Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Media wrap - Another old timer returns to the centre of the political stage

POLITICS AND ECONOMICS

Leadership

Costello's big swipe at Abbott – Former Liberal treasurer Peter Costello has launched a scathing attack on Tony Abbott's parental leave scheme, savaging its new tax impost as contrary to the party's principles – Melbourne Age

Kevin Rudd tries to mend Labor's rift – Prime Minister Kevin Rudd called a snap meeting of his factional bosses on Monday night to try to overcome growing tension in the Labor caucus over his leadership and treatment of MPs – Sydney Daily Telegraph

Economic matters

Housing drove rate rise – The Reserve Bank has revealed that ''strongly rising'' house prices helped tip its hand when raising interest rates this month. It said prices had ''gained momentum'' and were climbing strongly ''for all but the bottom segment of the market'' – Melbourne Age

Misgivings over minerals boom – As coal mining booms in NSW, the fight for scarce land and water resources has already begun, particularly in the Hunter Valley. Farmers, thoroughbred breeders, wineries and councils are increasingly vocal about what they see as a flawed mine approval process that fails to give them a voice or any certainty about the development of their land. They worry that as the state election looms, a desperate government will prioritise short-term gain over the long-term sustainability of the region – Sydney Morning Herald

World Cup not such a golden goal – The economic benefits of staging international sporting competitions like the soccer World Cup are often exaggerated by backers of these events, says an expert report the federal government has been sitting on – Sydney Morning Herald

RBA cautious on rate rises – The Reserve Bank will press ahead with its campaign of interest rate increases while holding open the option of reversing course and cutting again if Europe's sovereign debt crisis derails the global recovery – The Australian

Stimulus projects

'Time bomb' warning over botched insulationMelbourne families with recently installed home insulation could be living under a time bomb of fire danger, the Metropolitan Fire Brigade says – Melbourne Age

Chinese-made batts, shredded yellow pages may have ended up in roofs – The home insulation debacle worsened after it emerged dodgy Chinese-made batts ended up in tens of thousands of roofs, and even shredded phone books may have been used – Melbourne Herald Sun

Elections

Redmond supports right to challenge – Anxious to present the image of a united Liberal Party, Isobel Redmond yesterday claimed frontbencher Vickie Chapman had every right to "never say never" about a leadership challenge after Saturday's election – The Australian

Winner could be in the mail after surge in postal votes – Postal votes could comprise more than 10 per cent of all the votes in Saturday's South Australian election, accelerating a national trend and raising questions about how ballots will be cast in future – The Australian

Australia Post unable to cope with mail votes – Australia Post is struggling to cope with the increased demand for postal votes this State Election, the Electoral Commissioner expecting up to 90,000 votes to come in by mail – Adelaide Advertiser

Rann flip-flops on Murray-Darling water deal – Mike Rann has been forced to back away from claims he brokered a deal guaranteeing a share of Queensland's floodwaters for the parched lower reaches of the Murray, after his most senior public servant said "no deal has been done" – The Australian

Murray talk turns to water torture – South Australia will get at least 400 billion litres of water from the Queensland floods - but without political support from the premiers of NSW and Queensland, the water could have been held up by bureaucratic red tape – Adelaide Advertiser

Who's up for a party this Saturday at the South Australia State Election? – Climate sceptics, fishing enthusiasts and those who just want to say "On Yer Bike Mike" to the Premier - the ballot papers for Saturday's election offer a bewildering choice for voters. In the Upper House, 35 political parties and independents are vying for just 11 spots. In the Lower House, 32 are jostling for 47 seats – Adelaide Advertiser

Your money's on a Labor win – Bettors have backed in Labor to scrape home in the state election with a late surge of money slashing its price to $1.36 – Adelaide Advertiser


Labor ringing up the dirt – A Bartlett Government MP yesterday revolted against his own party's smear tactics. Sitting Franklin MP Ross Butler last night said he could no longer sit quietly as Labor resorted to distasteful scare campaigns in its desperation to win Saturday's state election – Hobart Mercury

Vandals on graffiti campaign – Vandals have cost political candidates thousands of dollars with graffiti attacks and thefts of election posters.  Candidates across all three major parties have been forced to replace posters in Kingston after they were defaced with black paint over the weekend. Greens leader Nick McKim was given a moustache and devil horns while Liberal leader Will Hodgman had phallic symbols drawn on his head – Hobart Mercury

Probe into pulp mill possible – A re-elected Labor government would welcome an inquiry into the fast-tracking of the Gunns pulp mill approval. Premier David Bartlett wrote to national activist organisation GetUp this week, pledging his support for a full Integrity Commission probe into the way the pulp mill was assessed and approved – Hobart Mercury

Johnson returns to Brisbane as LNP seizes campaign funds – The campaign accounts of federal Liberal MP Michael Johnson have been taken over by Queensland-based party officials, who have yet to endorse him to stand again in this year's election – The Australian

Wyatt Roy in hiding as LNP defends its choice as Longman candidate - The 19-year-old university student has been picked as the Coalition's best hope of winning back the marginal Labor-held seat of Longman at this year's federal election. His weekend preselection was a flashpoint for growing discontent within the federal ranks of the Liberal National Party – Brisbane Courier Mail

MPs in huff over pension – Labor backbenchers who may miss out on an annual pension of $65,000 by only three days are privately fuming at Premier John Brumby. Changes in the members' pension rules mean the 25 MPs elected for the first time in 2002 will be fighting for their political and financial futures at the November 27 election. The class of 2002 fall three days short of meeting the criteria of eight years in the Victorian parliament to qualify for the annual pension because that year's election was held on November 30 – Melbourne Herald Sun

Political life

Big Bronx cheer for the roast of Lang Park - The requited love of opinion polls for Kevin Rudd continues to cool but the Prime Minister may have suffered an even more hurtful rejection. Some 50,000, mainly fellow Queenslanders, at the cauldron of the common man and woman, Lang Park, gave Rudd the biggest boo of his life at Friday's NRL season opener between the Brisbane Broncos and the North Queensland Cowboys – Sydney Morning Herald

Julia Gillard is a lady-in-waiting – Labor MPs have begun to openly talk about Julia Gillard taking over from Kevin Rudd as prime minister. While the Deputy PM's looks have been transformed, so too have her political prospects, with increased chatter in Labor ranks about her strong performance while Mr Rudd's poll approval ratings have fallen – Melbourne Herald Sun

John Howard flies in for Liberals' lunch, but not for campaign – Former prime minister John Howard will fly into Adelaide today for an exclusive fundraising lunch but has not been invited to join the state election campaign – Adelaide Advertiser

Health and hospitals

Small hospitals `could go broke' under Rudd model – More than a quarter of Australia's hospitals could go broke under Kevin Rudd's activity-based funding model, according to expert research commissioned by the NSW Labor government – The Australian

Foreign affairs

Full visit to Indonesia still on agenda - While his trip to Australia has been shortened by a day to just 24 hours, President Barack Obama will spend three days in Jakarta and Bali before he heads for CanberraSydney Morning Herald

Immigration

One last chance for cleric in ASIO's sights - His bridging visa has been extended while the Immigration Minister, Chris Evans - his last chance - considers his plea to intervene. Otherwise, Dr Mansour Leghaei, his wife and one of their four children will be forced back to IranSydney Morning Herald

PM Kevin Rudd backtracks on mainland processing of boatpeople – Asylum-seekers whose claims have not been finalised will be moved to the mainland, overturning the government's policy of insisting almost all claims be dealt with on Christmas Island – The Australian

Industrial relations

Julia Gillard bid to restrict union entry – The Rudd government will seek to overturn a Fair Work Australia ruling that employers fear will give unions unrestricted access to workplaces – The Australian

Broadband

Senate deadline: showdown over broadband document – The stage is set for a Senate showdown over the national broadband network - the government is facing a deadline this morning to produce a key study into its design. A motion moved by the Greens and backed by the opposition last week gave the government until 10am today to table the study it commissioned into the implementation of the network. But it is understood the Communications Minister, Stephen Conroy, will defy the request – Sydney Morning Herald

Development

Docklands $9bn plan for next decade – Nine billion dollars will be poured into Docklands over the next decade, as planning begins for an ambitious next phase of development for the waterside precinct – Melbourne Age

Windsor Hotel revamp wins heritage backing – The controversial redevelopment of the historic Windsor Hotel has cleared a major hurdle, winning the backing of Heritage Victoria – Melbourne Age

Local government

Peppermint Grove resists Barnett lure - Premier Colin Barnett has suggested vesting lucrative parcels of State Government-owned land in the western suburbs to local councils in what has been described as a carrot to get them to merge – The West Australian

Scholarships

Tertiary scholarships flow to rural students – More than 150,000 scholarships will begin to flow to tertiary students from next month after the government and opposition resolved a deadlock over the treatment of rural students – The Australian

Opinions

Rudd, Abbott in wacky race to the bottom of the tax barrel – Peter Costello writes in the Sydney Morning Herald and the Melbourne Age that it doesn't matter whose policy's bigger than whose when both are bad. It’s hard to decide whose idea was worse. First was Kevin Rudd, who announced he wants 30 per cent of the states' GST so he can "fix" the hospital system. Then there was Tony Abbott, who announced he wants to increase company tax to "fix" parental leave.

Power but no passion – Shaun Carney writes in the Melbourne Age that a lack of emotion marked Rudd's rise, and he has failed to win voters' hearts.

Up, up and away: great big tax burdens are here to stay – writes Ross Girttins in the Sydney Morning Herald. The furious reaction to Tony Abbott's promise to use a $2.7 billion-a-year levy on big business to pay for improved parental leave makes it a safe bet the most dishonest and hypocritical things the politicians on both sides will be saying until the election will concern taxation.

PM on verge of becoming a drag on Labor vote – For only the second time in nearly 2 1/2 years, Kevin Rudd's net satisfaction rating as Prime Minister is lower than that of the opposition leader - the first being Malcolm Turnbull's very first poll as leader – writes Pter van Onselen in The Australian

Strength in diverse views – Janet Albrechtsen in The Australian says it was a telling moment when Media Watch host Jonathan Holmes leapt to his feet last week to protest against the critical remarks made by ABC chairman Maurice Newman. Inadvertently, Holmes proved Newman's point.

Macklin's welfare fight is only the beginning – says Paul Kelly in The Australian. Welfare in Australia will enter a new phase of ideological struggle with the Rudd government, spearheaded by Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin, embracing and extending the income management principle.

A simple solution to stop the boats – Andrew Bolt in the Sydney Daily Telegraph says let’s announce that from today we'll send every boatload of "asylum seekers" we intercept to some refugee camp in Indonesia, Pakistan or whichever other country we can persuade to take them. Yes, you're right. Those countries won't want our rejects, so let's make them an offer they can't refuse. For every single boat person they take from us, we'll take two genuine refugees from their camps.

BUSINESS

VB under attack from Tasmania – Foster’s flagship beer, VB, does not have the vice-like grip on barbecues, parties and beer mats it enjoyed 20 years ago, and it has got some beverage analysts worried. The beer of choice under the pergola and around the pool is increasingly Boag's, a beer made in Tasmania, owned by the Japanese and sold by the truckload in Victoria – Melbourne Age

$366m deal for roll-on testosterone – The Melbourne company behind an underarm roll-on that can boost men's testosterone levels -- and, as a result, their flagging sex drive -- has signed what it claims is one of the biggest licensing deals ever by an Australian biotech firm – The Australian

ENVIRONMENT

LG fridges: life's not so good – An electronics manufacturer with a history of making false environmental claims has been caught doctoring fridges to make them appear more energy efficient. LG Electronics has agreed to compensate potentially thousands of consumers after two of its fridges - models L197NFS and P197WFS - were found to contain an illegal device that activates an energy-saving mode when it detects room conditions similar to those in a test laboratory – Melbourne Age

Sea levels 'rising at far greater rate in NT' - Research organisation CSIRO's State of the Climate, published on Monday, shows sea levels in the north and west rose between 7mm and 10mm a year during 1993-2009. It showed the average sea level rise for Australia was 3mm a year in that same period – Northern Territory News

MEDIA

Conroy backs ABC chairman's right to criticise climate change `groupthink' – Communications Minister Stephen Conroy has backed ABC chairman Maurice Newman's right to comment on the corporation's editorial direction after he was slammed by staff for attacking "groupthink" in climate change coverage – The Australian

LIFE

Swine flu

Swine flu jabs may be wasted – Millions of doses of the Commonwealth's swine flu vaccine could expire as people opt for the new seasonal flu vaccine, which provides broader protection for the year ahead, a Victorian doctor says – Melbourne Age

Education

Our unis could set up in India - Australian universities would be free to set up campuses and issue degrees in one of the world's biggest education markets if an Indian government plan to open up its tertiary education sector to foreign competition wins the support of parliament – Sydney Morning Herald

Yearn to earn put on hold as students stick to education – More young people are opting to learn rather than earn, with the proportion of those staying on in education instead of taking a job increasing in the past 10 years. A new Australian Bureau of Statistics report finds that, although the overall proportion of 15-24-year-olds "fully engaged in either education or work" has hovered around 81 per cent since 1999, those in education rose from 45 per cent to 48 per cent – The Australian

Law and order

Police prepare to ask for order declaring group criminal – Police are preparing to lodge their first application to have one of the state's bikie gangs declared a criminal organisation, possibly within days – Sydney Morning Herald

Triple-O go-slow hurts crime fight in Sydney – Only two urgent response police cars patrol some Sydney suburbs, leaving the community unprotected – Sydney Daily Telegraph

Trade unions

Key union strategist quits after bitter leadership brawl – The ACTU is facing a destabilising run into the federal election with the loss of its most senior strategist, Cath Bowtell, who had been instrumental in the Your Rights at Work campaign that assisted the election of a Labor government in 2007 – Sydney Morning Herald

ACTU `brains' quits after failed power bid – The ACTU has been dealt a blow with senior industrial officer Cath Bowtell announcing she will quit the peak union council following her unsuccessful bid to take over from Sharan Burrow – The Australian

Racism

Victorian police chief Simon Overland admits racists in ranks - Police Chief Commissioner Simon Overland is embroiled in another race row after admitting that there are bigots on his force. Mr Overland, whose public standing took a hit from his clumsy handling of the furore surrounding attacks on Indians living in Melbourne, yesterday conceded there were racists in his ranks – The Australian

Taxation

Banks warning clients of penalties – Thousands of high net worth investors using offshore tax haven accounts have been contacted by their banks and warned they could face huge penalties, following an Australian Taxation Office crackdown – The Australian
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