Thursday, 11 February 2010

Media wrap - Peter Garrett makes the headlines


POLITICS AND ECONOMICS

Political life

Garrett in damage control – Environment Minister Peter Garrett has been forced to order safety checks for 48,000 households at an estimated cost of $19 million as he attempts to shut down a significant political attack on his competence – Melbourne Age

Garrett's $50m roofing debacle – Taxpayers will spend up to $50 million on home safety inspections after federal Environment Minister Peter Garrett bowed to industry and political pressure to deal with potentially deadly faults in his $2.45 billion program. Fending off calls for his resignation, Mr Garrett ordered 37,000 safety audits of homes with foil insulation over fears sloppy installers had caused roofs to become electrified – The Australian


Abbott fails to guarantee Joyce's future – Tony Abbott has declined to guarantee that the controversial Barnaby Joyce will remain as finance spokesman, although the Opposition Leader says he will take his current frontbench team to the election – Melbourne Age

Labor's attacks highlight 'liability' label on Barnaby Joyce – Tony Abbott has declined to guarantee Barnaby Joyce will still be the opposition finance spokesman at the election as Liberal MPs began to express disquiet about the Nationals senator holding such a key portfolio. Senator Joyce is being targeted remorselessly by the government because of his comments, which it deems irresponsible for the alternative finance minister – Sydney Morning Herald

Get it right, Abbott tells Joyce – Tony Abbott has told Barnaby Joyce he can't afford to make any more errors as the Coalition's finance spokesman and has flagged a new role for the outspoken, unorthodox Nationals senator in regional NSW and QueenslandThe Australian

Barnaby Joyce 'like killer Ivan Milat' – Embattled Opposition Finance spokesman Barnaby Joyce has been likened to backpacker serial killer Ivan Milat by a Queensland Labor backbencher – Brisbane Courier Mail

Chinese chase ALP donor on fraud claims – The Chinese-born benefactor of the former defence minister Joel Fitzgibbon is being pursued by a state-owned enterprise in Beijing that accuses her of a multimillion-dollar fraud involving the illegal transfer of funds to Australia – Sydney Morning Herald

Radio ads breach may cost Belinda Neal's seat – Labor Party officials will investigate allegations that could derail Belinda Neal's already besieged preselection bid. The claims involve possible breaches of Labor Party rules after Ms Neal ran a public advertising campaign on radio stations paid from ALP funds during her preselection – Sydney Daily Telegraph

Liberals at war again - internal rift over Right MP David Clarke – Opposition Leader Tony Abbott is struggling to contain a factional crisis, with at least seven senior federal MPs now intervening in the NSW turf war between the hard right and renegade federal Liberal MP Alex Hawke – Sydney Daily Telegraph

State Ombudsman to investigate Charles Sturt Council's links to Labor – The State Ombudsman has launched an investigation into Charles Sturt Council after allegations of Labor government influence on elected members – Adelaide Advertiser

Economic matters

CBA may set rates above Reserve – The Commonwealth Bank has indicated it could be forced to raise interest rates outside the Reserve Bank's official cycle, as volatile financial markets keep funding costs high for the nation's biggest bank – The Australian

Jobs for the boys

Kaiser lobbied PM before top job – Anna Bligh's former chief adviser, Mike Kaiser, lobbied the Prime Minister's office to locate the NBN headquarters in Brisbane only months before he was given a plum $450,000 a year job with the national broadband network late last year without a formal selection process – The Australian

When Mike met Stephen, they cliqued – Andrew Fraser in The Australian recalls the days when Mike Kaiser and Stephen Conroy were bright young men in the Labor Party in Canberra

Let's pop that $450k question – Stephen Conroy has one big question about the National Broadband Network's $450,000-a-year government relations man and former Labor MP Mike Kaiser that he hasn't answered. Why does a 100 per cent government-owned entity such as the NBN need a government relations person in the first place? – Christian Kerr writing in The Australian

Elections

Protest march in election week - Teachers angry about education reforms will stage a series of strikes just days before the state election on March 20. – Hobart Mercury

Flak on benched Hawks – Premier David Bartlett has faced a barrage of criticism after he scuttled Hawthorn footballers appearing at a community event – Hobart Mercury

$6b works for the future – The State Government says its new infrastructure plan will underpin $6 billion worth of projects over the next decade.  However, the Opposition has derided it as just another glossy brochure – Hobart Mercury

Push to pump up House – A new community organisation has been formed to campaign for a return to a larger House of Assembly. The new Tasmanian Constitution Society wants the size of the Lower House restored to its former 35 members of Parliament, instead of the present 25 – Hobart Mercury

Tony Abbott's lycra and Julia Gillard's leaking roof - It was appropriate that it rained on a politician. Because soon it will be raining politicians in our towns and suburbs as the election campaign picks up speed and the urge for political vaudeville takes over. Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has made it clear that when Parliament isn't sitting he will be travelling – Sydney Daily Telegraph

Rann's short election campaign – The formal election campaign will not begin until next week despite an Opposition call for the Government to have the writs issued now and go into caretaker mode. Premier Mike Rann yesterday said the writs would be issued on February 20, with electoral rolls closing on March 2 and nominations for seats closing on March 5 – Adelaide Advertiser

Racism

Police keep lid on stats for Indians – Police Chief Commissioner Simon Overland has admitted there are ''limitations'' in the statistics he and Premier John Brumby have been relying on to inform the public about Indians as victims of crime - and he won't release them – Melbourne Age

Sydney bids to poach Indian students from MelbourneSydney is making a bid to poach Indian students from Melbourne with a campaign to promote NSW as a safe study destination – Melbourne Herald Sun

Transport

Weekly tickets a costly stuff-up - new public transport ticketing system is in a shambles after it was found the boundaries used to calculate the cost of trips were wrong. Passengers will pay up to $3 more for a weekly ticket than they were originally told, but the Government has failed to alert those affected – Sydney Daily Telegraph

Foreign affairs


COAG

States holding PM prisoner, claims Tony Abbott – Tony Abbott has criticised Kevin Rudd's reliance on the Council of Australian Governments as a driver of reform, saying the Prime Minister has become "a prisoner" of Labor state premiers. And Julia Gillard has defended the government's record in the face of ongoing opposition criticism of its failure to deliver election promises. The comments came yesterday as the government and opposition continued to lay the political groundwork for this year's election campaign – The Australian

Child welfare

At-risk kids spark stoush over welfare and parenting – A constitutional stoush has been sparked by a Family Court ruling that it can compel state welfare agencies to take a role in the parenting of at-risk children. Judge Robert Benjamin ruled that he had the power to impose a parental responsibility order on a state agency when there were "no other alternatives" for at-risk children. The Tasmanian government has appealed against the judgment, which legal sources say could end up in the High Court, with the commonwealth backing the ruling and other states taking a keen interest – The Australian

Defence

Two subs out of action for 9 years – Two of Australia's six trouble-racked Collins class submarines will be out of action for a combined total of at least nine years. The revelation is another blow to the reputation of Australia's multibillion-dollar submarine fleet, which has been dogged by mechanical problems since HMAS Collins was launched in 1996 – Melbourne Age

War games with Burma row – Military contacts with the Rangoon junta including joint naval exercises involving Australian and Burmese warships did not compromise the government's strong diplomatic stand against Burma's thuggish military regime, Senate Estimates was told yesterday – The Australian

Police

Brumby backs OPI, dismisses inquiry calls – Premier John Brumby has thrown his support behind Victoria's police watchdog despite its botched handling of perjury allegations against a former high-ranking police officer – Melbourne Age

Police criticised for delays in internal investigations – The crisis engulfing Queensland Police has deepened with the Bligh Government accusing the service of undermining public confidence by taking too long to investigate themselves – Brisbane Courier Mail

Development

Union Hall given heritage listing, throwing uni plans into chaos - The decision throws into disarray the $77 million plans by the University of Adelaide to demolish the hall and build a major new science centre and lecture hall in its place – Adelaide Advertiser

Opinions

Labor at crossroads in test of Rudd's character – Paul Kelly thinks the transformation of climate change politics has left the Rudd government struggling: the domestic consensus is shattered, global co-operation is in retreat and Kevin Rudd faces a decisive test of his political courage – The Australian

Indian students, racism and a debate spiralling out of control – Paul Austin in the Melbourne Age says John Brumby has lost control of the violence-against-Indians debate. That's scary for a premier who likes to be in control. Scarier still that it's happening in an election year.

Brumby blind to the racism everyone else can see – writes Greg Sheridan in The Australilan

Trust savvy gen Y to smell a rat - Two funny things happened this week - the Prime Minister was punked on ABC TV's Q&A program by 400 sharp-tongued gen Ys who looked as if they had "cynic" stamped on their foreheads. And history's most watched Superbowl game featured an Audi ad about "green police" which satirised environmental zealotry. If you wanted proof of a shift in the zeitgeist, these two video exhibits would win the case – Miranda Devine in the Sydney Morning Herald

Abbott faces wild ride over river stance - Wild rivers are a matter of national interest and a truly federal scheme would be welcome, but unfortunately the Opposition Leader's trip down these rough waters appears to be mainly motivated by trying to win the federal seat of Leichhardt for Liberal Party member Warren Entsch writes Geoff Moseley in the Melbourne Age

Rudd should defend his legacy, not Bligh's law - Tony Abbott's bill to protect Aboriginal property rights in Queensland is truly liberal argues Noel Pearson in The Australian

Twitter gives Rudd a taste of real time democracy – Gordon Farrer in the Melbourne Age says it was a perfect example of the social web in action: as the Prime Minister fielded questions from 200 young Australians on the ABC's live Q&A program on Monday night, his performance was being critiqued in real time by a horde of viewers using Twitter.

International education needs fixing - This sector is crying out for a national body to shape its future is the opinion of Stephen Connolly in the Melbourne Age

Ruddspeak: verbal hyperinflation – Paul Sheehan in the Sydney Morning Herald on how in parliamentary question time these days we fine verbal hyper inflation - questions are taking more than 50 per cent longer to answer than they did before Kevin Rudd turned up, thanks to long-winded ministers, exacerbated by excessive points of order, notably from the leader of opposition business in the house, Christopher Pyne.

Colleagues zip up Barnaby – Dennis Shanahan in The Australian reports that Tony Abbott has been forced to act on Barnaby Joyce's loose public commentary, not so much by the Rudd government's unrelenting attack as by the serious concerns of his Liberal and Nationals colleagues.

Labor links or not, Keane's the right person for the job – Chris Merritt writes in The Australian that if Pat Keane were not such a fine judge, it would be tempting to see his appointment as proof that the "Queensland mafia" is now running Australia.

It's time to wind back the spin on insulation scheme – writes Dennis Atkins in the Brisbane Courier Mail. Environment Minister Peter Garrett has over-stepped the mark in his defence of the ceiling insulation scheme.

The perils of popular appeal – Arthur Sinodinos in The Australian suggests the US President and the PM can dwell on their diminishing positions in the polls

WWF concocts its own beautiful set of numbers - The conservation group has for years been playing fast and loose with the facts alleges Alan Oxley in The Australian

Too many people packed into dirty, crowded cities - If we maintain anything like this rate of growth in the years to come, I believe it will be a disaster. The way of life we love in Australia will be forever changed as we are crowded into packed and dirty cities – Dick Smith in the Sydney Daily Telegraph

Punished for doing the right thing for old age – Piers Akerman in the Sydney Daily Telegraph on Kevin Rudd describing a broken promise on superannuation as merely “fine-tuning at the edges”.

Don't let the notion of a clever country become a dumb idea – If Jill Singer hears Kevin Rudd say  "you know what" again she’s going to hunt him down and make a citizen's arrest for crimes against our language – Melbourne Herald Sun

BUSINESS

China steps up Stern Hu bribe case – Chinese prosecutors last night stepped up their case against Stern Hu and three Rio Tinto colleagues by formally indicting them for "illegally accepting huge amounts of money" and obtaining commercial secrets at the expense of Chinese steel mills – Melbourne Age


Ripper result for cautious Commonwealth Bank – Ralph Norris's five years at the helm of CBA have resulted in what UBS's John Mott yesterday called the best bank result in the world – The Australian

CBA: Please excuse our embarrassing profit - It defies the natural order of press releases that a major company reporting an incredible record result in what was supposed to be a still fragile economic environment somehow avoided all use of that word “record” – Melbourne Age

BHP trounces market forecasts - BHP Billiton, the nation's biggest company and world's No 1 resources house, has delivered its worst first-half underlying profit in four years, as the global financial crisis slashed commodities prices and demand from their previous boom-time levels – The Australian

Clive Palmer stands by deal claim – Billionaire Clive Palmer was scrambling yesterday to restore the credibility of his weekend announcement of a huge job-creating coal contract with a Chinese power company, which had Premier Anna Bligh in raptures – Brisbane Courier Mail

Forrest demands unified ore price - Iron ore billionaire Andrew Forrest has weighed into the debate over mining royalties, backing Premier Colin Barnett's call for multinational giants BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto to pay more for the State's resources – The West Australian

ENVIRONMENT

Brumby gushes over addition to water supply - When Premier John Brumby pushed the button for water to flow out of the north-south pipeline and into Sugarloaf Reservoir, there was barely a two-minute delay before it gushed out, connecting Melbourne's water supply to the Murray-Darling Basin for the first time – Melbourne Age

MEDIA

Stokes defends licence-fee cut as protecting Australian content – Seven Network director Ryan Stokes has defended the Rudd government's decision to cut licence fees paid by commercial television networks amid further criticism that the $250 million handout is not explicitly tied to the production of local content – The Australian

Dramas looming over big TV grants – Commercial television networks should be banned from using government funds to boost the bottom line, and the money diverted to making local dramas, a media analyst said yesterday – Sydney Daily Telegraph

PBL plans $150m central print site in Sydney's west - PBL Media is pushing ahead with an ambitious expansion in the printing business, planning a $150 million facility, with up to seven presses, in Sydney's west – The Australian

LIFE

Real estate

East Keilor: land of the affordable $1m house – The state government-owned developer that has responsibility for providing affordable housing is selling house and land packages in East Keilor for close to $1 million – Melbourne Age

The drink

New magistrate's drink driving past no obstacle – A commercial lawyer who once had his licence suspended for drink-driving has been appointed a magistrate and was described by the Attorney-General as being impressive – Melbourne Age

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