, that Ivana Trump has passed away at her home in New York City," Donald Trump said in a post on the social medial platform Truth Social. - A decision on what type of nuclear submarine Australia will acquire as part of the AUKUS security pact will be unveiled in early 2023. Defence Minister Richard Marles said the federal government would look to announce whether Australia would use nuclear submarines from the US or UK in the first quarter of next year. - Police have executed search warrants as part of a major national operation to crack down on GST fraud. The warrants this week in relation to five suspected offenders in Sydney followed raids against 19 people last month in NSW, Victoria, Tasmania, SA, WA, and Queensland as part of Operation Protego. The Australian Tax Office-led serious financial crime task force has taken various forms of action in relation to 40,000 people suspected of being involved in GST fraud. THEY SAID IT: "Leadership is solving problems. The day soldiers stop bringing you their problems is the day you have stopped leading them. They have either lost confidence that you can help or concluded you do not care. Either case is a failure of leadership." - Colin Powell YOU SAID IT: We asked about former PMs on the public stage. Ian had this to say: "The effectiveness or otherwise of ex-prime ministers often reflects their value during their term(s) in office. The good ones understand they are there for the betterment of the populace and the country and often have something interesting to say in retirement. The 'also-ran' ones are either 'accidental' prime ministers, extremely lucky with what they inherited or more recently, morally, ethically or politically bankrupt due to self interest. These are the ones blaming other people or parties and had not an ounce of bipartisanship during their term(s) as prime minister." Ouch. Darryl said once they were out of office, they should be out of view and earshot too. "All politicians once they are defeated should get the hint that nobody wants to hear from them again and quietly disappear into the next stage of their lives." Dave said former PMs should continue to contribute. "Our former PMs are afforded a more than generous superannuation bonus and day to day benefits for their remaining years. To me this means they are still required serving the community. Julia Gillard is showing this public function. It should be a requirement for all former PMs to provide obvious and active input as much as they can in their latter years." Daniel, who said the echidna was his second favourite native animal after the wombat, weighed in: "It amazes me that people are prepared to listen to anything Morrison says, let alone actually pay him for it. Same goes for Boris Johnson who I read will go on the ultra-lucrative American speaking circuit. Can well understand why ex-pollies do it - money, money, money - but why on Earth or elsewhere do the punters willingly pay for their (cough, snort) words of wisdom?" David said former politicians should ride into the sunset. "Yes, prime ministers should leave the political arena as soon as they are defeated and Julia Gillard is the best example of this. But then, she was the best prime minister since Bob Hawke so it was expected of her."