Thursday, 31 December 2009

When push comes to shove for Liberal ladies - It's Eric Abetz who gets the blame.


The Tasmanian Senator featured in a Hobart Mercury report after a former Liberal Party candidate and  Miss Tasmania beauty Sue Hickey and Hobart lawyer and Hobart City Council alderman Elise Archer, the Liberal's star Denison candidate, clashed at a private function at the Taste of Tasmania.

Apparently there was a  bit of pushing and shoving between the ladies after Mrs Archer approached Ms Hickey at the function and, according to the Mercury, questioned an inference she had made regarding too many lawyers standing for State Parliament. Despite the conversation being conducted in private between the two women, it has been alleged it soon turned heated and involved both women claiming the other had swung an arm in a threatening manner. Witnesses included Hobart Deputy Mayor Helen Burnett and Margaret Valentine, the wife of Lord Mayor Rob Valentine. Ms Burnett, who is a Green candidate in the state election, then intervened but was allegedly told by Mrs Archer's husband and former Liberal Party state president Dale Archer to "f... off".
Just like a family Christmas function really but by the next day it was being reported as an example of the deep divisions existing between moderates and hard liners in the Tasmanian Liberal Party. Accusations are flying, said The Mercury, that conservative Liberal candidates such as Elise Archer, Jacquie Petrusma and Michael Ferguson are being favoured by party powerbrokers at the expense of more moderate candidates. "It's called favouritism; it's help in every way, it's being given the clear passage into Parliament by the party without any obstacles put in your way," a Liberal member said. "Sue Hickey is a prime example of another very good business person, a great Liberal candidate, being dragged down by the [Liberal Senator Eric] Abetz, Archer and Co clique."

With a State election just 12 weeks away, the Liberal Parliamentary Leader Will Hodgman was less than pleased that his colleagues were pushing the Sydney-Hobart yacht race down the news headlines in this way. A gag order was sent by phone text to all Liberal candidates forbidding them from talking to the media about divisions and the growing influence of the party's hard-right faction.


Media wrap - Abbott promises to turn back the boats



POLITICS AND ECONOMICS

Immigration

Tony Abbott pledges to turn asylum boats back – Tony Abbott says he will turn asylum-seeker boats back out to sea if the Coalition wins the next election, accusing Kevin Rudd of lacking the "steel" to fulfil his promise to do the same – The Australian

Tamils set down in Australia – Refugees off the Oceanic Viking have been welcomed to Australia by relatives in Melbourne and Sydney while six with family detained on Christmas Island were reunited there – Melbourne Age

Economic matters

Recovery to gather pace in new year – Major resource projects and a buoyant housing market will drive Australia's economy next year, offsetting the impact of the withdrawal of two key Rudd government stimulus measures – The Australian

War of words over cost of ETS to households – A row over the impact of Kevin Rudd's emissions trading scheme has erupted, with Tony Abbott claiming half of middle-income earners will be left worse off by higher electricity and gas prices. In reply, the government has accused the Opposition Leader of being "fraudulent" over his charge the scheme will cost households $1100 a year – The Australian

Abbott slams Labor ETS compensation – The claim that 2.9 million low-income households will be $190 a year better off under the proposed emissions trading scheme raises suspicions it is designed to be a ''political slush fund'' rather than a solution to climate change, according to Opposition Leader Tony Abbott – Melbourne Age

Secrecy

Government 'ignores' thousands of parliamentary questions – Thousands of parliamentary questions on notice, probing key portfolios have gone unanswered since the Rann Government came to power. The Government has been accused of creating a "secret state" and covering up facts by ignoring the queries, some of which date back to 2002. Since the Government entered office in March 2002, 2572 questions have been ignored - up from more than 1031 in 2007 – Adelaide Advertiser

Health and hospitals

One in 10 GPs set to retire – More than one in 10 GPs are set to quit their jobs in the next five years, prompting warnings of a "domino effect" leading to longer waiting lists – Adelaide Advertiser

Legislation

Work Choices headlines new year law reform – The  unwinding of John Howard's Work Choices, higher charges for couples using IVF treatment, the end of generous concessions for small business investment and the wind-down of the government's souped-up first-home buyers grant will take effect from tomorrow – The Australian

Elections

Baillieu pledge to end political ads – A new independent watchdog will crack down on politically motivated, taxpayer-funded government advertisements if the Coalition wins next year's state election – Melbourne Age

Industrial relations

Push for code of conduct for Queensland police - The outgoing chairman of Queensland's Crime and Misconduct Commission said the practice of police relying on the union to provide their legal defence compelled officers -- with little interest in industrial affairs -- to join – Brisbane Courier Mail

Opinions

Liberal plan would end the cycle of cynicism – Paul Austin in the Melbourne Age believes Ted Baillieu has come up with a good plan to cut back on taxpayer-funded government advertising - by taking the issue out of the hands of politicians such as Baillieu.

Laughter and jeers over ASIC failure – Matthew Stevens in The Australian writes that the corporate sheriff's conspicuous failure in its claims of dishonesty and more against Andrew Forrest and his Fortescue Metals was greeted both with frustrated agitation and subdued amusement around the halls of our equity markets' manager, ASX Ltd.

Bank on big changes at Australia Post – Danny John speculates in the Sydney Morning Herald about the future of Australia Post including the Rudd Government's election pitch to break up the big four's oligopoly; and an application for a deposit-taking licence with Bank@Post shedding its agency status as a conduit for other banks;

BUSINESS

China on the front foot in iron ore price negotiations – Redrawing China's battle lines in a bid to control iron ore term prices, a senior official with the China Iron and Steel Association yesterday warned of "a large degree of difficulty" in ongoing price talks because global miners want a 20-30 per cent increase in 2010 ore prices – The Australian

ENVIRONMENT

'Don't pander to greenies' – Environmental extremists would be the big winners from a proposal to make it easier for grassroots activists to tackle governments in the courts, a property development industry body has warned. The warnings, from Urban Taskforce Australia, come after one of the Rudd Government's key advisers recommended law changes to reduce the financial threat faced by community environment groups entering the legal system – Melbourne Age

LIFE

Security

Police guard for Commonwealth Games team in IndiaAustralia’s Commonwealth Games team will be protected by federal police for the first time next year as athletes admit terror fears have left them nervous about competing in IndiaBrisbane Courier Mail


Law and order

Medical groups warn dob-in doctor law will increase workloads, costsQueensland medical practitioners will be required to dob in colleagues suspected of misconduct under new legislation criticised by doctors' bodies – Brisbane Courier Mail

End of the road for car registration stickers - Cutting-edge technology being used by West Australian police has made car rego stickers redundant, saving millions of dollars. Police superintendent Lance Martin said hand-held computers were now providing officers with instant advice on registration expiries -- as well as an extraordinary amount of other data -- simply by tapping in a request – The Australian

Juvenile prisoners the most violent – The state's most violent prison is a young offenders facility where one in every two prisoners has been assaulted in the past three years – Sydney Morning Herald

Transport

Rail commuters rail against 'half-baked' myki smartcard ticketing system – Angry commuters have sent a barrage of complaints to transport operators as the $1.35 billion myki system continues to show cracks after two days – Melbourne Herald Sun

New train: catch it if you can – The Victorian State Government's public transport nightmare has worsened, with the unveiling of the first of a new generation of suburban trains that has been sent straight back to the workshop because of technical issues that could keep it off the tracks until February – Melbourne Herald Sun

Charities

Fraud squad police move on charities – The major fraud squad is investigating several charities in the state. Detective Superintendent Jim Jeffery, officer in charge of the Electronic Crime Branch, told The Adelaide Advertiser the major fraud investigations section was working with the Office of Liquor and Gambling and the Office of Consumer and Business Affairs. He would not name the charities.

Foreign aid

Fears gas project will fuel AIDS epidemic – A multibillion-dollar gas project in Papua New Guinea that will be partly funded by the Australian Government could lead to a million people becoming infected with the AIDS virus over the next decade, it has been claimed – Sydney Morning Herald

Privacy

Eavesdroppers target mobiles – Billions of mobile phone users around the world are at risk of having their calls intercepted and recorded after hackers broke the encryption used to protect 80 per cent of the world's mobiles – Melbourne Age

Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Media wrap - Hmong refugees are coming



POLITICS AND ECONOMICS

Immigration

Refugees fast-tracked to resettlement from Operation Viking rescue – Forty of the 78 asylum seekers rescued at sea by the Oceanic Viking will be resettled this week, with 16 heading to Australia – Sydney Daily Telegraph

Oceanic Viking asylum seekers arrive today - Sixteen asylum seekers from the Oceanic Viking will arrive in Australia today as the Rudd Government works frantically to ensure the bulk of the group are sent to other countries – The West Australian

Australia offers new home for expelled Hmong – Some of the 4000 Hmong asylum seekers forcibly expelled from refugee camps in Thailand back into Laos will be resettled in Australia within a month – Melbourne Age

Minister opens door to Hmong refugees – The federal government has condemned the forced repatriation of 4000 ethnic Hmong to their native Laos, saying Australia's doors are open to genuine refugees. The Australian

Twist as Tamil refugees arrive today – Sixteen Tamil refugees rescued by the Oceanic Viking will begin arriving in Australia today, six via the Christmas Island detention centre – The Australian

Security
AFP secrets undermine air safetyAustralia’s police commissioners have warned of dangerous gaps in airport security, accusing federal law enforcement agencies of failing to share vital criminal intelligence and undermining efforts to stamp out organised crime – The Australian

Economic matters

Low earners promised annual $190 green boost - Acting Climate Change Minister Peter Garrett will today announce that new modelling has revealed more than 630,000 low-income households in Queensland will benefit from the Government's carbon pollution reduction scheme – Brisbane Courier Mail

ETS cash bonus for millions of families – The Federal Government has hit back at claims its emissions trading scheme will substantially drive up the cost of living, releasing figures showing the scheme's household compensation package will leave low-income households an average of $190 a year better off – Sydney Morning Herald

Tax cuts needed to attract investors – Investors will keep bypassing South Australia and spend millions interstate unless the tax system is overhauled, industry leaders warn. In the wake of an Institute of Public Affairs study which found SA business is slugged with the highest tax bill in the nation, business leaders and developers have called for reform to payroll and land taxes – Adelaide Advertiser

Public service

Outrage as officials pocket $36m in bonuses despite crisis - The performance payments of up to $50,000 were handed to more than 13,000 federal public servants at the height of the financial crisis, while the Rudd Government was urging wage restraint in the private sector – Brisbane Courier Mail

Ensuite for Greg Koppenol relief after six-year toilet saga – Finally, Greg Koppenol, the Queensland judge who threatened legal action six years ago after not getting an office ensuite bathroom, has scored the personal porcelain he coveted. The Bligh Government has confirmed Judge Koppenol relocated just before Christmas to chambers at the new $92 million Ipswich District Courthouse - and they include an ensuite bathroom – Brisbane Courier Mail

Transport

Kosky takes the myki: no trams, buses, tickets – Only a tiny number of Melburnians will be able to use the $1.35 billion myki smartcard after Public Transport Minister Lynne Kosky yesterday launched the new ticket system for use on trains only. The Government failed to fulfil its promise, made in October, that myki would be available on trams and buses as well as trains by the end of 2009 – Melbourne Age

Aboriginal affairs

Some refusing jobs offered, says report – Some Aboriginal people are refusing to take jobs offered to them, the public servant heading one of the Northern Territory's main indigenous policies said – Northern Territory News

Welfare

Millions caught in welfare debt sting – Welfare recipients forced to pay back overpayments to Centrelink will be worse off from January 1 after the Government raised the repayment rate – Sydney Sunday Telegraph

Industrial relations

Julia Gillard protects aged-care nurses' pay – The Rudd government has intervened on behalf of thousands of low-paid aged-care nurses in NSW and Queensland who faced significant wage cuts as a result of Labor's revamp of the nation's award system – The Australian

Opinions

Research key to balancing pay equity with jobs growth – Ian Harper recalls his time as part-time chairman of the Australian Fair Pay Commission – Melbourne Age

The visionary we need right now - It's 200 years since governor Lachlan Macquarie arrived in Sydney, yet the challenges he faced are remarkably similar to those haunting Premier Kristina Keneally in NSW today, argues Michael Duffy in the Sydney Morning Herald. So what lessons could she learn from the state's finest leader?

A piece of democratic window dressing - Politicians have little to fear from the recall system in British Columbia, writes Richard Johnston in the Sydney Morning Herald

BUSINESS

Tourism back from precipice – The multi-billion-dollar tourism industry is expected to bounce back next year with the strongest growth in overseas arrivals since 2005 as the sector stages a better than expected recovery from the global economic crisis – The Australian

ENVIRONMENT

Murray River misses floodwater fillip – Very little of the 300 billion litres of water flooding central NSW will reach the Murray River but the hope is that now that the land is wet, another cyclone will bring the floods the parched river system desperately needs – The Australian

Toowoomba water worries washed away by new pipeline – After a divisive debate over recycled water and years of watching its dam levels dwindle, Toowoomba will soon have what it has been desperate for: water security – The Australian

LIFE

The drink

Liquor boss calls for new laws to get tough on drunks – The state's new Liquor and Gambling Commissioner wants the power to crack down on binge drinking and alcohol-fuelled violence in Adelaide's nightspots. Paul White has outlined the scope of an upcoming review of liquor licensing laws and also put pub and club operators "on notice", promising to develop a hit list of problem venues – Adelaide Advertiser

The beer with no pub – A plan to brew beer in the Territory after a 20-year drought is in doubt following a shock decision by the Licensing Commission. The commission gave permission for a micro-brewery and licensed restaurant to be opened on the outskirts of Darwin. But it disallowed an application for the project to include a money-spinning tavern and beer garden - or to sell takeaway alcohol – Northern Territory News

Equality

Defence salutes rare for women – Just 30 of the 537 most senior officers in the Australian Defence Force are women. An analysis of military staff numbers reveals the navy has the worst record of promoting women with a mere seven making it into the ranks of the top 145 officers – Sydney Daily Telegraph

Holidays

Tourism hit hard as travellers head for distant shores – The number of Australians choosing to leave Australia for their holidays will continue to outstrip the number of tourists arriving here, delivering yet another blow to an already embattled domestic tourism industry, forecasts show – Sydney Morning Herald

Development

Sydney, Melbourne can't handle growth targetsAustralia’s  biggest cities, Sydney and Melbourne, will be too dysfunctional by 2050 to reach projected populations of seven million unless their rail systems are quickly and radically overhauled – The Australian

Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Media wrap - Thank goodness for the sailing and the cricket!



POLITICS AND ECONOMICS

Economic matters

Cut in stamp duty on new homes extended – Cuts to the stamp duty levied by the State Government on new homes have been extended after intensive lobbying by the building industry – Sydney Morning Herald

$50m more for new home relief – The NSW Labor government has been able to offer an extra $50 million in stamp-duty concessions to buyers of new homes, but only because the flatlining housing-construction sector has meant fewer takers than expected for existing duty relief – The Australian

State taxes hit growth and jobsSouth Australia has eclipsed NSW as the nation's highest-taxing jurisdiction for business. And state taxes are frustrating federal infrastructure plans and impeding job creation – The Australian

States urged to review tax – The states have been urged to undertake their own Henry-style reviews of their tax systems and act on the findings, rather than blame Canberra for their economic woes. A string of business groups, including the Urban Development Institute of Australia, the Tourism Transport Forum, the Insurance Council and the Business Coalition for Tax Reform, slammed state taxes in their submissions to Ken Henry – The Australian

Immigration

Jakarta puts Kevin Rudd on notice over asylum-seekersIndonesia has put Kevin Rudd on notice that the special treatment offered to the 78 Tamils aboard the Oceanic Viking must be extended to the 255 Sri Lankans moored off the port of MerakThe Australian

Elections

Libs promise ad controls - Opposition Leader Ted Baillieu has promised more stringent controls over political advertising under a Coalition government but stopped short of sharing the full detail of his plan – Melbourne Age

Political parties

Nile party in an unholy row after by-election – Fred Nile’s Christian Democratic Party is in crisis following a disastrous showing at the Bradfield by-election, which has led to its campaign director facing expulsion, the resignations of its lead candidate and a high-profile deputy president, and a barrage of criticism from mainstream church groups – Sydney Morning Herald

Industrial relations

Labor 'ignores' building watchdog – Building industry watchdog John Lloyd has accused the Rudd government of freezing him out, saying Labor has failed to consult him on key changes to the role, responsibilities and powers of his office – The Australian

Abortion

Premier Bligh rejects bid for Queensland abortion reform – A push by doctors and pro-choice activists to have abortion decriminalised in Queensland has been formally refused – The Australian

Freedom of information

More freedom of information requests refused under Rudd than under Howard – Kevin Rudd's government has refused more freedom of information requests in its first full financial year of power than John Howard's did in its last full financial year in office despite Labor's stated program to increase transparency of public information. The annual report of the Freedom of Information Act, which was quietly released just before Christmas, shows that 1530 requests, or 6.09 per cent, were refused in the 12 months to June 30 – The Australian

Protest

Dying for a chat with Kevin Rudd – As his health begins to fail, protesting farmer Peter Spencer swore yesterday he would die before giving in to a Federal Government decision to make his farm a carbon sink – Sydney Daily Telegraph

Opinions

Did they say that? Traps for the sages and soothsayers – Gerard Henderson in the Sydney Morning Herald looks back at the year.

Contempt detonates Aussie-Arabic future – Piers Akerman in the Sydney Daily Telegraph writes how, with uncanny timing, The Sydney Morning Herald has gone in to bat for Keysar Trad, long-time sidekick of Lakemba’s notorious Muslim cleric Sheik Taj Din al-Hilaly, as a Nigerian would-be suicide bomber was dragged from a US plane after unsuccessfully trying to blow it from the skies. This is not to suggest that Trad or al-Hilaly were aware of the plot to bring down Northwest Airlines Amsterdam-Detroit flight, but rather that SMH writer David Marr overlooks salient points in his attempt to demonise 2GB broadcaster Alan Jones, who last week lost a minor defamation suit Trad brought against him and the station – Sydney Daily Telegraph

Foreign aid gifts' misleading message really gets my goat – Daniel Flitton in the Melbourne Age says cute marketing of charity presents could do more harm than good.

Bannon's vision condemned to dreams – David Nason in The Australian looks back at how the vision of former Premier John Bannon to lure business to SA with favourable taxes has ended up with SA the highest taxing state.

CPRS handouts will cost the country dearly – writes Henry Ergas in The Australian

Untried and untested, but in with a chance – Malcolm Colless believes recent Newspoll research, showing voters are increasingly concerned their standard of living will decline, has handed new Liberal leader Tony Abbott the perfect opportunity to start rebuilding the opposition's economic management credentials – The Australian

More evidence CO2 not culprit - Michael Asten, a professorial fellow in the school of geosciences at Monash University, Melbourne, writes in The Australian that the Copenhagen climate change summit closed two weeks ago in confusion, disagreement and, for some, disillusionment. When the political process shows such a lack of unanimity, it is pertinent to ask whether the science behind the politics is as settled as some participants maintain.

ENVIRONMENT

Time to paint Melbourne white: Robert Doyle – Forget painting the town red - Lord Mayor Robert Doyle wants Melbourne's roofs painted white. Cr Doyle believes slathering the tops of inner-city buildings with a white coating will make them cooler and more energy efficient – Melbourne Herald Sun

LIFE

Security

Federal police to take over airports – The Australian Federal Police will take control of security at the nation's 11 busiest airports within three to five years under a plan to prevent understaffing at terminals and duplication of services by state and federal agencies – Sydney Morning Herald

Tough new airport check-in rules – Passengers heading to the US lined up at Sydney Airport yesterday ready for tough new checks, including mandatory physical pat downs and inspections of all hand luggage – Sydney Daily Telegraph

Drugs

$4m to track death by drugs - The Illicit Drug Reporting System operated by the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre at the University of NSW has been given $747,000 over three years to collect data on street-level drug trends – Sydney Daily Telegraph

Child support

$1b in deadbeat parents debt - The child support debt has grown by 12.8 per cent despite a 20 per cent increase in child support agency staff and a $900 million funding boost to help the agency improve the system. The Government's finance watchdog, the Auditor-General, was highly critical of the Child Support Agency in a new report, which revealed almost 400,000 parents are not getting proper child support – Sydney Daily Telegraph

Development

City development - it's make or break time – Adelaide faces a "make or break" year and must deliver on major projects to revitalise the city centre, a leading architect warns – Adelaide Advertiser

Housing

Housing crisis tipped in new year as demand outstrips supply – A decade of unprecedented population growth in Queensland will leave a chronic shortfall of 50,000 houses by the middle of next year. The shortfall is likely to present the state with significant problems as demand continues to outstrip supply and first-home buyers risk being priced out of the market – Brisbane Courier Mail

Charity

Cancer foundation gives away just $5900 – Less than one cent in every dollar raised by an Adelaide charity has gone to its intended cause in its first two financial years, documents show. The Adelaide-based National Cancer Research Foundation last year picked up $387,864 in donations but gave just $4900 away, according to its audited profit and loss statements – Adelaide Advertiser

Transport

Plane safety compromised, says union – Safety inspections and repair work on large Australian passenger planes could be carried out by someone with less than one month's training under new air safety rules, aircraft engineers have warned – Sydney Morning Herald

Education

PM Kevin Rudd backs ANU's China centre – Kevin Rudd is throwing his weight - and up to $100 million of taxpayer funds over 10 years - behind the Australian National University's thrust to create the world's leading research centre on ChinaThe Australian

Monday, 28 December 2009

Media wrap - Waiting for a hospital bed in Queensland



POLITICS AND ECONOMICS

Health and hospitals

Elective surgery wait shows health sector still unwell – Almost 200 Queenslanders have been waiting more than five years to have elective surgery. The 183 patients have conditions classified as "non-urgent" but under Queensland Health guidelines should still have had their operations within 12 months – Brisbane Courier Mail

Mentally ill face long wait in emergency care – Mentally ill Victorians who should be in psychiatric care spend up to four days in emergency departments because of a shortage of beds – Melbourne Age

Elections

Taxpayers 'funding Labor ads' - The Opposition is demanding tougher rules against using public money for political gain as the Government spends more than $10 million on TV advertisements and mass mail-outs to promote its performance in the sensitive areas of hospitals, schools, roads and public transport – Melbourne Age

Administration

Government covers mistakes with secret payouts – Secret hand-outs to cover up Federal Government mistakes or incompetence are costing taxpayers millions of dollars. Australian Government departments have authorised more than $5.5 million in confidential "act of grace" payments to citizens in the past two years, documents have revealed – Brisbane Courier Mail

Watchdog 'oblivious' to database flaw – The Government auditor says the communications watchdog was oblivious to a security flaw in the Do Not Call register database, which contains the phone numbers of nearly 4 million Australians. It also found that a better education program is needed to reduce the number of people on the list making complaints about getting calls the list cannot stop, such as from charities – Melbourne Age

Taxes

Tax shift urged to stub out smoking – Doctors are urging the State Government to seize control of cigarette taxes from Canberra and push up the price to $20 a pack.  A plan put forward by Victorian doctors aims to price smokers and children out of the deadly habit by doubling the cost of cigarettes over the next three years in line with recommendations of the Preventative Health Taskforce – Melbourne Herald Sun

Opinions

Labor stripped bare as defender of women's rights – Catherine Sheehan in the Melbourne Herald Sun

Women are swimming to Abbott – If new Opposition leader Tony Abbott has such a problem with women, how come I'm yet to meet a woman who has that problem with him? For heaven's sake, even Julia Gillard likes the guy writes Sally Morell in the Melbourne Herald Sun

Neglect of food sources has the chooks coming home to roost – Paul Sheehan in the Sydney Morning Herald concludes that if Australia's population keeps growing at a rate of 1.2 million people every three years, and the Murray-Darling Basin continues to degrade, and the arid zone continues to expand, and cheap imported food continues to out-compete local product, Australia will become a net importer of food sooner rather than later. Hard to imagine, but inevitable on present trends.

Whatever happened to secular democracy? – asks Ross Fitzgerald in The Australian. Not only have we now got a devout believer as Prime Minister but the Opposition Leader is even more devout.

No victor in fight over inflammatory talkback - Alan Jones's legal case over anti-Lebanese comments has been lost, but inflammatory jocks might not change their tune, writes David Marr in the Sydney Morning Herald

ENVIRONMENT

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd soft on Japanese whale slaughter – The Rudd Government has reneged on a promise to send an Australian ship to monitor Japan's annual slaughter of 1000 minke, humpback and fin whales – Sydney Daily Telegraph

Ferals in peril as croc prof calls for buff cull - Professor Grahame Webb, who owns Crocodylus Park in Darwin, said his 30-year research had shown an increase of the hard-hoofed animals. He said more resources should be put into land management to preserve the delicate ecosystem in the Top End – Northern Territory News

Radioactive waterfront home to be razed – New plans to clean up the site of a former uranium smelter in Hunters Hill mean a four-storey waterfront mansion the NSW Government has repeatedly declared safe will be demolished – Sydney Morning Herald

MEDIA

Schools cut cord in technology revolution – SA  high school classrooms will be completely wireless by the end of 2011. The hi-tech investment - part of the Rudd Government's $94 million Digital Education Revolution  - will allow students and teachers to use laptops and handheld internet devices from anywhere within the state's 165 public high schools – Adelaide Advertiser

LIFE

Law and order

Rumours of singing jailbird set legal tongues wagging – John Silvester in the Melbourne Age gives some fascinating gossip about goings on in Victoria’s criminal world.

Emma to become a faceless statistic - The kindness and talents of the pretty 12-year-old who had all her life ahead of her have touched hearts across Sydney. But soon she will be just a nameless, faceless victim. A little known law means that if her neighbour Renzo Da-Pra, 45, is charged with her killing, Emma cannot be identified. It also means her alleged killer's name is likely to be suppressed to further protect Emma's identity – Sydney Daily Telegraph

Gangs' casino dole scam – Crime gangs are using pensioners and the unemployed to launder millions in dirty money through casinos, authorities believe.  Centrelink has alerted organised-crime investigators to 15 clients it believes are involved. They are understood to include a Victorian man who bought almost $13 million in chips at Crown, despite being on the dole – Melbourne Herald Sun

ASIO eyes mystery group after attempt to buy sub – The spy agency ASIO has investigated a bizarre attempt by a mystery group to purchase a derelict former Royal Australian Navy submarine and take it back to sea – The Australian

The drink

Alcohol summit to sober up NRL - The NRL is visiting each of the 16 clubs, asking players for advice on how best to deal with the issue of alcohol abuse. A brainchild of the Australian Drug Foundation (ADF) – Sydney Daily Telegraph

Fun police kneejerk to spoil NYE - The mindless actions of relatively few, mostly young, revellers in years past means tens of thousands of sensible, responsible drinkers will be banned from bringing wine and other alcohol to many of the best vantage points around Sydney Harbour – Sydney Daily Telegraph

Boozy New Year's Eve crowd in Melbourne feared - A CBD residents' group is worried police and security will struggle to control the amount of alcohol drunk by revellers scattered across the city on New Year's Eve – Melbourne Herald Sun

Retirement

Tidal wave of retirees threatens to break the bankAustralia is on the crest of a demographic tsunami, with the first wave of 5.3 million baby boomers eligible for the age pension from next week – Brisbane Courier Mail

Sunday, 27 December 2009

Media wrap - A boat race and cricket fill a news vacuum


POLITICS AND ECONOMICS


Political lurks and perks

Jetsetting MPs' Tour de Farce - Dictator Robert Mugabe is "forward-thinking", the Islamist paramilitary organisation Hezbollah is "not radical" and chickens in Thailand are scrawny. These are among the startling findings of $4.9 million in taxpayer-funded political study tours. Federal MPs spent the record sum in just six months of globetrotting to June 30 this year, visiting 31 countries to "investigate" everything from the global financial crisis to Mekong River hill tribes and upmarket boutiques in MilanSydney Sunday Telegraph

Economic matters

Debt level enters danger zone - Reserve Bank figures show personal debt now equates to 100.4 per cent of Australia's annual GDP, one of the highest ratios in the developed world – Brisbane Sunday Mail

Women urged to learn male trades – Women hold the key to unlocking WA's next mining boom. Training Minister Peter Collier said women would be guided into male-dominated trades - including construction - as part of a new strategy – Perth Sunday Times

The only way is up for cost of living in the new year – Electricity, gas, water and public transport costs will all increase in 2010, while the average grocery shop will make a bigger dent in the family budget – Sydney Sun Herald

$245m pokies shortfall on cards – The Victorian Government is facing a budget black hole of at least a quarter of a billion dollars because it is unlikely to sell all the poker machines it has available, according to a gaming industry expert – Melbourne Sunday Age

Development

Secret heritage protection list – Up to 431 properties in Adelaide's CBD - including the Crazy Horse in Hindley St - have been placed on a secret list that recommends local heritage protection. The list has been prepared by Adelaide City Council, which is pushing for a 50 per cent increase in the number of heritage-listed properties in the CBD to prevent developers from knocking down ageing buildings of interest – Adelaide Sunday Mail

Opinions

Riddle of Rudd's incredible popularity – Piers Akerman in the Sydney Sunday Telegraph ponders how one of the year's intriguing mysteries remains the source of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's popularity when there is no evidentiary reason for the continuing level of public support he enjoys.

Ms Redmond must really have them rattled – Lainie Anderson in the Adelaide Sunday Mail questions why the SA Labor Party has started dropping the title Leader of the Opposition and now refers to the Liberal Party Leader as Mrs Redmond

Australia looms large - The economy has much better prospects than it did a year ago writes Jan McCallum in the Melbourne Sunday Age

All bets are off in an election year – Paul Daley in the Melbourne Sunday Age has a go at being humorous with some predictions about the next political year.

BUSINESS

Foreign students pay public schools $40m – Overseas students are paying more than $40 million in tuition fees each year to attend public schools in NSW – Sydney Sunday Telegraph

Flood of cheap wine sours local industry – Australian wine producers are finding it hard to swallow the glut of cheap reds and whites, many retailing for as little as $1.99 a bottle, flooding the market – Melbourne Sunday Age

MEDIA

Radio Australia to cull sport news – The ABC's international broadcaster, Radio Australia, is terminating its sports bulletins following a sexual harassment dispute involving the department's manager and its only dedicated sports reporter alleges a story in the Melbourne Sunday Age written by a former ABC radio reporter who resigned earlier this year after a dispute with ABC management.

LIFE

The drink

Booze ban bottles up New Year spirit – New Year's Eve is expected to be the soberest on record, with councils across the State banning alcohol from parks and harbourside beaches – Sydney Sunday Telegraph

Days of duty-free booze may be over – Australian travellers will be the unwitting losers under a radical proposal to abolish duty-free alcohol. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has recommended the sale of duty-free wines and spirits be banned – Sydney Sunday Telegraph

Law and order

Smile for the $1m camera – A lone red-light camera has collected more than $1 million in fines for the NSW Government, snaring a record 50 drivers every week – Sydney Sunday Telegraph

Figures show big jump in prison assaults – A spike in the number of assaults in prisons has prompted fears of a major incident in the state's overcrowded jails this summer – Perth Sunday Times

Shot three times in front of family – Police were rushing a Taser stun gun to a Central Coast home when officers gunned down a knife-wielding man in front of his family on Christmas Day. Ian Cowie, who had a mental illness, died in Gosford Hospital after being shot three times by police inside his Lisarow home – Sydney Sun Herald

Education

Centre to tame violent Preps – Children as young as four who are too violent to teach will be sent to Queensland's first behaviour school for Prep students. The trial centre will open in January and comes as primary teachers complain of being hit, kicked and sworn at. Experts say the epidemic of broken families and substance abuse in the home is fuelling the anger and volatile behaviour in young children – Brisbane Sunday Mail

Teachers paid to quit school – Hundreds of bored, stressed or unhappy teachers have jumped at the chance to apply for a payout to leave their jobs, despite applications for the new exit option being open for less than a month – Melbourne Sunday Age

Privacy

Patient records accessible - New guidelines, released by the National Health and Medical Research Council last week in response to changes in the Privacy Act, allow doctors to inform relatives of their genetic predisposition to an inherited disorder. The guidelines have been developed to cover situations where family members may have had a falling out and no longer communicate – Brisbane Sunday Mail

Adoption

Overseas adoptions halted – Desperate families seeking to adopt children from overseas have been dealt a blow after the Attorney-General's Department halted Australia's largest international adoption program. Frustrated adoption groups claim steps taken by the Rudd Government to free up adoption processes have instead buried it under another layer of red tape – Sydney Sun Herald

Saturday, 26 December 2009

Media wrap - Australians get wealthier


POLITICS AND ECONOMICS


Economic matters

Surge in wealth as markets bounce back – Australians have enjoyed the fastest growth in household wealth for more than a generation, as the rebound on stock markets has given back almost half the money people lost in the global financial crisis. Financial accounts issued by the Bureau of Statistics on Christmas Eve show that even excluding real estate, households' net financial assets shot up by a record $147 billion or 17 per cent in the September quarter alone – Melbourne Age

Income tax overhaul off agenda – Across-the-board income tax cuts are off Labor's agenda as the Henry review looks instead to ease the burden on individual taxpayers by simplifying returns and reducing churn in the tax and family payment systems – The Australian

Treasurer Wayne Swan quizzed on tax report secrecy – The Coalition is demanding Treasurer Wayne Swan immediately reveal the contents of the landmark 18-month inquiry into Australia's tax and welfare system – Brisbane Courier Mail

Health and hospitals

Surgery payment scheme at risk – The ability of patients to claim a Medicare rebate directly from the doctor's surgery is under threat within months of it starting to catch on, as medical groups are warning that GPs will abandon the practice unless incentive payments are extended – The Australian

Aboriginal affairs

Noel Pearson slams black housing – Cape York leader Noel Pearson has called on the Rudd government to urgently realign its policies on Aboriginal housing, predicting that the many billions currently being spent on building public housing in remote communities will result in wastage on an enormous scale and little improvement in the livelihoods of indigenous people – The Australian

At home on the ranger programThe Australian looks at the success of the Jarlmadangah ranger project that involves caring for country, eradicating feral animals such as pigs, dogs and cats, back-burning to minimise the threat of bushfire and discovering and maintaining sacred sites.

Immigration

Australia urged to aid boat people – The death of a Tamil man who had been aboard a boat moored at Merak in Indonesia has prompted renewed calls for Australia to help strike a deal to resettle the 246 people on board – Melbourne Age

Experts back transfer of Afghans – Legal and mental health experts have backed the transfer of 30 young Afghan asylum seekers to Melbourne from the Christmas Island detention centre, and questioned the continued policy of processing unaccompanied minors offshore – Melbourne Age

Opposition

Liberal team misfiring – The Adelaide Advertiser reviews the performance of the state Opposition.

Political life

Catholics divided in the House – The Catholic Church, traditionally a Labor heartland, is fast colonising the Liberal Party. A Sydney Morning Herald analysis shows as many Catholics on the front bench of the Federal Opposition as that of the Government.

Kevin Rudd's politics of piety put on parade – Christmas is a good time to consider Kevin Rudd, a Prime Minister who sends a cheerio to the people "in the 'burbs" in his season's message – Brisbane Courier Mail

Opinions

Howard's tax cuts frustrate Rudd's reforms – George Megalogenis in The Australian points out how matching the Liberal tax cuts at the last election limited Labor’s options,

Union link gives Labor an edge – Peter van Onselen writes in The Australian that despite the long-term decline in the percentage of workers signed up to unions in this country, the significant role they play in the running of the Australian Labor Party has endured. While the Coalition likes to hit Labor over the head with the notion that it is controlled by unions, implying when doing so that Labor is not a party of mainstream voters, the fact is the strong base unions provide has turned modern Labor into the natural party of government.

US alliance system is only security that works – This was the year the multilateral system, such as it is, broke down. Definitively. The Copenhagen climate fiasco was bad news if you think the planet is warming and urgent action is required. It was also bad news if you think the globe needs effective management of big issues. It gave us a glimpse into where we go if we are deprived of US leadership. The answer is: we go nowhere. And that's if we're lucky – Greg Sheridan in The Australian

Failure a path to new goals - Peter Anderson, chief executive of the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, writes in The Australian that a good, practical start for the next attempt at global warming policy would be for the tax review by Treasury head Ken Henry to recommend incentives for research, innovation and technology substitution. That's something we can do without waiting for other nations, at low risk and potentially big gain.

Politics and religion: crossed paths - We pay lip service to separation of church and state, reports David Marr in the Sydney Morning Herald, but we really don't give a toss about politicians parading as Christians.

Life's trade-offs in 10 easy principles – Ross Gittins in the Sydney Morning Herald gives a never-to-be-repeated holiday special: all you need to know about economics in 10 easy steps.

Great oratory is a beautiful thing, then there is the rest … Richard Ackland in the Sydney Morning Herald gives a selection of the best starting with: It was precisely a year ago that Malcolm Turnbull, then leader of the Opposition, said something that must now stick in his gullet as horribly as it lodged in ours - ''Kevin Andrews is a first-class intellect with an impressive capacity to get across a huge amount of policy detail'' - and with a sweep of his paw appointed Kev to head the Coalition's ''policy'' unit.

BUSINESS

False start for retail's online revolution - Frerk-Malte Feller, Australian managing director of online payments processor PayPal, partly attributes the poor early performance of internet retailing in Australia to the lack of a traditional catalogue retailing market as seen in the US and Britain, where consumers have long been accustomed to shopping by mail – The Australian

Demand propels take-off in air fares – Airlines are expected to continue to push up ticket prices amid strong demand from holidaymakers, helping the ailing industry to recover from one of the worst downturns in its history – Sydney Morning Herald

Academics question ASIC's ability – The Australian Securities and Investments Commission's recent record of failed prosecutions has prompted calls for fundamental reforms to cut back on giant legal cases. After failures in cases against Jodee Rich, Andrew Lindberg and Andrew Forrest, academics have questioned ASIC's ability to conduct such complex litigation – Melbourne Age

Trinity settles on Ross Daley fee – One of the biggest corporate mysteries to intrigue the Queensland business community this year, the payment of a $1 million fee by property group Trinity to lobbyist Ross Daley, has finally been settled – Brisbane Courier Mail

ENVIRONMENT

Passengers will pay for carbon, airlines warn – Domestic air travellers face higher fares to cover the cost of airlines' greenhouse gas emissions - estimated at $100 million or more - if the Federal Government's emissions trading scheme is passed by Parliament next year, leading airlines warn – Melbourne Age

Fears of another plague of rabbits – Scientists are considering new strains of the calicivirus to combat rising rabbit numbers, after warnings that Australia is on the brink of a rabbit plague – Melbourne Age

AC/DC Austrian concert in doubt over rare bird risk – Aussie rockers AC/DC could have to cancel a sold-out concert because their big sound poses a danger to rare birds – Sydney Daily Telegraph

Sea Shepherd's hi-tech weaponry to harass whalers – The high seas battle between Japanese whalers and the Sea Shepherd conservation group has gone hi-tech with the use of a military grade laser, a stealth ship and sonic cannons – Sydney Daily Telegraph

Government won't help homeowners on eroding beachfronts – Property owners in areas predicted to be affected by a rising sea level are unlikely to receive much help from the State Government if water threatens their homes – Adelaide Advertiser

MacTiernan queries ALP U-mining ban - High-profile Labor frontbencher Alannah MacTiernan has broken with the State ALP's total ban on uranium mining, calling for the issue to be put back on the table in response to climate change concerns – The West Australian

Anger over Browse Basin deal - Conservationists yesterday branded Resources Minister Martin Ferguson a bully and accused him of "meddling with proper process" over a plan to develop a $30 billion LNG operation in the Kimberley – The West Australian

LIFE

Education

School fees hit record highs – Payment plans are being introduced to help parents meet the soaring cost of private schooling as fees pass $26,000 for the first time in Sydney. Private schools are raising their fees by as much as five times the inflation rate of 1.3 per cent - this despite a 32 per cent increase in federal funding, which will exceed $26 billion over four years – Sydney Morning Herald

Real estate

More first home buyers rely on parents' help – Young Australians are increasingly looking to their parents for help when saving for their first home – Sydney Morning Herald

Housing tipped to rise 5% … … but the doomsayers disagree. Kim Christian in the Sydney Morning Herald seeks the good oil on residential property prices.

Babies

Families IVF rush over fee hike – Couples desperate for a baby are rushing to have embryos implanted before Medicare rebates are slashed - adding thousands of dollars to the cost of their IVF treatments – Sydney Daily Telegraph

Law and order

Murder accused Graham Stafford closer to compensation payoutQueensland taxpayers face a massive compensation bill as prosecutors decide whether to retry Graham Stafford for the murder of Goodna schoolgirl Leanne Holland - a crime for which he spent 15 years in jail – Brisbane Courier Mail