Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Media wrap - Diversionary plans: Education yesterday - Health tomorrow

POLITICS AND ECONOMICS

Health and hospitals

Kevin Rudd to cut away the dead tissue of our ailing health care system – The Federal Government will move to seize control of hospital funding from the states in a provocative reform of the nation's health system to be announced this week – Sydney Daily Telegraph

Kevin Rudd refocuses on health basics – Kevin Rudd has promised to take his government "back to basics" on service delivery and will underline the move this week with the release of a fundamental shake-up of the health system – The Australian

Polls

Personal vote for Tony Abbott now close to Kevin Rudd's – Tony Abbott's personal appeal to voters has continued to grow as he becomes the best-placed Leader of the Opposition since the last election, cutting back Kevin Rudd's lead as preferred prime minister and keeping the Coalition's primary vote at its highest for more than two years – The Australian

Privacy

Medicare privacy breaches shake e-health legislation – Revelations that Medicare Australia has investigated 1058 employees for possible unauthorised access to client records in the past three years may rock a Senate inquiry into the controversial Healthcare Identifiers Bill – The Australian

Economic matters

Odds on for rate rise, but punters bet on no change – Millions of Australians stand to suffer if, as expected, the Reserve Bank lifts interest rates by a further 0.25 points this afternoon. But for one big-spending punter the pain will be extreme. The Sydney man, a Centrebet regular, has staked just short of $30,000 on the Reserve Bank sitting on its hands – Sydney Morning Herald

Reserve backs Labor on debt – Reserve Bank governor Glenn Stevens has backed the government's claim its net debt will peak at no more than 10 per cent of GDP, saying its finances are in "terrific shape" – The Australian

Digging a hole for ourselves - If the Reserve Bank and federal Treasury are right, it is not only the world that is heading into a two-speed recovery. Australia is facing the same future - with Victoria one of the states on the slow track – Melbourne Age

Abattoir workers fear beef imports will destroy their jobs - Countries previously hit by mad cow disease - including the US, UK and Canada - can, as of yesterday, apply to export red meat to Australia. The move has sparked warnings that supermarket sales of red meat could plummet and has left some beef producers and abattoir workers worried about their jobs – Sydney Daily Telegraph

Rate hikes on horizon after business valuations slashedQueensland ratepayers could see their rates bill jump by up to 27 per cent if a legal decision to slash valuations for shopping centres and commercial premises remains unchallenged, councils claim – Brisbane Courier Mail

RBA boss slams international bank liquidity guidelines – Reserve Bank governor Glenn Stevens has criticised the banking regulator's draft guidelines on bank liquidity, arguing a light touch should be applied to re-regulating the banking system – The Australian


Elections

Forshaw forswears Senate spot, and Neal in tight battle – The NSW Labor senator Michael Forshaw has announced his resignation, paving the way for dumped ALP general secretary Matt Thistlethwaite to take his spot on the Senate ticket. Also yesterday, the MP for Robertson, Belinda Neal, and her challenger, Deb O'Neill, were confident of victory in this Saturday's preselection battle for the seat. – Sydney Morning Herald

Brumby admits to ordinary performance - John Brumby has admitted his government has been "found wanting" on key issues of transport and street violence, just nine months before the state election – Melbourne Age

Hodgman doubts woodchip claim – Liberal leader Will Hodgman has called on the State Government to explain claims of a 800,000-tonne woodchip sale – Hobart Mercury

Security

AFP on forged passports trail to Israel – The Australian Federal Police will send a team of agents to Israel this week to investigate how forged Australian passports were used in the assassination of a Hamas leader – Sydney Morning Herald

PM pushes for answer in passport scandal – Prime Minister Kevin Rudd says the forged-passport scandal has ''ways to go'' and Israel owes a proper explanation about the use of Australian passports in an apparent assassination in DubaiMelbourne Age


Corruption

ICAC hears dog kennel corruption claims – An air conditioned kennel with room for 21 dogs is at the centre of corruption allegations involving two TAFE teachers and a former greyhound trainer – Sydney Daily Telegraph

Education

Give Britain its due or we'll can it: opposition – The federal Coalition has threatened to scrap the new national curriculum, saying it places too much emphasis on indigenous and Asian perspectives at the expense of British and European culture – Sydney Morning Herald

Back to basics on national education - Experts who have designed the back-to-basics curriculum, which has heavy emphasis on grammar and phonics, said yesterday many teachers would have to be re-educated before they were competent to teach it from next year – Sydney Daily Telegraph

National curriculum 'a back to basics' – English and maths classes will return to basics, history will explore Sorry Day alongside Anzac Day and science will be made more interesting – Brisbane Courier Mail

School curriculum trial secrecy – The names of the 14 Tasmanian schools among the first to road-test the national curriculum proposal are being kept secret – Hobart Mercury

Teachers warn three months insufficient to prepare for new curriculum – The "impossible" task of introducing a new national curriculum into schools by next year could lead to it being "left on a shelf to gather dust" by teachers, the Federal Government was warned yesterday – Adelaide Advertiser

Political life

Scapegoat claim by MP's axed staffer – A staff member who made corruption allegations against the state Labor MP Karyn Paluzzano says an investigation into his own conduct was a charade designed to discredit him – Sydney Morning Herald

Saying sorry a vote winner, claims Peter Beattie – The man who turned saying sorry into a political art form, crisis-prone former Queensland premier Peter Beattie, yesterday insisted Kevin Rudd's weekend mea culpa will be seen as an act of "humility and directness" among voters – The Australian

Public administration

A-G Robert McClelland to overhaul department – Attorney General Robert McClelland will overhaul the commonwealth legal services, telling two internal reviews that issues with the policy of outsourcing had "hindered the ability to consider legal issues in a whole-of-government context" – The Australian

Aboriginal affairs

Grim day confronts speechless Abbott – The Tony Abbott straight-talking express blew into Alice Springs yesterday, an apparition as mystifying to the locals as the deluge which has filled the Todd River and the homeless shelters of the central Australian town over the past couple of days. And for once the loquacious Opposition Leader appeared stumped for words as he met three elderly Aboriginal inhabitants of Hoppy's Camp, two men and a woman making do in an open-air shelter, cooking a meal amid a few meagre possessions – Sydney Morning Herald

Backlog of Aboriginal land claims still high - More than 20,700 hectares of government land worth $70 million has been granted to indigenous people in NSW under the Aboriginal Land Rights Act in the past 18 months – Sydney Morning Herald

The grim reality of life at Hoppy's Camp, Alice Springs – Abbott visit – Sydney Daily Telegraph

NT Govt tries to gag talk on SIHIP dramas - Documents reveal the Government has been negotiating new contracts with shires to provide housing maintenance and tenancy management in remote communities. The contracts include a clause banning elected council members, staff and private contractors from discussing any indigenous housing problems with the media. And, in an unprecedented move, the Government was using the contract secrecy clause to stop shires from publicly criticising the unrelated Strategic Indigenous Housing and Infrastructure Program – Northern Territory ews

The sexes

Women's pay worse than in 1985 – Women’s lack of progress towards equal pay is to be placed on the federal election agenda, with unions set to conduct a public and political campaign calling for government intervention – Sydney Morning Herald

Law and order

New police unit 'just a PR stunt' – A former police inspector who claims he was hounded out of the force for highlighting a lack of resources says the formation of a rapid response unit is just another publicity stunt – Melbourne Age

Opinions

Penitent PM a sorry figure – The sight of Kevin Rudd belatedly doing the rounds of radio and television stations to say sorry first for the debacle that is the $2.5 billion insulation scheme, then for everything else that is going wrong, down to my bad hair day, reminded me of Sybil insisting Basil get out there and apologise to guests at Fawlty Towers for the latest atrocity – Nikki Savva in The Australian

Contrition has not fixed PM problems – Dennis Shanahan in The Australian says Kevin Rudd didn't get the "whacking" he predicted in the latest Newspoll but nor has taking the blame and asking for forgiveness solved his problems.


Whatever it decides, RBA won't be citing balance of payments deficit – The Reserve Bank will have some explaining to do if it does not lift its 3.75 per cent cash rate to 4 per cent today, given the rebound in jobs, housing prices, corporate profits and business investment. But the one indicator the central bank will not cite is the widening balance of payments deficit after the government's budget stimulus leaked into imports late last year. That could become more of an issue for the Rudd government – Michael Stutchbury in The Australian

Whirlwind education reform leaves nation's teachers in a spin – The new curriculum is designed to give the Education Minister, Julia Gillard, something tangible to offer voters come election time later this year - the problems will come later, as teachers (who were not consulted in the curriculum drafting process) struggle to teach unfamiliar subjects – Anna Patty in the Sydney Morning Herald

Full marks for trying, but could do better – Lenore Taylor writes in the Sydney Morning Herald that Tony Abbott has yet to see a Labor policy he likes. Even policies he has previously supported. The Coalition talked for years about a back-to-basics curriculum like the one unveiled by Julia Gillard yesterday. So you would think Abbott would be pleased, right? Wrong. He said it was ''political correctness run riot''.

Resurrecting Greece - Athens taps Canberra's brains trust – Peter Hartcher in the Sydney Morning Herald writes how Soon after he was elected prime minister last October, George Papandreou was in conversation with Kevin Rudd. When he expressed frustration at the structure of the Greek system of government, Rudd offered to help. Specifically, he offered the services of the secretary of Australia's Attorney-General's Department, Roger Wilkins. So when Wilkins is not busy running the Commonwealth's law office, he is advising Greece on how to restructure its system of government.

Abbott picks wrong target in battle for hearts and minds – writes Gerard Henderson in the Sydney Morning Herald. There is little point in Abbott trying to score points by alleging that Rudd exaggerates the national security threat. After all, the legislation which led to the convictions in Melbourne and Sydney was introduced by John Howard's government.

Less will mean more in national curriculum – Tim Hawkes in the Sydney Morning Herald says there will be a resigned weariness among many teachers in having to accommodate yet more curriculum change. The capacity for educational bureaucrats to justify their existence by fiddling with what should be taught in schools is legendary.

Curriculum's narrow focus leaves students bereft of big ideas – argues Libby Tudball in the Melbourne Age

No death penalty, no shades of grey – George Williams in the Sydney Morning Herald reckons the Death Penalty Abolition Bill debated in Federal Parliament last week is the most important initiative on the death penalty for decades.

Family law does not put children first - Alastair Nicholson, a former chief justice of the Family Court and is an honorary professorial fellow at Melbourne University, writes in the Melbourne Age that we have already had examples in Australia of courts making orders that endanger children because the full picture is not before them. It is high time that this situation changed.

Kevin Rudd must grasp the initiative – Kevin Williams in the Brisbane Courier Mail writes that there are three very powerful reasons the Prime Minister would be well advised to call an election – even a double dissolution – as soon as possible.

Look out Kevin, it's Julia who's driving the crucial class action – Phillip Hudson writes in the Melbourne Herald Sun that Julia Gillard really has presided over an education revolution. She has forced through radical changes, but they are anything but Left-wing.


BUSINESS

Alcoa deal locks in jobs - and emissions – The biggest consumer of Victoria's brown-coal-fired electricity is to continue operating for decades after the surprise announcement of a long-term power deal for Alcoa's controversial aluminium smelters – Melbourne Age

Smelter power deals - Alcoa-managed aluminium smelters at Geelong and Portland in western Victoria are to live on until at least 2036 after striking multibillion-dollar power supply deals with the brown coal-fired Loy Yang A power station in the Latrobe ValleyMelbourne Age

Ore exports set to blitz WA recordThe West Australian

ENVIRONMENT
Logging 'a threat to wildlife' – State-sanctioned logging of old-growth forest in East Gippsland poses a risk to threatened and endangered species and is at odds with the government's own legislation, an environment group has said – Melbourne Age
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