Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Media wrap - Labor still comfortably in the lead on Newspoll

POLITICS AND ECONOMICS

Polls

Newspoll: Rudd hits a new low – Kevin Rudd's personal voter appeal is at its lowest since he became Labor leader more than three years ago as support for Labor's emissions trading scheme slumps and the ALP's primary support sits at its lowest since Kim Beazley was opposition leader. Labor still holds an election-winning lead on Greens preferences of 53 per cent to the Coalition's 47 per cent – The Australian


Elections

Wong waters down `food bowl' claim – Federal Water Minister Penny Wong yesterday undermined one of Tasmanian Labor's key re-election pitches: its claim to be able to transform the island into the nation's food bowl – The Australian

Michelle Chantelois demands five-year-old security camera footage of her with Premier Mike Rann – Michelle Chantelois has turned the state election campaign into a soap opera, mixing sex and politics on a grand scale – Adelaide Advertiser


McGinity backs pulp mill – New Bass Liberal candidate Michelle McGinity says she never opposed the construction of an environmentally safe pulp mill. "I support a pulp mill that meets strict environmental criteria,' she said. Labor candidate for Bass Scott McLean dubbed Ms McGinity as anti-pulp mill today after her representations to the Resource Planning and Development Commission – Hobart Mercury

Insulation

Garrett goes bush as batts keep burning – Nero  fiddled while Rome burned, and yesterday there was the unmistakable sound of violins as industry experts converged on Canberra to warn there could be more fires and deaths in the roof insulation debacle engulfing the federal government. Absent was the minister Peter Garrett, who insulated himself from controversy by high-tailing it to the mid-north coast 800km away to launch a nature survey – The Australian

Batt Man Peter Garrett makes his escape – Environment Minister Peter Garrett left bureaucrats to handle the crisis consuming his home insulation program yesterday while he went to a national park to meet a rare angle-headed gecko – Sydney Daily Telegraph

Foil insulation deaths - legal action looming – The Federal Government faces legal action on multiple fronts over its bungled home insulation program as fresh details of repeated warnings of the dangers emerge – Brisbane Courier Mail

Political life

PM trumps Howard for overseas travel - Mr Rudd's rate of travel in two years appears to dwarf that of his predecessor – The Australian

Cancelled conference saves Anna Bligh from union wrath – Labor’s national executive has saved Anna Bligh from embarrassment by scrapping a conference where unions planned to force a backdown on asset sales – Sydney Daily Telegraph

Industrial relations

I'll scrap dismissal laws: Abbott – Tony Abbott has promised to reintroduce statutory non-union contracts and wind back unfair dismissal laws applying to small businesses, ensuring workplace relations is a key policy battleground at the federal election – The Australian

Abbott's workplace law gamble – The Coalition has blasted workplace penalty rates and vowed to change unfair-dismissal laws, as part of a push under new leader Tony Abbott that is set to make industrial relations a big issue in this year's election – Melbourne Age

Tony Abbott wants to scrap penalty rates – Federal Opposition Leader Tony Abbott wants to scrap penalty rates -- to protect the Australian weekend. He is also claiming the Federal Government's employment laws were taking Australia back 40 years to when shops closed at noon on Saturday – Sydney Daily Telegraph

Metro at war with its drivers over new train – Metro will take its train drivers to the federal industrial tribunal after they refused to drive the first of Melbourne's long-awaited and desperately needed new trains – Melbourne Age

Ministerial liability on work deaths urged – Business groups have urged the federal government to hold ministers liable for workplace deaths, saying they should bear the same responsibility as company executives – Melbourne Age

Security

Terrorists smile as they're jailed - Moments after judge Anthony Whealy ordered the five Sydney terrorists to serve jail sentences ranging from 23 to 28 years, the men looked calmly around the courtroom and smirked. If nothing else, their reaction seemed to confirm the judge's assessment that not one of the five had any remorse for plotting violent jihad on Australian soil – The Australian

Case had scent of hysteria, says Hilali – A prominent Muslim cleric has protested the innocence of the five Sydney men sentenced yesterday on terrorism charges, saying the case had the "scent of hysteria" and the potential to damage Australia's international reputation – The Australian

Health and hospitals

Hospital boards `open to abuse' – Tony Abbott has refused to detail how he would prevent politicians appointing political cronies to boards that he proposes to create to administer public hospitals in Queensland and NSW. Kevin Rudd yesterday rejected the proposal as open to abuse and accused the Opposition Leader of making policy on the run – The Australian

Kevin Rudd's hospital plan local, but no boards – Public hospitals will face a resurgence of people power under Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's plan to force the states to be more accountable. The Prime Minister will announce there will be a "provision" for regional and local communities to share in public hospital management – but it will not be in the same form as the Coalition's plan to re-establish hospital boards – Brisbane Courier Mail

Hospitals failing to see emergency patients on time – Prince of Wales hospital is one of the worst in the state when it comes to seeing emergency patients on time, with more than half of those categorised as having a potentially life-threatening condition waiting too long. Gosford, Wyong and Westmead hospitals are also failing to meet safe benchmarks, according to NSW Health figures – Sydney Morning Herald

Economic matters

Rubbery figures disguise true cost of living - The Bureau of Statistics says the official inflation rate in the December quarter was just 0.5 per cent. But more detailed so-called analytical living cost indexes released yesterday show that if you were working your living costs were climbing 0.7 per cent, if you were retired and on the pension they were increasing 0.6 per cent, if you were retired and self-funded by 0.6 per cent and on benefits by 0.6 per cent.

Taxman free to break in to homes – The Tax Office has been given a ''tick of approval'' to break into homes, cars and workplaces where it believes documents are at risk of being destroyed – Melbourne Age

Transport

Mad March just got madder - free M4 to jam up our roads – If you think Sydney's traffic is bad now, you ain't seen nothing yet. Frustrated drivers can expect even more peak-hour delays in coming weeks, with the congestion of what the industry calls "Mad March" fast approaching – Sydney Daily Telegraph.

Law and order

Victorians demand more police as debate rages over local councils supplying security guards - A DIY police force of at least eight security guards will patrol Frankston's CBD after council voted in favour of the controversial trial – Melbourne Herald Sun

Barnett shifts on search laws - Premier Colin Barnett laid the groundwork yesterday for changes to the Government's stop and search legislation aimed at ensuring police do not abuse the new powers. In a clear indication that public disquiet over granting police stop and search authority without needing reasonable suspicion was starting to hit, Mr Barnett said he would consider recommendations from a parliamentary committee reviewing the Bill – The West Australian

Education

School ranking report furore – An explosive report ranking Australian schools based on national test results for $97 doesn't include any Queensland primary schools in its top 100 but names 25 in the bottom. Education stakeholders have slammed the report as "a disgrace, dangerous" and "a sad day for education in Australia", arguing it places too much importance on the tests – Brisbane Courier Mail

Opinions

The trends begin to run against Labor – is the interpretation of Dennis Shanahan of the latest Newspoll in The Australian

Popular Barnaby can be a crucial vote-winner – writes Malcolm Colless in The Australian

Shift in focus risky for Abbott – In promising to change ''the balance'' in industrial relations, Tony Abbott is deserting the political rule of thumb he has set for himself, writes Michelle Grattan in the Melbourne Age. In general, he wants to keep the spotlight on the government, but this will put the attention squarely on the Coalition in the area of workplace policy.

A true believer in the community - Tony Abbott is no right-wing ideologue writes Liberal Senator George Brandis in The Australian

Economic irrationalism leads to poor policy - The after-shocks of the global financial crisis underline Australia's need to maintain disciplined and market-based economic policies – Michael Stutchbury in The Australian

Labor trips over figures – argues George Megalogenis in The Australian. Labor is mistakenly talking down the economy by confusing retrenchment with unemployment. In the 16 months since US financial behemoth Lehman Brothers went bust is that 290,200 extra Australians joined the job market. More than half -- 165,700 -- found work. The remainder -- 124,500 -- didn't, and were counted as unemployed.

Byelection blues: Kennett didn't read the signs, does Brumby? – asks Nick Economou in the Melbourne Age. If nothing else, the Altona byelection re-establishes the viability of the Liberal opposition and consolidates Ted Baillieu's leadership, even though his campaign was not without its flaws.

Climate of division hurts us all – Tim Colebatch writes in the Melbourne Age that Australia today is a far more sophisticated society, has a far more efficient economy, and is a better place to live than a generation ago. But its system of government has failed to evolve. The system remains winner-take-all.

Is Pauline really ready for today's multicultural Britain? – asks Tony Wright in the Melbourne Age. It's perfectly delicious to learn that Ms Hanson, who made her political bones with a speech quivering with indignation over her belief that Australia was in danger of being overrun by Asian immigrants, is about to become an immigrant herself.

Retreat of a political also-rant – Susie O’Brien writes in the Melbourne Herald Sun: So, the anti-immigration campaigner will become an immigrant herself. Good riddance.

Improving The Gap’s safety is a no-brainer - With at least one person a month taking their own life at The Gap, one of the nation’s most visited tourist destinations and the principal end point for suicidal individuals, the Rudd Government is stone-walling attempts by concerned citizens, the parents of suicide victims, Lifeline, the Black Dog Institute and the local Woollahra Council to obtain funding to save lives – Piers Akerman in the Sydney Daily Telegraph

Rail union on wrong track over privatization – Jim Soorley writes in the Brisbane Courier Mail on the rots of the Rail Tram and Bus Union in Queensland

Rudd must dump dead ducks and tackle what really matters – Gerard Henderson in the Sydney Morning Herald writs that the ETS is a lost cause. In which case, Rudd would be well advised to cut Labor's losses now and junk the legislation.

BUSINESS

BlueScope lashes BHP-Rio link - Australia's biggest steelmaker, has lashed out at the $US116 billion ($130bn) planned BHP Billiton-Rio Tinto iron ore merger and BHP's plan to ditch annual iron ore pricing, saying more consolidation and pricing uncertainty could hurt steel producers – The Australian


CBio shares crash on debut – The first big biotechnology float in more than two years, that of arthritis drug developer CBio, has crashed on debut, shares slumping by almost 60 per cent. The fall represented almost $36 million of CBio's sharemarket value. It was linked to doubts about the $1 issue price and thin trading amplifying the loss on the day – Brisbane Courier Mail

ENVIRONMENT

Activist boards Japanese whaler and demands $3.4m for sunken boat – The skipper of the sunken anti-whaling boat Ady Gil has embarrassed Japanese whalers by boarding their security ship in reprisal for the loss of his boat in the Antarctic – Melbourne Age

Garrett goes bush for $10m schemeAustralia will conduct the world's first continent-wide environmental discovery survey, following Environment Minister Peter Garrett's launch of a $10 million scientific program near Coffs HarbourMelbourne Age

Drink beer, build car parks - A Hobart council has become the first council in Australia to use recycled glass in asphalt – Hobart Mercury

MEDIA

Telstra targeted on Foxtel as OECD condemns media laws – The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development has urged the Rudd government to force Telstra to sell its 50 per cent stake in pay-TV company Foxtel, as it lashed Australia's media laws for limiting the number of players in the industry and protecting incumbents against competition – The Australian

Telstra doubles the speed of its Next G HSPA+ network – Telstra has doubled the speed of its Next G HSPA+ network to allow theoretical maximum download speeds of 42 megabits per second and says speeds of up to 82Mbps are now only a year away – The Australian

LIFE

Real estate

Calls for ban on houses in fire areas – One year after Kevin Rudd pledged to rebuild the communities devastated by the Black Saturday fires, planners have warned against "death trap" building and demanded that development be banned in fire-prone areas – The Australian


The drink

Australian general blasts army of drunks – The second-in-command of Australia's armed forces has admitted that the army has an alcohol problem and demanded that officers tackle a culture of heavy drinking – Melbourne Age

New app locates booze buses – Drink drivers are using a mobile phone application called Trapster to identify the location of police booze buses. Trapster offers a free software download that allows users to map the location of police on their mobile phones, which can then be seen by other registered Trapster users – Melbourne Age

Drunks put on the spot – Drunks are to be given on-the-spot fines and banned from "drinking precincts" for 48 hours, the Territory Government announced yesterday – Northern Territory News

Racism

Race site targets Aborigines – An Alice Springs man has set up a Facebook site blaming Aborigines for all the woes of the Territory town. Jasen Moran's site - called Alice Springs residents have had ENOUGH! - has more than 400 members – Northern Territory News
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