Sunday, 31 January 2010

Media wrap - A good old fashioned murder with a sex theme dominates the papers


POLITICS AND ECONOMICS

Elections

Election campaign set to be long one – The Brumby Government will swing into election mode immediately after September's AFL grand final, making this year's state election campaign at least two months long, according to a leaked Labor document – Melbourne Sunday Age

Political life

Barry O'Farrell - the man labouring to be Premier - During a day in the life of the State's next likely Premier, Claire Harvey discovers he still indulges the occasional guilty pleasure - such as his love of a fat-free bitchy anecdote. The nice man of NSW politics has a gossipy streak and a sharp tongue – Sydney Sunday Telegraph

Brisbane Airport billboard banned for being too political – Tension between Queensland and New South Wales became even more strained yesterday when Queensland officials not only banned an advertising billboard for being too political, but demanded the NSW lobby group pay the $25,000 fee for booking it – Brisbane Sunday Mail

Political lurks and perks

MPs dodge travel 'ban' – Victorian politicians are using money from their electorate offices to pay for overseas trips – Melbourne Sunday Herald Sun

Interest rates

Banks to toe line on rates – The big four banks are set to bow to political and consumer pressure and pass on to borrowers all of the 0.25 percentage point interest rate rise expected to be struck by the Reserve Bank board at its meeting on Tuesday – Melbourne Age

Banks get set for battle over interest rates - The first shot in the big banks' battle to woo back disillusioned customers has been fired, with the National Bank of Australia ruling out an independent increase in home loan rates – Sydney Sun Herald

Education

Julia Gillard will not bow to unions – Deputy Prime Minister and Education Minister Julia Gillard has warned teachers not to undermine the Federal Government's My School website – Brisbane Sunday Mail

Gillard's My School warning – Education  Education Minister Julia Gillard has warned teachers she won't tolerate attempts to sabotage the controversial My School website – Adelaide Sunday Mail

Journeys against odds discovered on My Schools website - Broadmeadows Primary School principal Keith McDougall has heard all the excuses for academic failure in his 23 years in the job, and accepts none. While his students are among the poorest in the state, their literacy and numeracy skills are at least as good as those of average students – Melbourne Sunday Age

Teachers slam index comparisons - Some of the most elite private schools have been classed as comparable to regional public schools on the controversial My School website, in a move teachers say is another sign that the website is deeply flawed – Melbourne Sunday Age

Being labelled worst still causes pain - Dianne Pyne has seen firsthand the suffering that comes from being labelled the worst school in NSW and she was depressed and disappointed to see ranking tables appear last week. Mrs Pyne is one of two teachers still at Chifley College which, as Mount Druitt High School 13 years ago, was branded the ''Class We Failed'' by The Daily Telegraph – Sydney Sun Herald

Parents rush to switch schools after My School website goes live – Parents rocked by the My School website have already begun pulling their children out of poorly performing schools – Sydney Sunday Telegraph

Catholic schools force religion as TEE subject – Catholic schools are forcing Year 12 students to sit a TEE religion subject that will count towards their university entrance score. Outraged parents are taking their children out of Catholic schools because they believe the now mandatory Religion and Life subject will create an unfair workload on students – Perthy Sunday Times

Foreign relations

Indonesia deports refugee activists – Australian refugee activists have returned to Australia in anger after being detained and deported for alleged trespassing near an asylum seeker boat in Merak, IndonesiaMelbourne Age

Deported over mercy mission - Two Australian refugee activists who were deported by Indonesia for trying to resolve the Merak asylum-seeker boat crisis arrived in Sydney yesterday – Sydney Sun Herald

Development

ICAC inquiry probes Keneally, Sartor - Independent Commission Against Corruption has questioned Premier Kristina Keneally and Environment Minister Frank Sartor over their connections with business associates of murdered Sydney standover man Michael McGurk – Sydney Sunday Telegraph

Civil liberties

Stop and search under threat – The Nationals are threatening to derail controversial police stop and search powers. In another blow to the state's Liberal-National Alliance Government, Nationals MPs say the laws infringe on civil liberties, putting law and order above people's rights. They hold the balance of power in the Upper House – Perth Sunday Times

Police

Silence on top cop – The State Government is not buying into reports that suspended police commissioner Jack Johnston is about to retire – Sunday Tasmanian

Opinions

Back to the future - Issues of health and climate change are forcing politicians to think beyond the short term writes Michelle Grattan in the Melbourne Sunday Age

High-quality care for the elderly is a human rights issue – Beth Wilson in the Melbourne Sunday Age says nursing home residents deserve better services; more staff would be a good start.

Title fight - Rudd vs Abbott - This year's election will be dominated by two forces; personality and the dynamics of counter-intuitive economics writes Glenn Milne in the Sydney Sunday Telegraph

Kevin Rudd feels the heat on global warming – Piers Akerman writes in the Sydney Sunday Telegraph that Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, the man who said he would never “knowingly” tell a lie, should begin the new Parliamentary session Tuesday with a few admissions of deceit.

Airing the dirty linen: smells like teen spirit – Tony Abbott has reminded Claire Harvey, who writes in the Sydney Sunday Telegraph, of the hideous stench in her brother’s bedroom.

BUSINESS

Toyota recall hits 7.7m cars worldwide – Japanese automaker Toyota has ordered a new mass recall, pulling up to 1.8 million vehicles from Europe, as rival Honda recalled 646,000 of its cars worldwide – Melbourne Sunday Age

Chinese New Year brings goods news for Queensland tourism – Tourism operators are gearing up for a roaring Chinese New Year with early travel bookings showing a strong revival in visitors from China visiting Queensland to celebrate the Year of the Tiger – Brisbane Sunday Mail

ENVIRONMENT

Desal plant won't help River MurrayAdelaide’s addiction to the River Murray is set to increase - even after the $1.83 billion desalination plant starts operating. This is despite the State Government saying the plant will reduce pressure on the ailing waterway – Adelaide Sunday Mail

MEDIA

I've beaten myself up over this, says sober and sorry groper Chris Smith – A now sober 2GB announcer, Chris Smith, is ready to face his listeners. Smith, who was close to losing his family and lucrative talkback job after his drunken Christmas party antics, returns to air tomorrow afternoon – Sydney Sunday Telegraph

LIFE

Road safety

Loophole puts P-platers into fast cars – P-Platers are driving powerful high-performance cars despite VicRoads regulations intended to ban them from the potentially dangerous vehicles – Melbourne Sunday Age

Police sit still over tailgaters - offence not a priority, they say – It’s the most common offence on NSW roads, accounting for 40 per cent of accidents and one in four P-plate crashes, but police say cracking down on tailgating is not a priority – Sydney Sunday Telegraph

Call for roadworthy tests to curb bad bikes on Queensland roads – Forks on backwards, brakes down to the metal and flat tyres are just some of the dangerous conditions cyclists in Queensland take on to the road, says a bike mechanic calling for compulsory roadworthy certificates – Brisbane Sunday Mail

Shock ad aims to cut road deaths - The Motor Accident Commission has put together a series of sombre images in a television ad with this plea to motorists: "Please . . . stay alert. And drive with care. Because road safety depends on you." – Adelaide Sunday Mail

Drugs and drink

Drug and alcohol unit expanded - The NSW Government has acknowledged the roles mental illness and domestic violence play in parental drug and alcohol abuse by expanding the Community Services Drug and Alcohol Specialist Unit – Sydney Sun Herald

Lunch

Schools' banned food list has gone nuts – Schools have banned lunchbox staples such as egg, mayonnaise, Nutella, peanut butter, kiwi fruit and bananas to protect a handful of students with severe food allergies – Sydney Sunday Telegraph

Real estate

No hope for Aussie homebuyers as thousands struggle to foot the mortgage bill – Almost half the first-home buyers lured into the market by the Rudd government's $14,000 grant are struggling to meet their mortgage repayments and many are already in arrears on their loans – Sydney Sunday Telegraph

Who's afraid of the big, bad banks? – Talk of further interest rate rises didn't deter the buyers of a three-bedroom Wayville home that sold well above its reserve price at auction on Saturday – Adelaide Sunday Mail

Torchlight land sales a big success – Territorians gathered from 5am to snap up a block of land in the Top End's newest subdivision. And the 49 blocks of land in the Johnston estate in Palmerston were all sold - by torchlight - in about two hours from when the doors opened at 9am – Sunday Territorian

The punt

NSW gambling's record lotteries profits - NSW residents tried to gamble their way out of the global financial crisis, producing record profits for the soon-to-be-privatised NSW Lotteries – Sydney Sunday Telegraph

The fat

Queensland Children's Hospital set to tackle obesity crisis – The first obesity clinic to deal with seriously overweight children and young adults will be a part of the new Queensland Children's Hospital – Brisbane Sunday Mail

The sex

Kids' sex talk rocks teachers – Teachers are overhearing Tasmanian primary students boasting about having oral sex. Roz Madsen from the Australian Education Union said teachers "felt helpless" at how to deal with the problem – Sunday Tasmanian

Allergies

Jump in allergy risk for babies - allergies among infants have doubled, with more than 5000 Victorian babies at risk each year – Melbourne Sunday Herald Sun

Tree sitting

Richard Pennicuik still refusing to come down from tree - The Perth man who has spent 55 days camped up a tree today conceded his protest to save the gum from being chopped down was "sheer stupidity" – Perth Sunday Times

Saturday, 30 January 2010

Media wrap - Hunger strike largely ignored


POLITICS AND ECONOMICS

Political life

Therese chooses my clothes, says Kevin Rudd – Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has confessed he is no fashionista, and waits for his wife to lay out his tie for the day – Brisbane Courier Mail

Taxation

Wealthy get $55bn in tax breaks - As Wayne Swan considers a raft of taxation reforms proposed in the Henry review, figures released yesterday showed the government allowed about $31bn in tax concessions for housing in 2008-09. Australians putting money into superannuation received about $24.5bn – The Australian

Immigration

Delays spark Christmas Island hunger strike – Asylum-seekers  protesting inside the Christmas Island detention centre say they will remain on hunger strike until the Immigration Department guarantees to process their refugee claims faster – The Australian

Sailor denies kicking SIEV 36 asylum-seeker - Appearing before a coronial inquiry in Darwin, Able Seaman Adrian Medbury disputed the evidence of RAAF corporal Sharon Jager, who testified he had kicked the asylum-seeker in the head before pulling the corporal from the water – The Australian

Mates a priority: blast sailor says – When Adrian Medbury saw an asylum seekers' wooden boat explode as it bobbed on a calm sea near Australia's Ashmore Reef, he thought his nine Australian Defence Force colleagues on board had been attacked – Melbourne Age

Refugee boat blast critic Lieutenant Commander Brett Westcott was moved on – The commanding officer of a navy ship that went to intercept a boat of refugees that exploded in Australian waters was relieved of his position after complaining that his own senior officers and the Federal Government had handled the incident badly – Sydney Daily Telegraph


Files risk halts flow of refugees – The Australian Government has stopped processing Iraqi refugees in Syria following Syrian Government demands for access to the personal files of refugees approved for resettlement in AustraliaMelbourne Age

Elections

Howard chaos in poll lead-up – John Howard wanted to introduce income splitting at the 2007 election to help families with stay-at-home parents and had to be convinced to deliver what Coalition campaigners dubbed his "dirty great tax cut". An insider's account of the Coalition's chaotic election campaign also reveals that Mr Howard junked an $18 billion master plan for public hospitals, containing many of the reforms Kevin Rudd subsequently embraced, because he was spooked by the Labor leader's killer political campaign line that "the reckless spending must stop" – The Australian

How Howard was spooked by Rudd in 2007 – John Howard went into the 2007 election campaign with a secret $18 billion plan to fix the nation's public hospitals but dumped the policy after being spooked by Kevin Rudd's vow to end "reckless spending", a former top aide has revealed – Melbourne Age

NSW Liberals united behind O'Farrell leadership – Key NSW Liberals have locked in behind Opposition Leader Barry O'Farrell, confirming that he will lead the party to the election next year and almost certainly become the state's 43rd premier – The Australian

Taxation

Instant tax refunds on the cards - Australians would get an instant tax refund tailored to their occupation, age and address under a plan to help most people avoid going to an accountant and free up the Australian Taxation Office to target big tax cheats – The West Australian

Booze, cigs tax slug by stealth – Beer and cigarette taxes are quietly going up on Monday in a tax grab that will reap the Federal Government millions of dollars – Melbourne Herald Sun

Censorship

State Government backs Herald Sun bid to expose identity of runaway child rapist – An embarrassed State Government caved into public outrage over sex offender secrecy and backed the Melbourne Herald Sun's bid to expose the identity of a runaway child rapist


Aboriginal affairs

Camps swap land for houses in Alice Springs – Aborigines in an Alice Springs community will be given their first opportunity to buy their homes outright under a landmark deal expected to spark a revolution in land tenure reform – The Australian

Landscape of despondency as bureaucrats rebuild the bush – Nicolas Rothwell in The Australian writes that despite the rhetoric being pumped out in Canberra and Darwin, it is plain that another policy failure is unfolding across the inland: money is being poured into the region, nourishing support staff and project managers but failing to benefit the indigenous citizens it is intended to help.

Internet

Senator Xenophon calls for web 'patrol' – South Australian Senator Nick Xenophon wants predators who lie about their age to children on the internet jailed, in the wake of the Carly Ryan murder – Adelaide Advertiser

Health and hospitals

Mental health bill hits $1.5b – Measures to contain the runaway cost of Medicare-funded psychological treatment have failed, costs spiralling 26 per cent last year, according to new analysis. Spending will blow out to $1.5 billion by next year, twice its budget allocation – Sydney Morning Herald

Opposition accepts cataract backdown – The Government has been forced to compromise on its plans to halve the Medicare fee for cataract surgery in response to fierce resistance from doctors, the elderly and the Opposition – Sydney Morning Herald

Defence

New submarine project warned of dirty fight – Defence has received a confidential report on how to avoid the mistakes made by the Collins-class submarine program when it builds its new fleet of subs. The report goes beyond purely military matters and advises Defence on how to secure political support, control the media and handle the "very dirty" fight it says will inevitably break out over the nation's largest defence project: the building of 12 new submarines in AdelaideThe Australian

Royal Australian Navy push for closer links with Asia – The failure of Collins-class submarines and other navy vessels not only threatens Australia's defence capabilities but also its pursuit of stronger diplomatic ties with Asia. Documents prepared for new Defence Department secretary Ian Watt reveal that the Rudd government is increasingly practising diplomacy at sea, using the navy to forge closer relationships with countries - China, in particular - that it considers a potential threat or an important ally should there be conflict in the region – The Australian

NSW plan threatens SA's defence title – A New South Wales plan to establish a maritime facility hub is putting the state on a collision course with South Australia. In what has been interpreted in political circles as a declaration of war, NSW Premier Kristina Keneally has made an aggressive bid to secure a sizeable slice of an estimated $250 billion in defence spending over the next two decades – Adelaide Advertiser

Law and order

Card scheme tighter to protect docks – The federal government is to tighten access to the Maritime Security Identification Card following claims that those with criminal connections could still gain ready access to the docks – The Australian

Industrial relations

Workers at war over Woodside strike – Bitter divisions have broken out among striking workers at Woodside's $12 billion Pluto project in the Pilbara, as the nation's peak union body yesterday demanded the workers end their illegal action – The Australian

Education

Tests just child's play for top-performing school – The Sydney Morning Herald looks at t he independent school in Belrose, which came sixth overall in a ranking of NSW primary schools based on results from NAPLAN test.

Gillard defends My School index – The Education Minister, Julia Gillard, has conceded the index used to group ''similar'' schools on her controversial My School website does not accurately reflect the student mix of some schools – Sydney Morning Herald

Fresh blow for Indian studies – In A fresh blow to Australia's overseas education industry, a minister has gained wide publicity in the Indian media after saying Indians should not go to Australia for studies – Melbourne Age

Opinions

Unhealthy obsession with Abbott could rebound on government – Dennis Shanahan believes the Rudd government has an unhealthy obsession with Tony Abbott's obsessions – The Australian

Rate rises put banks on notice – Jennifer Hewitt in The Australian writes that the most significant political battle next Tuesday will be against the big four banks rather than against Tony Abbott. The government is determined to ensure that they don't raise their rates by any more than the Reserve Bank of Australia's expected 0.25 per cent hike.

Scattergun approach may shoot Abbott in the foot – Peter van Onselen believes the most significant fact in the start up of the My School website is not the information it contains, its accuracy (or otherwise) or even its long-term value. It is the fact that Julia Gillard was able to make it happen at all – The Australian

We have the right to draw incomes from our land - Galarrwuy Yunupingu explains in The Australian how environmental groups and the Greens have opposed an Aboriginal community timber industry from the start and still do. Environmental groups have attacked them publicly and worked behind the scenes to undermine the business. They have lobbied politicians against the project, notably the Northern Territory government, publicly abused our partners and interfered where they can. For all I know these people would have us live on our knees poisoned by welfare for the rest of our lives.

Pat response to racist thuggery - Where the debate about Indian students gets a bit screwy, writes George Megaloogenis in The Australian, is the attackers are given the benefit of the doubt that they are mere thugs, not racists.

When welfarism takes over, disaster will follow – Noel Pearson writes that healthy and functioning groups in society are those where governments occupy important but limited roles in their lives – The Australian

Flawed history keeps myth alive about the Stolen Generations – writes Keith Windschuttle in The Australian

The ugly, dirty game of politics - If Peter Costello had become prime minister, he would not have wanted Tony Abbott as his deputy. Costello believed Abbott's dismissive attitude to economic management made him unsuitable – Laurie Oakes in the Melbourne Herald Sun looks at a new book that gives readers an unusually candid inside look at the world of politics and political journalism.

Scapegoat insanity for our navy – Miranda Devine in the Sydney Morning Herald believes the inquest into the explosion of the asylum seeker boat SIEV 36 off Ashmore Reef last year, killing five people and injuring 40, has all the hallmarks of a witch-hunt.

Reassuring Rudd artfully morphs into Howard Lite - Kevin Rudd offered himself at the last election to be a good deal like John Howard, but without the nasty bits. It worked. In this year's federal poll, he is planning to look even more like Howard. How? Because he will campaign on exactly the same theme that Howard used so successfully the last time he won an election – Peter Hartcher in the Sydney Morning Herald

BUSINESS

Staring down the dragon: BHP's battles in China - BHP has stood up to China like no other corporation, but the world's biggest miner is playing a dangerous game, John Garnaut reports from Shanghai for the Sydney Morning Herald

ENVIRONMENT

Government green loans scheme 'close to collapse' - Just six months after its launch, the $70 million Green Loans scheme to get Australians to install energy-efficient products will be lucky to survive past March without millions more in taxpayer funding – Brisbane Courier Mail

Abbott taunts PM on climate – Tony Abbott is branding Kevin Rudd an ''environmental televangelist'', taunting him that the Federal Government's 5 per cent emissions reduction target doesn't match his rhetoric – Melbourne Age

Assessor overload bleeds green loans scheme – The  Federal Government's $70m Green Loans program has been sullied by claims of rorting and mismanagement and could run out of money within months – Brisbane Courier Mail

Gunns settles with last pulp mill opponents – The six-year legal battle between Gunns and its critics has finally ended, with the timber company agreeing to settle with the last four of the so-called "Gunns20" – The Australian

Climate sceptic warmly received during debate – Lord Christopher Monckton, imperious and articulate, won yesterday's climate change debate in straight sets. Forget facts and fictions, numbers and statistics, this British high priest of climate change sceptics is a polished performer, even against the most committed of scientists – Brisbane Courier Mail

Cost of water plant to hit $1.6b, say Greens – The Kurnell desalination plant will cost Sydney's households an estimated $1.6 billion over the next decade, on top of the $2 billion it cost to build, even though Sydney's network of dams has sufficient water reserves to last several years – Sydney Morning Herald

MEDIA

TV ads slugged by global economic crisis – Advertisers spent $3.4 billion on free-to-air television advertising last year, a fall of 8.6 per cent compared with 2008 as budget cuts due to the global economic crisis carved up local marketing expenditure – The Australian

LIFE

Real estate

$50m home sales surge but Queensland still lags – Strong clearance rates from Gold Coast mega-auctions have kick-started the property market but Queensland's recovery still lags behind other states – Brisbane Courier Mail

Buyer grant celebrated as units set pace on price - Values for units increased by 13.5 per cent on average, compared with the 10.4 per cent lift in median house price, according to the RP Data-Rismark Hedonic Home Value Index released yesterday – The Australian

Families feeling the house price squeeze – Soaring Sydney property prices are killing off the great Australian dream. Latest real estate figures show the median house price in Australia's largest city has hit a record $600,000 and could reach $700,00o this year – Sydney Daily Telegraph

House prices regain lost turf - Perth house prices have almost recovered all the ground they lost since the end of the mid-Noughties boom, new figures show, but any new increases are set to be slowed by a run of interest rate rises expected to start next week – The West Australian

Icons

The Sydney Harbour Bridge is one rusty coathanger - Despite raking in $84.785 million in toll revenue in the past financial year, the RTA yesterday admitted large sections of Sydney Harbour Bridge were rusting and in need of a paint job – Sydney Daily Telegraph

Family law

Family law bid to halt threats over finances - on family law recommends a change to the legal definition of violence to encompass behaviour that is "economically abusive", threatening or coercive. The report, by the Family Law Council, says changes made to the Family Law Act (1975) by the Howard government narrowed the definition of violence and was "conservative in its drafting" – The Australian

Education

Poor children more disadvantaged in Australian schools – Poor Australian children are less likely to do well at school than disadvantaged children overseas, the architect of the My School website declared yesterday – The Australian

Dogs

Calls for uniform laws on pit bulls after woman, 84, attacked - The state's peak animal protection agency, the RSPCA, said the State Government needed to review laws on the dogs – and the identification of their cross-breeds – to make regulations uniform. It called for an overhaul of regulations for the breed, which it says is not inherently dangerous – Brisbane Courier Mail

Motoring

RTA crash statistics show that women are better drivers than men - The latest crash statistics from the RTA show men are four times more likely to be behind the wheel in a fatal accident than women – Sydney Daily Telegraph

Friday, 29 January 2010

No gain from loyally defending the leader


Queensland Liberal Senator George Brandis yesterday and deputy Opposition Leader Julie Bishop have done Tony Abbott no favours by buying into the debate about the importance of virginity for modern youth. Both were trying to come to the aid of their Leader whose comments in aninterview with the Australian Women’s Weekly have had the egg beater taken to them by journalists and Labor politicians.
This is an issue of no lasting importance provided the Opposition allows it to peter out as the silly political season comes to an end with the return of the kids to school. Keeping on responding to Labor gibes, no matter how unfair they might actually be, simply reinforces the idea, in the minds of young women, that Tony Abbott is not a politician on their wave length.

Media wrap - Schools dominate the news pages



POLITICS AND ECONOMICS

Education

Focus falls on big-fee schools as parents get reality check – Some elite private schools charging tens of thousands of dollars a year in fees scored lower on the national literacy and numeracy tests than neighbouring public schools – The Australian

Keneally attacks 'crazy' gag on newspapers – In every  other state, newspapers can publish information about the relative performance of schools using data now freely available on the Federal Government's My School website. But in NSW, newspapers can be fined $55,000 for publishing these results thanks to a law that the Premier, Kristina Keneally, says is ''crazy'' and ''nonsensical'' – Sydney Morning Herald

Top schools lagging on reading, writing tests – Some of of Victoria's most prestigious schools are underperforming on national reading and writing tests when compared with similar schools, according to the Federal Government's controversial My School website – Melbourne Age

Millions clamour for My School reportsThe Illawarra Mercury today lists the Illawarra's 120 schools by social advantage - the key methodology used to compare like schools. About two-thirds of the Illawarra's schools are classified as being in the advantaged category. These include Austinmer and Mount Keira public schools, and Kiama and Bulli high schools. Bellambi Public School and Corrimal High School are in the one third of so-called disadvantaged schools.




Next step will reveal finances – The financial resources of every school in Australia will be on public display in the next version of Education Minister Julia Gillard's My School website, due later this year – Melbourne Age

Good or bad? Sceptical parents give website a B- - Parents were divided yesterday about the usefulness of the controversial My School website – Melbourne Age

How the pollies' old schools fare on My School website – Education Minister Julia Gillard's old school, Unley High School in Adelaide, is performing well, with Year 9 results in writing, spelling, grammar and numeracy above the national average. However, the public high school -- which Climate Change Minister Penny Wong also attended -- is lagging behind other "statistically similar" schools, including Geelong Grammar School's Corio campus in Victoria – The Australian


My School website comparisons don't add upDargo Primary School is less a school than an abandoned building. Last year it had one student. This year it has none. Yet according to My School, it is statistically similar to privately operated Camberwell Grammar, with 12,055 enrolments in Melbourne's inner east – Sydney Daily Telegraph


Exodus from public to private slows down – The movement of students from government schools to private ones appears to be slowing. While independent and Catholic schools continue to show steady growth, data released yesterday show their share of the rise in enrolments has dropped substantially on the previous year's figures – Sydney Morning Herald

Health and hospitals

A poor state of health: NSW hospitals the worst in the country – Public hospitals in NSW are the worst performing in the country when it comes to causing death and serious injuries to patients – Sydney Morning Herald

GP on attack over 'false security' of bowel tests – Australia’s  $103 million bowel cancer screening program has lulled people into a false sense of security about the disease and should be overhauled, the former president of the Australian Medical Association Kerryn Phelps says – Sydney Morning Herald

Second wave of swine flu feared – A second wave of swine flu may hit Australia as soon as next month, a top infectious diseases expert warns – Adelaide Advertiser

Tassie's shame of surgery wait – One in 10 Tasmanians on elective surgery lists waited more than a year for their operations. That is more than triple the national average delay – Hobart Mercury

Economic matters

RBA to go it alone in lifting interest rates – The Reserve Bank next week is likely to become one of the only major central banks to begin 2010 by raising interest rates, after decisions by the US and the New Zealand to keep key rates on hold while the global economic recovery remains fragile – The Australian

Elections

SA Treasurer Kevin Foley to announce land tax changes – Treasurer Kevin Foley has fired the first salvo in the state election campaign with more than $528 million in spending promises, including long-awaited land tax cuts – Adelaide Advertiser

Tony Abbott plotting ETS downfall – Smokers could be slugged with higher prices to help fund an alternative Coalition climate change policy and building owners could be given tax breaks to "go green" as part of Opposition Leader Tony Abbott's greenhouse-busting plan – Sydney Daily Telegraph

Immigration

Rudd cools on a 'big Australia' – Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's enthusiasm for a ''big Australia'' of 35 million people appears to have cooled somewhat – Melbourne Age

Political life

Lawrence Springborg should go: rebel MP Aidan McLindon – Maverick Liberal National MP Aidan McLindon has called on Lawrence Springborg to reconsider his position in the leadership team of the party – Brisbane Courier Mail

Industrial relations

Unions probed over 'no ticket, no start' claims – Three of the nation's most militant unions are under investigation for alleged breaches of the federal workplace laws, including that they tried to impose a "no ticket, no start" rule on projects in Western Australia – The Australian

Unions won't pay strikers' fines - Woodside is suing the construction union for allegedly organising industrial action on the Pluto project, as the union revealed it will not pay fines for the striking workers – The West Australian

Censorship

Pre-teens target of raunchy website – A game in which pre-teen girls become raunchy virtual characters wearing lingerie, taking the Pill and buying Third World orphans has horrified children's groups – Adelaide Advertiser

Opinions

War post mortem checking for blood on the hands of lawyers – Richard Ackland in the Sydney Morning Herald writes how the Chilcot inquiry in London comes as a handy reminder, if we needed one, that beside all the nifty mission statements in which the law wraps itself, there's another overriding one: he who pays the piper plays the tune.

My School criticism fails test - The battle over the My School website launched yesterday is, among everything else, a struggle between the Government and what has been a core Labor constituency: teachers writes Michelle Grattan in the Melbourne Age

My School increases transparency and opens way for debate – Katharine Murphy writes in the Melbourne Age how it was a wobbly start but Julia Gillard has delivered for parents who want more information about their schools.

Gillard's education 'mouse that roared' – This was the day the education mouse roared, the day the great silent majority finally made themselves heard. While vested interest groups including teacher unions went on air and anywhere else they could find an audience yesterday to rant about the evils of "league tables", the opposite took place in the real world writes Bruce McDougall in the Sydney Daily Telegraph

Parents are hungry for information on schools – Ebru Yaman in The Australian says comparisons are odious, goes the saying; but when it comes to schools in Australia they are downright political and ugly.

Violence taints bravery in an explosive situation – It is often said military people are ordinary people doing extraordinary things. It is surely true. But sometimes they can look just plain ordinary writes Paul Toohey in the Sydney Daily Telegraph

The game has changed and so should the PM – writes Dennis Shanahan in The Australia. Kevin Rudd's emissions trading scheme is dead but he can't let it go. Politically he should shift ground to alternative action on climate change, blame Tony Abbott for the failure of a scheme previously favoured by Liberal leaders, and use the global failure to agree on a concerted plan as a reprieve before the election.

Hats off to market forces – We do need to lift our productivity levels, which are about 85 per cent of those in the US, some 5 to 10 percentage points short of where they could reasonably be, writes Henry Ergas in The Australian.  But if the government is serious about closing that gap, it should focus on allowing markets to work, not distort them at every turn.

Opposition leader Tony Abbott vilified for being a dad – writes Andrew Bolt in the Melbourne Herald Sun

BUSINESS

ASIC's arsenal gets a boost – The corporate watchdog will be handed greater powers to investigate claims of insider trading, including the ability to intercept telephone calls, in a bid to crack down on the difficult-to-prosecute crime – The Australian

BHP to spend $US1.93b on further Pilbara expansion - Mining giant BHP Billiton says it has approved a $US1.93 billion expansion of its Pilbara iron ore business, to lift production capacity to 240 million tonnes per annum in 2013 – The West Australian

ENVIRONMENT

The sassy aftertaste of the new Eau de Kurnell: chlorine – It was the $1.9 billion blind taste, with water straight out of the Kurnell desalination plant on trial, compared with tap water and bottled water bought at a sandwich shop just up the road. And no one was more surprised with the outcome than the wine consultant, wine taster and wine reviewer Peter Bourne, who did the blind tasting for the Sydney Morning Herald.

Environmental red tape saving dangerous trees – Environmental red tape is stopping dangerous roadside trees being removed for motorists' safety, the Local Government Association states – Adelaide Advertiser

MEDIA

New page in publishing turns on Apple's offering – The use of e-book readers is in its infancy in Australia but Apple's iPad will be the harbinger of a change in the way Australians read books, says the nation's largest independent publisher – The Australian

Give us a sporting chance – Sports fans are growing increasingly frustrated at the way 'live' sports are being delayed, cut or simply not shown at all – Adelaide Advertiser

LIFE

Child care

Day-care centres fail on hygiene and safety - in five family day-care centres nationally fail hygiene and safety quality standards, a report has found. Child-care fees in the cities have meanwhile continued to soar, hitting a median of $300 a week in NSW for long day-care centres, up $11, and $266 for family day-care, a rise of $12 from 2008 – Sydney Morning Herald

Children 'at risk' in shared parenting – The practice of splitting child custody equally between divorced parents is being questioned after a major study found one in five parents in the arrangement believed it was not working – Sydney Daily Telegraph

Call to end shared custody: Chisholm report – A report commissioned by the Rudd government recommends major changes to the controversial shared parenting law introduced by former prime minister John Howard, saying it has put women and children at risk – The Australian



Dads the winners under shared parenting: lawyers – A majority of family court lawyers believe shared parenting laws introduced by the Howard government in 2006 favour fathers over mothers and parents over children – The Australian

Law and order

Sea Shepherd crew call for attempted murder charges – The battle-weary crew of the Sea Shepherd vessel Steve Irwin docked in Fremantle Harbour yesterday declaring their intentions to push for attempted murder charges against the Japanese whalers who, they say, sliced their boat Ady Gil in two – Sydney Morning Herald

Fewer state police on beat – Victoria Police has a smaller proportion of officers on the beat of any state or territory, new data has revealed – Melbourne Age

Queensland police deliver more for lessQueensland spends less per person on its police service than anywhere else in Australia but still manages to have more operational officers on duty than the national average – Brisbane Courier Mail


Fellow Indians held over murder of Ranjodh Singh – An Indian man was still alive when his alleged assailants set his face and body alight and left him to die by the side of a road in the NSW town of Griffith, in a murder senior police have described as "horrific". The Australian

Victoria's top court slowest and most expensive in the countryVictoria has the slowest and most expensive justice system in the nation, with accused criminals in the state's highest court waiting longer than any other in the nation to have their cases finalised – The Australian

Art

Guidelines prompt artists to take cover – Some artists are feeling the pressure to avoid contentious subjects, writes Joyce Morgan in the Sydney Morning Herald

Consumer affairs

Supermarkets are slashing prices to win new business – Supermarkets are set to launch a price war in a boon for shoppers – Melbourne Herald Sun

Copyright

Artist puts stop to 'disrespectful' Google using flag – The Territory man who designed the Aboriginal flag says he stopped online behemoth Google from using it because they were "disrespectful" in the way they approached him – Northern Territory News