Sunday, 21 February 2010

And now it's Conroy in the gun!

POLITICS AND ECONOMICS


Elections

Heartland fears apathy if Labor is re-elected – Premier John Brumby faces a fight in Labor's heartland, where voters fear the ALP will be complacent and apathetic and will ''carry on doing nothing'' if re-elected in November, Greens internal polling has found. A hundred ''green-leaning'' voters in Melbourne's western suburbs were questioned about their attitudes to the Brumby government by Roy Morgan Research on behalf of the Greens in January – Melbourne Sunday Age

Mr Rann, this takes the cake - It was a morning of formality, Premier Mike Rann making the required visit to Government House yesterday for the issuing of the writs to signal the official start of the state election campaign. Soon after, in bizarre scenes at a press conference in the secure confines of the State Administration Centre, ministers Kevin Foley and John Hill served up cakes, muffins and biscuits to journalists and TV crews as an apology for the short notice to be at Government House by 9am for picture opportunities – Adelaide Sunday Mail

Lotto-size odds on Liberal boilover - With the election campaign now officially into its first full day, both major parties are already having sleepless nights. The Government must be concerned the polls are narrowing, with the Liberals equally edgy that the opinion-swing is not narrowing enough – Adelaide Sunday Mail

Political life

Stephen Conroy's skiing freebie – Billionaire businessman Kerry Stokes paid for Senator Stephen Conroy's ski runs when the pair met in an up-scale US ski resort. Senator Conroy did not declare the lift pass in his register of senators' interests, despite declaring other gifts during the month of January. Parliamentary rules state all gifts valued at more than $300 must be declared – Melbourne Sunday Herald Sun

Lions volunteer retracts claims PM would not buy scratchie - A 19-year-old Lions service club volunteer who suggested the PM was "too stingy to buy a $2 scratchie ticket", was gagged within two hours of The Sunday Mail attempts to investigate her claims – Brisbane Sunday Mail

Transport

Transport plan: commuters and motorists to pay – Sydneysiders could face higher public transport fares and a jump in car registration costs and parking fees as the state government scrabbles to fund its plans for transport in NSW to 2031 – Sydney Sun Herald

Discrimination

Men must close the gender gap – Men would be given the same rights to family-friendly work arrangements as women under changes to discrimination laws being drawn up by the federal government – Sydney Sun Herald

Education

The soaring costs of building Rudd's education revolution – Builders’ mark-ups, management fees and multi-layered bureaucracy are hugely inflating the cost of work under the Building the Education Revolution program, critics say. Parents and principals have raised concerns that some projects are costing up to 10 times more than regular construction – Sydney Sun Herald

Defence

Army's lethal legal gap – Army chiefs have refused to act on warnings that major gaps in the training of military legal officers are increasing the risk of Australian troops killing civilians in AfghanistanMelbourne Sunday Age

Shocking statistics show health impact on Australian troops – The cost of caring for injured Australian veterans of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq has exploded in the past two years, with mental illness the leading cause of disability – Brisbane Sunday Mail

Racism

More powers to nab net racists – Laws to tackle racism on the internet are set to be strengthened to give authorities more power to act against offenders. Online content is now responsible for almost one in five complaints about racial vilification. Federal Attorney-General Robert McClelland has written to the Australian Human Rights Commission, ordering a sweeping review of ''arrangements for dealing with racist material on the internet'' – Sydney Sun Herald

Law to take on internet racismMelbourne Sunday Age

'Discontent manager' helps fan the rising flames - Over the past two years, Gautam Gupta has become a polarising figure in the growing public, political and diplomatic controversy over violence against Indian students – Melbourne Sunday Age

Opinions

Sick system offers PM healthy trigger for double dissolution - The man who just says no plans to harry Kevin Rudd on the battleground of hospitals and rebates writes Michelle Grattan in the Sydney Sun Herald

Climate still right to to talk up insulation – Stephanie Peatling in the Sydney Sun Herald declares the government's program may have taken a battering but it's still worth promoting its considerable environmental benefits.

Garrett may be a species deceases – Paul Daley in the Sydney Sun Herald writes that the Environment Minister presided over a bad policy and that is why he may struggle to survive the wilds of a feral parliament this week.

Victoria won't tolerate attacks on Indians – writes Premier John Brumby. Any violence committed in our community is an attack on us all – Melbourne Sunday Age

Why Conroy, not Garrett, is the Rudd Government’s problem – Piers Akerman makes the case in the Sydney Sunday Telegraph

ENVIRONMENT

Gotcha! Activists cry foul as whaling ship breaches sanctuary - As Japanese Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada met Prime Minister Kevin Rudd in Sydney yesterday, the whaling factory ship Nisshin Maru was steaming through the heart of an Australian Antarctic whale sanctuary, anti-whaling activists aboard the Sea Shepherd vessel the Steve Irwin claim – Sydney Sun Herald

Japanese whalers can charter Australian planes – Japanese whalers will be free to continue using Australian charter planes to monitor anti-whaling protesters in the Southern Ocean – Melbourne Sunday Age

Greens take on sceptics – Australian green groups have called a strategy meeting to devise ways to hit back at the climate sceptics movement, amid fears they are losing the PR war – Melbourne Sunday Age

Hefty bill to reveal South Australia's toxic sitesSouth Australia has more than 1000 actual or potentially contaminated sites but finding out where they are comes at a price. The  Environment Protection Authority's 1073 references include industrial sites, former landfills, railyards, petrol stations and private land – Adelaide Sunday Mail

MEDIA

Forget celebrity goss, this mag plays it smart and cool – An independent women's magazine, edited from a one-bedroom flat in Brunswick, has become the fastest-growing magazine in Australia. Frankie, a glossy, bi-monthly produced on a shoestring, grew by 31.6 per cent in the year to December, according to the latest Audit Bureau of Circulations' figures – Melbourne Sunday Age

Online social networking sites trash Queensland’s towns – Online social networkers are forcing political action by condemning the standard of living in their towns. In a sign of the power of social media, online groups are causing headaches for politicians by turning to social networking site Facebook to rant about a number of Queensland cities – Brisbane Sunday Msail

LIFE

Real estate

Property boom: a strong tip to put your house on - Eighty two suburbs are tipped to see median price growth of 10 per cent or more for houses over the next year, while 53 suburbs will see 10 per cent growth or more in apartment values – Sydney Sun Herald

Buyers more than a match for year's first real test – Yesterday saw the first big influx of stock for the year and buyers proved more than up to the task. The Real Estate Institute of Victoria reported a clearance rate of 85 per cent, despite the number of properties up for auction swelling to 678. The result should ease any lingering doubts that confidence in Melbourne's property market was due to take a hit after the interest rate rose three times late last year – Melbourne Sunday Age

Charity

Calling us snobs? You must have heard it second-hand - Bowral is embarrassed. Shopkeepers will not talk on the record and residents are ashamed about the charge of snobbery. And the vacant shop denied to St Vincent de Paul stares out from underneath a Chinese restaurant – Sydney Sun Herald

Health and hospitals

Hospitals paid to collect body partsAustralia’s hospitals are being paid to harvest transplant organs from dying patients. A controversial new "activity-based funding" program administered by the Federal Government's Organ and Tissue Authority is telling hospitals they can receive as much as $11,400 for each patient they turn into an organ donor – Brisbane Sunday Mail

Gambling

State hedges bets on gambling – A survey by the NSW government has found the rate of problem gambling in the state is dropping and that it now has fewer problem gamblers per head of population than Victoria. However the findings have been greeted with scepticism by an academic expert and by anti-pokies campaigner Senator Nick Xenophon, who has called the survey a ''snow job'' from a government dependent on gambling revenue – Sydney Sun Herald

Illegal poker websites could bring an end to online ban – An illegal online gambling company is setting up office in Australia and advertising for staff even though the business is prohibited, not taxed and subject to fines of up to $1.1 million a day – Sydney Sun Herald

Burswood punters don't stand a chance says high-roller – One of Australia's most successful high-rollers believes Burswood Casino has covertly stacked the odds in its favour, giving West Australians virtually no chance of winning – Perth Sunday Times

Welfare

Knocking over pensioners on property value - Thousands of people with disabilities will have their properties valued to check if they are still eligible for welfare payments. The valuations will start this month in a move the federal government estimates will save $25 million over four years – Sydney Sun Herald

The drink

Pub crawls in Surfers Paradise banned – Organised pub crawls through the Surfers Paradise nightclub precinct will be banned under a plan to clean up the Gold Coast tourist strip. About 300 tourists a day spend $50 each to go on booze tours where they are given a free drink at six venues and "a slice of pizza" by their guides – Brisbane Sunday Mail

Rise in veterans battling with grog - The number of former defence force personnel on disability pensions because of alcoholism and depression has risen alarmingly. Department of Veterans Affairs figures reveal that in the past two years the number of claims from veterans of East Timor, Iraq and Afghanistan suffering alcoholism has risen from 177 to 278, or 57 per cent – Melbourne Sunday Herald Sun

Law and order

Queenslanders living in fear of violence – One in seven Queenslanders are too scared to walk the streets of their neighbourhoods alone at night, a new survey of crime victims by the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows – Brisbane Sunday Mail

Red alert: lights camera takes your licence in one go – Motorists risk losing all 12 demerit points from their driver's licence in one hit from new super traffic cameras being rolled out across NSW. The digital cameras, which can detect speeding and red-light-running offences at the same time, can penalise drivers twice – Sydney Sun Herald

NSW toughens its safety laws but critics want even more restraint – Calls to enforce tougher Swedish-style car seat laws that have slashed that country's child fatality rates have been dismissed by the NSW Government – Sydney Sun Herald

Plan to lock up drunks, drug users – New laws to forcibly detain alcoholics and drug addicts in detox centres could be abused to get young binge drinkers off the streets, legal groups have warned. The state government wants to give magistrates the power to force addicts deemed at risk of serious health problems or death into detox for up to two weeks – Melbourne Sunday Age

One chance, then jail, says South Australia's DPP – Sweeping changes are needed to the practice of handing suspended sentences to convicted criminals because many do not deserve them, Director of Public Prosecutions Stephen Pallaras, QC, says – Adelaide Sunday Mail

New bid to control bikies – Police have lodged an application for a control order against a senior member of the Rebels outlaw motorcycle gang, using an untested section of the Government's controversial anti-bikie legislation – Adelaide Sunday Mail

Assaults rife in our schools – The incidence of schoolyard violence has jumped sharply, with police investigating almost 2000 attacks in NSW schools in the past year. New data from the Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research shows an eight per cent increase in assaults occurring on school property in the year to September, compared to the previous 12 months – Sydney Sunday Telegraph

Airport staff 'smuggle drugs and guns' – Organised crime syndicates have infiltrated Australian airports, with corrupt baggage handlers, Customs officials and airline staff suspected of smuggling drugs and firearms into the country – Sydney Sunday Telegraph
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