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
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