Monday, 15 March 2010

Media wrap - Is it a time for hung Parliaments?

POLITICS AND ECONOMICS

Elections

Gen Y could decide Rudd's poll hopes – An army of first-time voters could hold the key to this year's federal election, according to experts, but Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Opposition Leader Tony Abbott will have to motivate them to vote – Sydney Daily Telegraph

Televised debate between Kristina Keneally and Barry O'Farrell – Premier Kristina Keneally and Opposition Leader Barry O'Farrell have agreed to go head-to-head in a televised debate, hosted by The Daily Telegraph and Sky News, exactly a year before the State election – Sydney Daily Telegraph

AMA tells Liberals to scrap Royal Adelaide Hospital policy – Liberal Party plans to rebuild the Royal Adelaide Hospital for $700 million should be scrapped, the Australian Medical Association says – Adelaide Advertiser

Independents coy on whom they will support under a hung parliamentSouth Australia faces a period of electoral paralysis after Saturday's election because independents, expected to hold the balance of power, say they will take days or even weeks to determine which major party they will support – Adelaide Advertiser

Parties push for majority – The Labor and Liberal parties have ramped up their campaigns asking Tasmanians to elect only a majority government. The latest push to discourage growing Greens support coincides with a new EMRS opinion poll predicting Saturday's election is likely to deliver a hung parliament – Hobart Mercury

Greens' balancing act in Tasmania – The Greens' hold on a balance of power in next Saturday's Tasmanian election appears to be strengthening, with voters yet to respond to warnings by the major parties – Melbourne Age

Health, jobs dominate in leaders' debate for Tasmanian election – As the Tasmanian election campaign enters its final week, Labor Premier David Bartlett and Liberal leader Will Hodgman last night clashed during the only televised leaders' debate over their visions for the state – The Australian

John Howard tips 'authentic' Tony Abbott for election battle – John Howard has launched a scathing attack on his successor, claiming Kevin Rudd has "done nothing" in government, that the economic stimulus was "too big" and that Labor lacks the courage for reform – The Australian

Political life

Julia came, she thawed and … concord – Julia Gillard has sought to warm the government's relationship with the Premier, Kristina Keneally, after a prime ministerial snub in front of cameras last week. The Deputy Prime Minister yesterday praised Ms Keneally's work ethic and emphasised the strong co-operation between the two Labor governments – Sydney Morning Herald

Immigration

I'm staying put, declares Iranian sheik - has been given just days to leave the country or be deported, but Iranian sheik Mansour Leghaei has no intention of packing his bags – The Australian

Health and hospitals

John Brumby digs in over hospitals control – Backslapping and jokes yesterday masked deep divisions between the Victorian Government and Kevin Rudd over his bid to take over the hospital system.  Despite a jovial atmosphere for the cameras, lengthy talks between the Prime Minister and Premier John Brumby were unable to break the deadlock – Melbourne Herald Sun

Waiting room the place for this health plan – The Rudd and Brumby governments remain at loggerheads over the Commonwealth's controversial plans to overhaul Australia's health system. Despite talks with the Prime Minister, where Victoria presented the federal government with a list of concerns about the health plan, Premier John Brumby said the parties remained ''a way apart'' – Melbourne Age

Puppetry of the pollies as leaders sock it out – The antics as a PM meets a Premier – the Melbourne Age

Budget declares war on drug cost – Commonly used blood pressure, cholesterol-lowering and reflux drugs could become cheaper to patients as the Rudd Government prepares to cut as much as $2 billion off what it is prepared to pay pharmaceutical companies in its subsidy scheme – Sydney Daily Telegraph

New children's hospital for Melbourne's southeast – A new children's hospital will be built in Melbourne's southeast to ease the pressure on paediatric services.  Plans for the $220 million, 200-bed Monash Children's, to be the nation's third largest paediatric hospital, are being finalised by Southern Health – Melbourne Herald Sun

Disabilities

Disabled 'apartheid' to end – Shops, hotels and offices will soon be forced to widen corridors, install ramps and renovate toilets under new rules to improve access for the elderly, families with prams and people with disabilities. The federal government will announce minimum access requirements today for public buildings built or renovated from May 1 next year – Sydney Morning Herald

Lobbyists

Lobbies hijack climate, obesity debates – Rich and powerful lobby groups are stopping crucial action on obesity and climate change, doctors say. In an open letter to governments, 300 health practitioners say "well financed, doubt-fostering, vested interests are blocking change that is desperately needed". They draw a parallel between climate change sceptics and the fast-food lobby, saying both are opponents of science and work to undermine attempts to make change in the public interest – Adelaide Advertiser

Industrial relations

Women paid less than men in Australia – New research contains bad news for women - it doesn't matter how good your qualifications, employers think they can pay you less simply because you're female. The study, by the National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling, found the dominant reason for the pay gap was that employers discriminated against women for "simply being female" – Melbourne Herald Sun

Insulation

Safety costs hit bungled scheme – Fewer homes will have insulation installed under the government's suspended rebate in order to pay for safety measures to shore up the scheme, Treasurer Wayne Swan says – Melbourne Age

Insulation installers making second profit by selling client names – Names and contact details of home owners who installed roof insulation under the failed $2.45 billion stimulus program are being bought and sold for up to $100 each by entrepreneurs who profited from the Rudd government scheme and are now cashing in on the clean-up operation – The Australian

Development

$35m army camp subdivision – One of the state's largest housing developments starts today when work begins on the former army barracks at Brighton. Lots in the new estate go on sale today, with the value of the subdivision expected to be about $35 million – Hobart Mercury

Economic matters

Government digs itself into tax hole - The signs are that the Government has yet to decide how to tackle a report that inevitably raises a host of politically difficult issues – Melbourne Age

Release date for Henry blueprint – The Treasurer, Wayne Swan, has promised to release Ken Henry's long-awaited review of the tax system by the budget in May – Sydney Morning Herald

Beijing warns of tough timesChina’s Premier, Wen Jiabao, has warned that the world risks sliding back into recession and says his country faces a difficult year trying to maintain economic growth and spur development – The Australian

Swan holds out hope for end to basic tax returns – Wayne Swan is pressing ahead with plans to streamline tax returns for thousands of PAYE workers as the centrepiece of his response to the Henry review, and is developing an "opt out" system for basic returns – The Australian

Foreign affairs

Obama delays Australia trip as health reforms face vote - US President Barack Obama has ditched plans for a family trip to Australia as he seeks to clinch a historic revamp of America's healthcare system – Melbourne Age

Aboriginal affairs

Tony Abbott reopens culture wars over nods to Aborigines – Tony Abbott has opened up a new front in the culture wars by declaring that Kevin Rudd and other Labor ministers demonstrate a misplaced sense of political correctness when acknowledging the traditional owners of land at official functions – The Australian

Opinions

Tony Abbott exercises his right for public profile – Tony Abbott is probably the fittest person in Parliament and he plans to keep riding and running and swimming through his punishing regime all the way to the election – Sydney Daily Telegraph

Why Gen Y could seal Rudd and Abbott’s fate – Kevin Rudd was made prime minister on the votes of young people and he will need them again in the coming showdown with Tony Abbott. But the contest has changed. In 2007 he was Labor’s contender against a tired and creaky John Howard, in government for more than a decade. In this year’s election, he will be engaging a supercharged Abbott Opposition which has done much to diminish Rudd’s reputation for competence and control – Malcolm Farr in the Sydney Daily Telegraph

Kevin Rudd, Anna Bligh's political posturing finally send me over the edge – Mike O’Connor in the Brisbane Courier Mail writes that the Prime Minister must strike "peeved" from his suite of television faces. Let him use "angry" if he must. Or "disappointed" but never "peeved". Or, for for matter, "cross", "querulous" or "vexatious". It was a thought that occurred to me as, overcome by a sudden attack of peevishness, I picked up a large cushion lying on the lounge and hurled it at the image of the PM on the television screen.

Kevin Rudd's a nerd, but Queenslanders should embrace him anyway – says Dennis Atkins in the Brisbane Courier Mail.

Biffo over health may come out of the blue – Phillip Coorey writes in the Sydney Morning Herald that if Mike Rann falls this weekend, pencil in Redmond as the one most likely to help Abbott and run interference against Rudd's plan.

Batten down the hatches, the waters are still treacherous - While the signals from the property market are mixed, it appears we are springing back to normalcy without absorbing the reality: the global financial crisis is far from over. All the elements are in place for a second crash – Paul Sheehan in the Sydney Morning Herald

PM should beware the Laurie driven by Gillard – Glenn Milne writes in The Australian that the reason for all the premature talk of Rudd, Gillard and key battlegrounds has been prompted by Rudd's recent poor performance. It's remarkable, of course, to be talking about a party replacing the hero of '07 two years into his first term.

BUSINESS

Chinese don't blame it on Rio – An internal Chinese government post-mortem into the collapse of the $US19.5 billion Chinalco-Rio Tinto investment deal has exonerated both the Australian government and the Anglo-Australian miner. Instead, it accepts the prevailing view in Australia that ordinary economic forces killed what would have been China's biggest foreign investment deal – Sydney Morning Herald

Mining veteran Geoff Wedlock pursues manganese dream – Mining Wedlock knows better than most how to succeed in the iron ore sector, and Pallinghurst chairman Brian Gilbertson is counting on his 40-year history in the industry to drive ambitious expansion plans – The Australian

ENVIRONMENT

Brumby cull to kill thousands in Carnarvon National Park – Thousands of brumbies will be killed as humanely as possible in western Queensland by a new government squad trained to shoot the horses in the heart and head – Brisbane Courier Mail

Bureau of Meteorology, CSIRO weigh into climate change debate to counter sceptics such as Lord Christopher Monckton – Some of Australia's leading scientists have hit back at climate-change sceptics, abandoning their apolitical stance to confirm humans are warming the planet – Melbourne Herald Sun

Climate snapshot reveals things are heating up – The nation's two leading scientific agencies will release a report today showing Australia has warmed up significantly over the past 50 years. It is a response to recent attacks on the science underpinning climate change – Sydney Morning Herald

Green group buys water for wetlands – A big environmental group will buy water on the open market to direct flows to wetlands in the Murray-Darling Basin that have dried up because of poor irrigation. The Australian Conservation Foundation said it had reached an agreement with the Victorian government's Department of Sustainability and Environment to direct 200 megalitres of water into the Hattah Lakes wetlands in northern Victoria – Sydney Morning Herald

MEDIA

Net plan triggers 'digital divide' at Seven – Divisions have emerged in the Seven Media group as the dominant television arm resisted plans by its internet division Yahoo7 to make more TV shows available on new digital channels – The Australian

LIFE

Cost of living

Families in fear as energy costs soar - NSW Energy and Water Ombudsman Clare Petre yesterday said calls from people who feared they would have electricity disconnected were up a third this financial year. Last financial year more than 18,000 NSW households had their power cut off – Sydney Morning Herald

The drink

Drink laws force closure of NSW pubs - A report commissioned by the Australian Hotels Association claimed that the Newcastle entertainment industry had been "decimated" since the booze blitz started two years ago. The AHA has released the findings by accounting firm Crosbie Warren Sinclair to warn of what the association said were the implications for the NSW economy if the tactics were to be enforced across the state – Sydney Daily Telegraph

Experts reject plan for 0.02 blood alcohol limit on Queensland roads – Alcohol and accident experts have labelled as "nonsense" the State Government's proposal to cut the alcohol limit to 0.02, arguing it would make little difference to reducing the number of accidents – Brisbane Courier Mail

Glass violence prompts plastic call – Two vicious glassing attacks at Melbourne bars have reignited calls for late-night pubs and clubs to replace glass with plastic. The push for a widespread ban comes after two men were treated for facial lacerations in hospital following an incident at a bar early yesterday – Melbourne Herald Sun

The drugs

Drug tests for NT drivers – Roadside drug tests for motorists are likely to be introduced in the Territory later this year. Police commissioner John McRoberts is drawing up a policy on how the testing would operate. He will present it to Chief Minister Paul Henderson later this month – Northern Territory News

Law and order

Classrooms being turned into mini-jails – Schools are turning into mini-jails in which teachers must act as wardens, as violence increasingly leads to lockdowns and court orders.  Such lockdowns have almost tripled since 2006. One school locks down its students to protect them an average of once a fortnight, Education Department figures released under Freedom of Information reveal – Sydney Daily Telegraph

Mafia deeply entrenched in Australia – Days after police smashed a multimillion-dollar drug ring with alleged mafia links in Sydney and Mildura, a new report by Italy's top anti-mafia investigators has named several Calabrian mafia clans that have created "permanent links" with key family members in Australia – Sydney Morning Herald

Virus

Nasty virus taking Sydney people down – Sydneysiders are being hit by a virus that is not only taking down people but also hospital staff. It is an unseasonal virus, not the swine flu, that is really nasty and the emergency department has been flooded by people coming in sick with it – Sydney Daily Telegraph

Transport

Free ride for motorists as Brisbane's Clem7 tunnel opens seven months early – Southeast Queensland's first major congestion buster will open tonight with the long-awaited $3 billion Clem7 tunnel expected to ease traffic bottlenecks on Brisbane's roads – Brisbane Courier Mail

Metro: stopping at most stations – Confidential ''black box'' data from a train that overshot Hallam railway station in January shows it took a kilometre to stop from the moment the driver applied the brakes. The train, travelling at 105km/h when the driver tried to slow down, should have halted in 537 metres using its ordinary brakes, according to the train's recognised capacity – Melbourne Age

Education

Parents reject super school viability – Parents want to halt construction of the state's six super schools until an independent review of their viability is conducted. Concerns have been raised by the state's peak parent body about whether "hub schools" with large populations across broader age groups will provide better a education for students – Adelaide Advertiser

CT Scans

Overuse of scans causes cancers – The unjustified use of potentially cancer-causing CT scans has alarmed the Medicare watchdog and prompted calls from senior radiologists for doctors to stop the indiscriminate ordering of scans – Sydney Morning Herald

Medicare gets tough on unnecessary CT scans – The Medicare watchdog has expressed "alarm" over the widespread and unnecessary ordering of high-radiation CT scans that can trigger cancer, after a near-trebling in the number of doctors and other health workers referred to the agency for investigation – The Australian

Religion

Dawkins derides sainthood as Pythonesque – The creation of saints is "pure Monty Python" and the Family First senator Steve Fielding is more stupid than an earthworm, says the evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins – Sydney Morning Herald
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