Australia's tourism minister, Fran Bailey, was in town last week, and as usual, she was a treat. Mostly she sang the country's praises, but we were even more fascinated by her enthusiasm for more flights between Australia and North America. (The fact that it's a long flight is nothing anyone can do anything about; the price of the fare, however, is something else altogether.) Unlike some folks in the government, she fully supports competition with Australia's national airline, Qantas. Let's hope she has some sway. Evidently low-fare upstart Virgin Blue is trying to get flights okayed between the western U.S. and Sydney. If approved it won't happen for a few years, but that'd be a good day, indeed.