Thursday, 18 February 2010

Media wrap - Attacks on Garrett and Conroy continue


POLITICS AND ECONOMICS

Insulation

Insulators call for halt to rollout – The Rudd government's trouble-prone home insulation program should be immediately shelved, a key industry leader told a Senate inquiry yesterday, amid startling claims substandard materials may have been used in up to 400,000 Australian properties fitted under the taxpayer-funded scheme – The Australian

Reputable companies foiled by insulation cowboys – In 23 years of fitting homes with foil insulation, Brisbane company Silverline has a perfect safety record. But now the small but previously successful family business has been forced to dismiss most of its staff after the government cut metal products from its stricken $2.45 billion insulation program – The Australian

Who's gonna save me? – Jennifer Hewett writes how Environment Minister Peter Garrett is enduring a scarifying fall from political grace – The Australian

Peter Garrett returns to the Batt cave – Industry leaders yesterday claimed shoddy workmanship and materials left up to 400,000 Australian homes receiving no benefit from Peter Garrett's $2.5 billion insulation program – Sydney Daily Telegraph

Communications

Conroy enjoys his sport and the hospitable company – Stephen Conroy has been a guest of the three commercial television networks at some of Australia's biggest sporting events during his time as Communications Minister. The extent of the largesse received by the sports-loving minister adds to the appearance of a conflict of interest after his decision to offer a rebate to the free-to-air TV networks worth $250 million over the next two years – The Australian

Conroy digs himself a hole in outback – The Rudd government's $43 billion broadband rollout finally hit the Australian mainland yesterday, in a corner of the bush that was just about as far away from anywhere a besieged Stephen Conroy could get – The Australian

Pay TV giants turn on Labor in broadcast battle - Senior figures from Foxtel and its part owner, News Ltd have told the Herald they are fed up with what they regard as a steady stream of largesse being directed towards the ABC and the free-to-air commercial television stations – Sydney Morning Herald

Elections

Rudd cancels Gallipoli trip – Kevin Rudd has suggested Governor-General Quentin Bryce attend the 95th anniversary of the Gallipoli landings in Turkey on Anzac Day in his place as he cuts back on international travel in an election year – The Australian

Lifesaving clubs still waiting for tanks promised before federal election – Kevin Rudd is struggling to deliver on his 2007 election promise to put rainwater tanks on the roof of every surf lifesaving club in the nation – The Australian


Southern Expressway to be duplicated, announces SA Premier Mike Rann – Premier Mike Rann says he will end the "farcical one-way regime" and embark on a $445 million duplication of the Southern Expressway – Adelaide Advertiser

How Isobel Redmond was trumped on the Southern Expressway issue – The Liberals have dropped the ball on the Southern Expressway by vowing to duplicate the road - but refusing to give any details today – Adelaide Advertiser

Grubby business

Rudd's $250m fee cut a win for 'Nellie vision' – The Federal Government gave $250 million to commercial TV networks to ensure "Auntie Nellie" could watch Underbelly, MasterChef and Packed to the Rafters, Kevin Rudd says.  Launching his strongest defence of the handout so far, the Prime Minister said TV licence fee cuts would avoid service interruptions after the switch to digital broadcasting – Melbourne Herald Sun

Political lurks and perks

Scrapped superannuation surcharge windfall for public servants, ministerial staff and MPs – Senior public servants and former ministerial staff will join MPs in receiving windfalls when the Federal Government pays back millions of dollars wrongly collected under the scrapped superannuation surcharge. The Australian Taxation Office yesterday issued a draft statement indicating that money collected from them would be reimbursed – Adelaide “Advertiser

Tax windfall for MPs, fat cats - Hundreds of current and retired WA MPs, their media minders and the most senior public servants have each won windfalls of up to $100,000 after a tax office ruling that they had been taxed wrongly on their superannuation contributions – The West Australian

Foreign affairs

Bali executions bad for Rudd, says embassy – Australian embassy officials in Jakarta have told Indonesian authorities the possible executions of three of the Bali Nine is a highly sensitive issue for the Rudd government in an election year – The Australian

Aid workers earning more than RuddThe Australian looks at who is getting paid what to administer Australia’s foreign aid

Economic matters

Treasurer faces angry miners – Wayne Swan has started talks with the mining industry over new tax proposals in the Henry tax review against a background of angry mining companies believing the Treasury secretary did not consult them properly about new resources taxes – The Australian

Defence top brass feeling cuts - It's among the top brass that the cuts are hurting the most. Gone will be their butlers, chauffeur-driven limousines and first class air travel. And the razor gang has told all Defence staff to cut at least one flight in five from their travel schedules to save millions on air fares – Sydney Daily Telegraph

Political life

Minister's gaffe on public housing waiting lists – The state government has made an embarrassing election-year gaffe on public housing waiting lists, falsely claiming they had gone down across Victoria – Melbourne Age

Near miss for Abbott – Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has narrowly avoided a major car accident during a visit to a notorious single-lane stretch of the Princes HighwayMelbourne Age

Tony Abbott praises 'lifesaver' truck driver after close call on the roads – It was to have been just another routine day for a politician touring regional centres - lots of driving, lots of talking to locals and a compulsory treat of scones at the end – Sydney Daily Telegraph

Tony Abbott needs 'kick in the bum' says furious truck company chief – The owner of the truck that almost ploughed into Tony Abbott's car near Geelong yesterday said the Opposition Leader needed "a kick in the bum" – Sydney Daily Telegraph

Liberals want hip operation inquiry – A day after federal Labor MP Belinda Neal was accused of offering a senior ALP branch member a medical favour in return for her vote, Deputy Premier Carmel Tebbutt confirmed an MP approached health officials requesting help for a constituent – Sydney Daily Telegraph

Health and hospitals

Health funds profiteering, claims minister – Health funds say increased consumer use of health services is sending their costs skyrocketing but they are under pressure from federal Health Minister Nicola Roxon, who has suggested they are profiteering – The Australian

Transport

Metro is doomed as start delayed – The metro system is dead, with the Keneally government to abandon plans to begin work on the project this year, amid a push from Treasury officials to delay the lines for 20 years – Sydney Morning Herald

Metro headed for disaster: Opposition – The $5.3 billion CBD Metro could become a disaster akin to the Cross City Tunnel and Lane Cove Tunnel, built on shaky patronage forecasts, the NSW Opposition and Greens warned yesterday, after revelations that key internal planning documents and data had been manipulated to justify the project – Sydney Morning Herald

Labor Party affairs

Unsigned forms place ALP elections in doubt in Tasmania – Hundreds of ALP members in Tasmania have not signed their membership renewal forms, prompting claims they are not valid party members and that years of party ballots are invalid – The Australian

Privacy

Call to control police use of DNA – Law enforcement agencies should not be allowed to use DNA samples provided by victims of crime to implicate them in future offences, the federal privacy watchdog says, and their samples should be stored separately to those of criminals – Sydney Morning Herald

Industrial relations

War of words over top teachers' pay rise – The state government escalated its battle with teachers yesterday when the Education Minister, Verity Firth, and her federal counterpart, Julia Gillard, attacked the union for trying to oppose a plan to pay 13 teachers $101,846 each under a new category of highly accomplished teacher – Sydney Morning Herald

Employers should put workers' entitlements first, says AWU – The powerful Australian Workers Union has begun a push to force major companies to guarantee full employee entitlements ranking them ahead of all other creditors as it begins its latest round of industrial negotiations with Australia's mining giants – The Australian


Spas

Drain ban a start but law must deal with old spas, says Royal Life Saving – Older spas and ones imported from China and sold in Australia without passing thorough safety checks continue to pose a serious risk, lifesaving and industry figures warn – Sydney Morning Herald

Local government

Council gets no credit in audit – A damning eport has exposed serious deficiencies in the way the Townsville City Council manages its financial reporting obligations. The Queensland Audit Office has identified a raft of inconsistencies and anomalies in the council's financial reporting and asset management systems – Townsville Bulletin

Defence

German army testing new equipment at Woomera – The German Army has invaded Outback South Australia. But it's a friendly force from the European powerhouse, which is testing the breaking point of new armaments against the backdrop of the harsh and hot conditions of the Woomera Prohibited Area – Adelaide Advertiser

Opinions

Spin and silver tongues can't hide an empty morality – Miranda Devine in the Sydney Morning Herald that attempts by the Environment Minister, Peter Garrett, to brazen out the burning batts fiasco is symptomatic of the malaise afflicting the Rudd government this election year. Every day the bungled home insulation program provides new disasters and every day the government jumps through linguistic hoops to avoid admitting responsibility, as if spin alone will absolve it.

Tackling the future of transport starts now – Brett Gale in the Sydney Morning Herald writes that it's a good thing that considered, serious debate about transport is back on the front pages, and the Christie report is a comprehensive, timely and positive contribution to the transport debate in Sydney.

Clear the air with India - Fergus Hanson and Rory Medcalf in The Australian argue that an independent inquiry into attacks on Indian students would show we're serious

The elderly can pay for nursing homes – Gary Johns in The Australian reckons that candidates for aged care can sell the family home to share the cost.

Climate target is foolhardy – Alan Moran in The Australian says no one else is unconditionally cutting emissions, so why are we?

Backroom TV deal corrupts our policy - The $250 million gift by the Rudd government to the commercial TV networks is corrupt, not in the sense of brown paper bags but in its corruption of public governance says Michael Stutchbury in The Australian

Rudd bumped by opposition story – Yesterday Kevin Rudd called a media conference but was unable to set his intended agenda, strayed into negative topics and got upstaged on the evening television news by Tony Abbott almost getting hit by a truck. There was no sign of the frontrunning, confident politician in charge of a media conference positively promoting his own policies and deftly smothering the Coalition agenda – The Australian

Tehran on path to our destruction – Greg Sheridan believes that the balance of probabilities is that Iran will ultimately have a nuclear arsenal – The Australian

Labor's tide begins to turn – Paul Austin in the Melbourne Age asks if we witnessing the beginning of the end of the Bracks/Brumby government, the most successful and enduring Labor administration in the 154-year history of Victoria's parliamentary democracy?

Stop hiring star pollies – Apart from his ministerial incompetence, Peter Garrett has a critical political problem that he will never overcome. He's a celebrity politician, and impossible to take seriously – Neil Mitchell in the Melbourne Herald Sun

BUSINESS

Resources rent tax ruckus... Fix it, dear Henry – Adele Ferguson in the Sydney Morning Herald writes that a combination of leaks and the Rudd government's need to raise revenue suggests the Henry Tax Review is more about lifting taxes than genuine tax reform.

ENVIRONMENT

Cat food lures meat ants to kill off cane toads - Scientists from the University of Sydney have discovered that native meat ants can be lured by cat food to kill cane toads – Brisbane Courier Mail

Protesters bound for Hobart – Anti-whaling vessel the Steve Irwin is set for a triumphant return to Hobart next week.  It comes as Tasmanian Greens senator Bob Brown says he will push to have imprisoned anti-whaling campaigner Pete Bethune released – Hobart Mercury

MEDIA

Killers who bashed Saudanese refugee Liep Gony to death can be identified after Herald Sun campaign - Fears of jailyard payback for the horrific crime persuaded Justice Elizabeth Curtain to keep their faces secret when sentencing them in December. But on Wednesday Justice Curtain agreed to the Herald Sun's request to lift the ban, overturning her earlier ruling that their safety was more important than the public's right to see their faces – Melbourne Herald Sun

Australian Idol could be facing chop as key staff jump ship to Australia's Got Talent - Production company FremantleMedia has allowed the show's executive producers Greg Beness and Suzanne Mitchell to switch to Channel Seven's Australia's Got Talent, which it also produces – Melbourne Herald Sun

Radio host quits 'vile' Alice Facebook site as group steps it upAlice Springs radio presenter Adrian Renzi has quit a Facebook group that blames Aborigines for all the woes of the Territory town – Northern Territory News

LIFE

Law and order

Woolworths buyer in alleged scam – A Woolworths executive has been sacked amid a police investigation into an alleged kickback scheme involving the retail giant. Bill Harvey, Woolworths' national buyer for coffee, tea and sugar, was detained by police at the company's Sydney headquarters on Friday. In a simultaneous move, detectives in Melbourne arrested a retail broker over the alleged scheme. The man was questioned and released. Charges are believed to be pending – Melbourne Age

Elliott Fletcher death prompts school security review – Security will be reviewed in Catholic schools but parents will have to play a role if the current scourge of knives among youths is to be combated, stakeholders warn – Brisbane Courier Mail

Sex

Government to pay for condoms for prostitutes – Sex product companies are being asked to supply the State Government with coloured, flavoured, ribbed and studded condoms for handing out to prostitutes. NSW Health asked suppliers to quote prices for novelty condoms in its latest tender to keep up with the sex industry's preferred tools of the trade – Sydney Daily Telegraph

Eating

Australian families making a meal of tough times – Australians are dining out on takeaway food at record rates, with figures showing home cooking is at an all-time low – Sydney Daily Telegraph

Motoring

Stickerless plan to lick car registration woes – Those peeling Queensland registration stickers may soon need no replacement as the State Government looks at a sticker-free regime. State Transport Minister Rachel Nolan yesterday confirmed the stickers could soon disappear from Queensland windscreens – Brisbane Courier Mail

Euthanasia

Lobby group claims euthanasia drug is being hoarded – Hundreds of Australians have illegally obtained and are now hoarding lethal doses of a euthanasia drug "just in case", according to end-of-life organisation Exit International – Adelaide Advertiser

Road safety

Deadly enemy right at our doorstep – Territory soldiers are losing their lives on our roads at a far greater rate than on the battlefields of Afghanistan and Iraq. And a devastating rate of drink-driving offences has forced Lieutenant-General Ken Gillespie - the second-in-command of Australia's armed forces - to publicly announce re-offenders would be sacked – Northern Territory News
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