Monday, 15 February 2010

Media wrap - Bad Queensland poll news for Labor - federal and state


POLITICS AND ECONOMICS

Elections and polls

Coalition ahead in WA with Abbott at top: poll - The Westpoll shows the coalition has returned to a slight lead over the ALP in WA on a two-party preferred result of 51 per cent to 49 per cent. In December, Westpoll had Labor in front 53-47 after the Liberal Party's leadership woes. However, the Liberal Party still faces losing at least three seats in the State at the next Federal election. – The West Australian

Coalition surges to poll lead – Support for Kevin Rudd in his home state has crashed as Tony Abbott's new-look Coalition powers ahead of Labor for the first time since the 2007 federal election. The latest Galaxy poll, conducted exclusively for The Brisbane Courier-Mail, reveals the energetic new Opposition Leader is making inroads in the crucial battleground of Queensland. If preferences were allocated as per the last election, the Coalition would lead on 51 per cent to the ALP's 49 per cent.

Bligh says voter anger will subside before next election - The Queensland Premier yesterday said she was convinced voter anger would subside once people experienced the benefits of an improved economy and new infrastructure. A new Galaxy poll has shown the party's primary vote sinking to a lowly 31 per cent compared with the LNP's 48 – Brisbane Courier Mail

Tony Abbott in sights of unionists - In a big challenge to the Liberal leader, about 20 union leaders and the ACTU will today map out a campaign strategy, armed with fresh research revealing 53 per cent of workers believed that Mr Abbott would reintroduce WorkChoices – Sydney Daily Telegraph

Big bets on Rudd versus Abbott – The polls suggest a comeback and now the punters are starting to see value in the straight-talking Tony Abbott – Melbourne Herald Sun

Greens in box seat for Victorian election – Greens could control the state's law-making for the next four years as Victorians face the prospect of a "hung" Parliament.  A swing of more than 12 per cent against Labor in the weekend Altona by-election has political pundits suggesting "the swing is on" across the board – Melbourne Herald Sun

Twitter fan Mike Rann targets YouTube votes – Twitter fan Mike Rann has ensured the state will get its first YouTube election campaign. He posted a video on YouTube yesterday about the issuing on Saturday of the writs for the March 20 election – Adelaide Advertiser

Gilt-edged razor gangs to cost South Australian taxpayers $3000 a day – Some razor gang members charged with finding huge cuts to State Government services will cost taxpayers up to $3000 a day in fees, along with business-class airfares, taxi costs and meals. The work of the Sustainable Budget Commission is looming as a key issue at the March 20 state election because none of the proposed cuts will be revealed until the state Budget in September – Adelaide Advertiser

Business backs school reform – Labor has received a major boost in the first week of the Tasmanian election campaign, with business backing its education reforms and strongly opposing Liberal plans to wind them back – The Australian

Libs pledge code as Bartlett funds chopper – State Liberal leader Will Hodgman has promised to introduce a tough code of conduct for ministers and their staff, if elected. Mr Hodgman yesterday announced one of his first actions as premier would be to direct the Integrity Commission to review and bolster the existing code and extend it to ministerial staff – The Australian

Insulation

Opposition pursues Garrett over reaction to early warnings – Prime Minister Kevin Rudd says it is too soon to blame his Environment Minister for the troubled insulation program, as more revelations of early warnings about hidden dangers in the scheme emerge – Brisbane Courier Mail

Peter Garrett misses foil insulation meeting to go bush – Electricians will warn the Rudd government against the re-introduction of potentially deadly foil insulation under a government scheme at talks today in Canberra. But as the government debates new safety options to allow the suspended foil program to start up again, Environment Minister Peter Garrett will not be attending the "technical" meeting – The Australian

An unskilled plan for the unskilled – Spending $2.4 billion on home insulation seemed a great idea a year ago when the global financial crisis looked as if it would take Australia's unemployment rate above 10 per cent. Treasury was particularly concerned about unskilled young people becoming long-term unemployed, which would extend the cost of the downturn far beyond the actual fall in output.

Health and hospitals

Abbott plans local management boards for hospitals – Local boards would run major public hospitals under Opposition Leader Tony Abbott's prescription to fix the nation's ailing health system – Brisbane Courier Mail

Abbott plans boards to rescue ailing hospitals - NSW hospitals are so bad they need a Northern Territory-style intervention, says Tony Abbott, who wants local boards to assume control of the state's major public hospitals – Sydney Morning Herald

Boards for hospitals: Abbott vow – Tony Abbott has pre-empted Kevin Rudd's long-awaited hospitals policy by pledging the Coalition would impose local boards on public hospitals in NSW and Queensland, the states where the systems are in the worst shape – Melbourne Age

Fine print hides risk of genetic test offer – Insurer NIB has begun offering its customers cut-price personalised genetic tests - which could expose them to higher premiums or even leave them unable to get life insurance or insurance payouts. But the company says it has no ulterior motive and only wants to help its members manage their health – Melbourne Age

Political life

Pauline Hanson quitting Australia for the United Kingdom - The former One Nation leader has revealed to Woman's Day magazine that she is selling her Queensland home and moving to the UKSydney Daily Telegraph

Libs refuse to give up hunt for Hitler video culprits - Liberal officials in NSW are still investigating leaked emails that could inflame the war between the party's so-called ''religious'' right and its ''soft'' right, despite appeals by the federal leader, Tony Abbott, for a truce – Sydney Morning Herald

Bombshell as Seven apologises to Rann over Chantelois saga – In a stunning turnaround, Channel Seven last night apologised for any suggestion that Mike Rann's relationship with Michelle Chantelois had affected his performance as Premier. But the station has not apologised for suggesting he had a sexual relationship with her – Adelaide Advertiser

Seven retracts some claims in Mike Rann sex program – The Seven Network has settled a defamation case brought by South Australian Premier Mike Rann over his alleged involvement with a former parliamentary waitress. The network broadcast a short statement last night, retracting "implications" aired on the Sunday Night program in November that Mr Rann "exploited his friendship" with Michelle Chantelois and used his position to have her sacked from a public school. But the network did not retract the suggestion that the alleged affair took place, and has stressed the statement is not an apology – The Australian

Economic matters

International Monetary Fund says inflation goals are wrong for economic management – The International Monetary Fund has called for the overthrow of inflation targeting as the central goal of economic management, and urged that inflation be allowed to rise to 4 per cent to give governments a better ability to manage downturns – The Australian

School billions miss their target in rush to spend Rudd stimulus money – Paul Sheehan writes that when the federal government opened the floodgates and started spending on school buildings on a scale and speed never seen before, the smart thing was to take the money and not complain. It did not pay to do what one headmaster at a rural NSW school chose to do: fight for value for money under the $16 billion Building the Education Revolution and Primary Schools for the 21st Century schemes – Sydney Morning Herald

Big business floats 73 as new retirement age - Big business says the retirement age may need to be lifted to 73 by 2049 to keep the economy moving in the face of a greying population. Releasing its wish list to the Federal Government before the May Budget, business groups have again pleaded with Labor to but the brakes on its economic stimulus program – The West Australian

Immigration

Residency lures foreign students - Almost a quarter of international students choose to study in Australia to become permanent residents, according to a survey which could heighten industry fears about the possible impact of recently announced changes to the skilled migration system – Sydney Morning Herald

Censorship

South Australian courts issue one suppression order each day in the first week of FebruarySouth Australia's courts imposed one suppression order each day in the first week of February, despite legislation that was supposed to lessen their numbers. This follows 11 suppressions in January - in 19 working days – Adelaide Advertiser

Local government

Wong wants to be Lord Mayor of Adelaide - Prominent businessman Francis Wong wants to be Adelaide's next Lord Mayor and says the city must encourage investment and development to make the most of the economic benefits of the state's looming mining boom – Adelaide Advertiser

No-armed bandits coining it in - For four months they were attacked with glue, foam cement and spray paint, but Balmoral's controversial ''pay and display'' parking meters are still poised to become a million-dollar money-spinner for Mosman Council – Sydney Morning Herald

Education

Kevin Rudd faces pressure over digital education revolution – They were called the toolbox of the 21st century by Kevin Rudd in the 2007 election campaign as Labor launched its $1 billion digital education revolution. Two and a half years on, students have been lumbered with "glorified typewriters" as the Government drags the chain on high-speed internet access in high schools – Brisbane Courier Mail

Law and order

D.I.Y. police force for Frankston – A Melbourne council fed up with too much crime and too few police is moving to hire a private security force to patrol local streets.  Frankston Council is poised to spend about $250,000 of public funds hiring eight roaming guards as part of a six-month trial to tackle crime and antisocial behaviour – Melbourne Herald Sun

Road safety

Queensland Government rejects call for brain tests for drivers - State Government has rejected suggestions that young drivers should undergo brain tests before receiving a licence – Brisbane Courier Mail

Housing

Home wreckers – Nearly 200 public housing dwellings were sold or demolished in the last two years - but the NT Government built only four houses to add to its stock in that period – Northern Territory News

Transport

Keneally orders transport rethink - The Premier has told the treasury and transport departments to study the recommendations of the independent inquiry into Sydney's public transport, as she leaves the door open to delaying the metro network in favour of expanding heavy rail – Sydney Morning Herald

Brumby rail promise stalls – Premier John Brumby's pledge to speed up government action to fix Melbourne's public transport system has been undercut by the revelation his election-year roll-out of new trains is falling further behind schedule – Melbourne Age

Taxation

Many unhappy returns: Tax Office faces backlog - Things will start to look up for as many as half a million taxpayers from today. They're caught in a backlog that began on the Australia Day long weekend when the Tax Office took the unusual step of turning off the ageing computer system that processes tax returns and transferring all 27 million taxpayer records and 280 million forms to a new one – Sydney Morning Herald

Opinions

Justice is short-lived – writes Alan Howe in the Melbourne Herald Sun. Like it or not, our magistrates and judges are going to have to start seeing things our way.  Right now, too many of them don't. The results are a regrettable leniency in sentencing the worst offenders Victoria has to offer.

Rudd may become a one-term wonder - says Alexander Downer in the Adelaide Advertiser. Whichever way you look at it there has been a clear change in the public mood in recent weeks. In particular, the Federal Government's carefully crafted green agenda is coming unstuck.

Worlds' central bankers ponder modest reforms – Ross Gittins writes in the Sydney Morning Herald that the North Atlantic financial crisis has humbled the world's central bankers, if the papers delivered to last week's Reserve Bank 50th birthday symposium are a guide. Any lingering naivety about the infallibility of market forces has gone, though plans for reform seem inadequate.

Managing Joyce hard task for either side – Phillip Coorey in the Sydney Morning Herald writes that Barnaby Joyce, like Abbott, is not a great details man but an effective communicator. His job is to inflict damage on the Government rather than be seen as a serious alternative. He demanded finance for agreeing to serve on the frontbench. His role is to run around and scare people, especially in Labor-held regional seats where the scrutiny by media and opponents will be nowhere near as intense.

Life's a bitumen nightmare as cities get hotter than hell – Paul Sheehan in the Sydney Morning Herald finds that the impact of climate warming caused by the urban heat sink effect is real for the majority of the world's population. Beyond that, the story becomes more complex. In December, 2007, professors Ross McKitrick and Patrick Michaels argued in a paper (published in the Journal of Geophysical Research - Atmospheres) that half the global warming trend recorded from 1980 to 2002 could be attributed to the urban heat island effect.

Projects built at expense of community – Kenneth Davidson in the Melbourne Age writes how the Brumby government appears most sleazy when it attempts to justify the handover of public land that morally belongs to the most disadvantaged groups in the community.

PM's stranglehold on foreign policy makes it hard to be heard – We have in him a PM bursting with big ideas about Australia's place in the world writes Daniel Flitton in the Melbourne Age

Brumby, trains and circling Indians – Michael Epis in the Melbourne Age: John Brumby must think we are stupid, really stupid. We are not. Well, not all of us. The latest doozy he served up was declaring a 12 per cent swing against Labor in the Altona byelection at the weekend a ''fantastic'' result. Yep, any more victories like that and they are doomed.

IMF's inflation call recipe for rate hike - The IMF's call for central banks to permanently encourage a higher - 4 per cent - inflation rate is a recipe for higher interest rates. This would be costly for a capital-importing economy such as Australia's. And it would risk providing the trigger for the US to engineer a return to 1970s-style stagflation by inflating its way out of its punishing public debt rather than accept the pain of fiscal belt-tightening – Michael Stutchbury in The Australian

Shocking bungle but Peter Garrett clings on – Glenn Milne points out in The Australian that more Australians have died as a result of the Rudd government's home insulation program, "administered" by Environment Minister Peter Garrett, than lost their lives in the Iraq war.

The poor logic of a spending spree – David Burchell in The Australian writes of the burgeoning money trail for nation-building measures of all kinds, a money trail that, after the accession of that unlikely central planner, Tony Abbott, to the Liberal leadership, seems set to continue as far as the eye can see, regardless of which party is in power.

Aborigines can learn from Jews how to preserve culture and prosper – Noel Pearson writes in The Australian that “beleaguered peoples such as my own mob could do worse than draw upon the example of the Jews. They offer some lessons about how a culturally distinct people might hold their own and succeed in a world that is often without pity.”

BUSINESS

Iron ore price could double in BHP push – Chinese steel mills could be hit with a record jump in iron ore prices this year, as BHP Billiton chief executive Marius Kloppers continues to flag the rising spot price as the best indicator for where this year's talks are headed – The Australian

BHP Billiton chief expects China's steel output to double BHP Billiton chief Marius Kloppers has hinted iron ore benchmark prices are set to jump strongly, and he played down the chances of Chinese steel growth cooling any time soon – Brisbane Courier Mail

No Trinity, no trio for Packer – James Packer’s Macau joint venture has quietly given up on its dream of owning a third casino in Macau – Sydney Morning Herald

Telstra facing new blows with analysts downgrades – The pressure on Telstra's beleaguered stock will be unrelenting this week as a wave of analysts' downgrades continues to wash through the market just days before the telco's biggest shareholder gets the green light to offload another block of shares – The Australian

ENVIRONMENT

Toffs are the worst at wasting water – Toorak toffs are guzzling almost double the water of people in neighbouring suburbs.  And their friends in other wealthy quarters of Melbourne aren't far behind – Melbourne Herald Sun

MEDIA

Newspaper websites not hindering print – Newspaper websites are complementing their printed editions rather than cannibalising readers, a study has found. The results appear to challenge the myth that the rise of new media has come wholly at the expense of traditional formats – Sydney Morning Herald

Commercial radio wants to match TV rebate – Fears the federal government's $250 million licence fee rebate for commercial free-to-air TV networks would set a potentially expensive precedent have been realised, with the commercial radio sector pushing for a handout – The Australian

Seven's ambitious plan for fourth-generation wireless broadband – The Australian media establishment has a chequered history when it comes to investing in the telecommunications sector but Ryan Stokes believes the Seven Network has come up with a business that will buck the trend – The Australian

LIFE

Education

Test results blamed for fall in state school enrolments – Publicity around national test results is being blamed for a drop in state school enrolment growth this year, as the Catholic sector continues to climb – Brisbane Courier Mail

DIY website is new class teacher – Furious parents from Davidson High School, on Sydney's Northern Beaches, are demanding the Education Department explain why their children have been abandoned without a qualified 2-unit maths teacher for the first month of Year 12 – Sydney Daily Telegraph

Selectives fare better in literacy tests than HSC - Most selective schools were ranked higher in the national literacy and numeracy tests last year than they were in the Higher School Certificate – Sydney Morning Herald

School challenges tribunal decision on fees dispute – A Supreme Court judge will rule on an appeal by a South Yarra grammar school against a tribunal's decision its headmistress fears will have major ramifications for every independent school's fee arrangements – Melbourne Age

Euthenasia

Young people gain access to euthanasia drug - The Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine has found that 51 people in Australia have died from an overdose of Nembutal in the past 10 years – Sydney Morning Herald

The death trap - It is illegal to obtain but it is the drug of choice for some terminally ill patients wanting to choose the timing of their death. The law is now catching on – Melbourne Age

Conscription

Call for return of youth conscription to combat violence – Former national servicemen have called for a modern version of conscription to combat youth street violence – Melbourne Age

Racism

Vindaloo proves a red hot recipe for solidarity – A Melbourne web designer's little event to help end violence against Indians has turned into a runaway success before it's even happened. More than 10,000 people have signed up on the internet for Mia Northrop's ''Vindaloo Against Violence'' campaign - some from as far away as New YorkMelbourne Age
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