Has Leigh left the building?

Leigh Sales has already announced that she will be out of the ABC’s 7.30 host’s chair after the May federal election is done and dusted.

But, as the Media Glass House research teams assigned to analysing 7.30 each night have been asking themselves, has she already started to put her feet up and taken her eyes off the ball?

Consider her intro on Tuesday night to the first part of a special two-part report by finance and economics guru Alan Kohler.

Sales set the scene for viewers by saying: “Australia’s increase in cost of living will be front of mind when voters head to the polls. Inflation has come roaring back into the economy, after years of sitting below the reserve bank’s target. Inflation is how much things cost. During the next two nights Alan Kohler examines ….”

Thanks Leigh, let’s end it there. Did you catch the third line she read out?

“Inflation is how much things cost,” is what she said.

Our MGH researchers say Sales got it badly wrong. They maintain that inflation is not how much things cost. That, they say, is prices or costs.

Inflation is a measure of how much prices or costs are rising. It’s a rate, a percentage usually measured and expressed over a period such as a year.

Our researchers dug up some definitions all of which confirm that inflation is a measure of how much prices are rising or, to put it another way, how much purchasing power is declining.

Even the Reserve Bank of Australia’s website says: “Inflation is an increase in the level of prices of the goods and services that households buy. It is measured as the rate of change of those prices.”

So there, Leigh!

But wait, what did Alan Kohler say at the start of the report that Sales had just introduced?

“Australia is getting its first bout of proper inflation in 40 years,” he began. “Inflation measures the cost of living. And while the official stats are not fully showing it yet, most of the everyday things we buy are starting to get more expensive.”

Isn’t “Inflation measures the cost of living” just as bad as what Leigh Sales said?

Kohler went on to say soon after: “Inflation is simply rising prices calculated by statisticians, using a basket of things that you and I normally buy.”

Our MGH researchers reckon that line suggests Alan was almost there. All he needed was to use the word “rate” somewhere appropriate.

How about “Inflation is simply the rate at which prices are rising….”? Easy.

Our MGH teams suggest these glaring misinterpretations of a very basic and simple economic concept by two of the ABC’s biggest stars hint at a possible bigger problem.

Did Leigh Sales pen her own intro, or did she just cut and paste some of the early words in Kohler’s script?

Worse still, did she just read what some underling not as experienced as her wrote for her to parrot?

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ABC News Breakfast co-host Lisa Millar made the very relevant point this morning that hospital problems such as ambulance ramping are still ongoing in South Australia.

SA Premier Peter Malinauskas who was sworn into office on Monday is expected to announce his resignation shortly.