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
's tax and welfare system – Brisbane Courier Mail Australia
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
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 program – The 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.
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
Liberal team misfiring – The Adelaide Advertiser reviews the performance of the state Opposition.
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
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
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 Copenhagen leadership. The answer is: we go nowhere. And that's if we're lucky – Greg Sheridan in The Australian US
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.
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
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 Queensland
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
is on the brink of a rabbit plague – Melbourne Age Australia
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
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
. 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 Sydney
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.
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 payout –