Friday, 5 March 2010

Media wrap - the pink batts strike again


POLITICS AND ECONOMICS

Green schemes

Anger over case of the phantom insulation batts – Greg Combet has called in the Auditor-General to investigate the bungled $2.45 billion home insulation program – The Australian

Probe order over insulation 'cons' – A fast-tracked probe into the Rudd Government's home insulation program has been ordered amid fears of widespread rorting by conmen – Brisbane Courier Mail

Green loan scheme `hijacked' - $175 million green loans scheme was "hijacked" by opportunists, overseas call centres and companies that specialised in making homes environmentally friendly, leading to a raft of dubious assessments – The Australian

Insulation row hit by crime claims - The home insulation scandal has worsened with revelations criminal gangs have been targeting the $2.5 billion scheme to claim Federal subsidies for "phantom" ceiling installations – The West Australian

Taxation

Big-bang reform's long-term benefits don't add up as poll looms – For Tony Abbott, Ken Henry's secret tax reform report will provide the script for a scare campaign that would keep on giving. Rule out big-bang tax reform any time soon –The Australian

Health and hospitals

Access to care set by region: inquiry – The Rudd government's proposed hospital reform risks "balkanising" health services, with people's access to care determined by where they live, according to the government's own inquiry into hospitals – The Australian

Local networks to end border wars for patients – Tony Abbott gives an example of how Labor’s new hospitals scheme will not end the blame game – The Australian

Tax rises will fund health changes - The federal government has flagged tax increases to fund the growing gap between revenue and health costs as part of Kevin Rudd's plan to reform the public health system – Sydney Morning Herald

Private care for wait list patients - The State Government is promising a major shake-up of how it manages elective surgery waiting lists, including paying for public patients to be treated in private hospitals, in the wake of horror figures for January – The West Australian

Tax increases not ruled out to fund health reforms – Taxes could be increased to pay for Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's multibillion-dollar health reform takeover, sparking demands from the Opposition to release his tax review – Brisbane Courier Mail

Doctors prescribe a $350m rural rescue package - The federal government will have to spend about $350 million each year to entice doctors to the bush or rural hospitals will continue to be closed or downgraded, making any health reform pointless, the Rural Doctors Association of Australia says – Sydney Morning Herald

Referendum not the only hurdle facing federal government's plan - A referendum shifting power from the states to the Commonwealth has never succeeded without bipartisan support. Kevin Rudd's threatened plebiscite on health does not have such support, and if it comes to a vote, constitutional experts say it is doomed. One expert yesterday questioned whether the federal government wants true responsibility for health anyway – Sydney Morning Herald

Boards and pricing pose challenges to hospital reforms - Dr Stephen Duckett, a member of the National Health and Hospitals Reform Commission, welcomed the response to the commission's report. But he was cautious about national price-setting for hospital services and local hospital network boards – Sydney Morning Herald

Top bureaucrat casts doubt on hospital overhaul - One of Australia's most distinguished health bureaucrats has cast doubt on the ability of Kevin Rudd to deliver his hospitals plan, saying it would be ''extraordinarily difficult'' to implement key proposals – Melbourne Age

Smaller providers fear 'forced marriages' - Primary healthcare providers are mostly optimistic about a federal takeover of funding but some fear they will be swallowed up by bigger centres – Sydney Morning Herald

Keneally calls on other states to support reform - The Premier, Kristina Keneally, said NSW cannot afford to reject Kevin Rudd's health changes because without a new funding model, health costs would soak up most of the state budget within two decades – Sydney Morning Herald

Abbott is better off following the beaten track - Caught short by Mr Rudd's health announcement on Wednesday, Mr Abbott yesterday hastily arranged a visit to Alice Springs Hospital to meet an Aboriginal woman, Nora Ward, who is a victim of the "blame game" that bedevils the hospital system – Sydney Morning Herald

Elections

Richard Wayne Phillips pleads guilty to assaulting Premier Mike Rann – Burnside businessman Rick Phillips may have been sentenced for assaulting the Premier, Mike Rann, but the Chantelois saga continues to haunt the Premier as he enters the critical final two weeks of the state election campaign – Adelaide Advertiser

The sorry factor - For the first time in a long time, Labor believes it can lose November's state election - and the opposition now believes it can win. A remarkable turnaround considering it was only four months ago that one Liberal MP said Ted Baillieu was leading the Liberals ''to the slaughter'' – Melbourne Age

ALP man Adam Searle's safe seat deal – Would-be federal ALP candidate Adam Searle has been guaranteed a state seat as Labor powerbrokers move to prevent a repeat of the bitter pre-selection war being played out with Belinda Neal – Sydney Daily Telegraph

John Howard to teach LNP MPs how to win – John Howard will tutor Liberal National state MPs about how to win office – and stay there – in his first major foray into Queensland politics since losing the 2007 election – Brisbane Courier Mail

Poll shows Trish Draper failing to swing votes in Newland – Liberal moves to win the key marginal seat of Newland with a recycled candidate and former Federal MP Trish Draper appear to have failed. A new poll shows former Ms Draper is not attracting enough of a swing to unseat Labor MP Tom Kenyon – Adelaide Advertiser

Rail vision for Mt Wellington – A Labor candidate is proposing a rail link to the summit of Mt Wellington from the Springs – Hobart Mercury

Political life

Cabinet splits over tax, tactics – Kevin Rudd faces damaging cabinet splits over tax policy, election strategies and political tactics as his response to poor polling erodes the hallmark solidarity of Labor's first two years in government – The Australian

Political lurks and perks

Taxpayers pay $37 million just to pay administration costs associated with MPs' perks and entitlements - The astonishing figure has been revealed by the Department of Finance as part of an inquiry looking to overhaul the system, which could recommend paying MPs a bigger base salary and axing all the hidden and costly payments and allowances – Melbourne Herald Sun

Foreign affairs

President 'should delay trip' - Barack Obama's trip to Australia this month is in jeopardy as the US President pushes to clinch historic healthcare reform in America, one of his key election pledges – Sydney Morning Herald

Economic matters

Secret Territory plan 'to tax income' - A copy of the NT Government submission to the national Henry tax review, obtained by the Northern Territory News, shows the Territory wants access to the same tax base as the Commonwealth. The submission, which has been kept secret, says this includes income taxes – Northern Territory News

Immigration

PM faces boat people backlash – Kevin Rudd faces a public backlash over the surge in boat people with voters believing Labor has broken an election promise to maintain tough border protection policies. Coalition polling shows up to 85 per cent of voters believe the Prime Minister has squibbed on a commitment to turn back the boats – Melbourne Herald Sun

Industrial relations

ACTU uneasy over revamp of awards system - ACTU secretary Jeff Lawrence has expressed concern that the Rudd government's award revamp could leave workers worse off, after union leaders vented their frustration that Labor's policy could disadvantage their members – The Australian

Staff burnt as union training centre fails – A training centre set up by the nation's two education unions has collapsed, with workers owed hundreds of thousands of dollars in entitlements and unpaid superannuation – The Australian

Development

More reasons why NSW is failing – Boeing, Boeing, gone. The Keneally Government's reluctance to invest in vital industry has been blamed for the loss of another 350 specialist jobs - this time to Victoria – Sydney Daily Telegraph

Life not so great in the fast lane ... but now Labor wants to fix our cities, too - The federal Infrastructure Minister, Anthony Albanese, will today outline the Rudd Government's push to cut across state and local authorities, as he releases a snapshot into the state of Australian cities that will form the basis of a national cities policy – Sydney Morning Herald

Sitting in traffic to cost city $6bn by 2020 - The cost of bumper-to-bumper traffic in Melbourne is set to double by 2020, with gridlock sapping $20.4 billion from the national economy by then if action isn't taken – Melbourne Age

Security

AFP team under fire in bingle - The Australian Federal Police team investigating the misuse of Australian passports in a Dubai assassination were last night in the sights of Israeli police themselves, after their vehicle was involved in an apparent hit-and-run accident in Tel Aviv – Melbourne Age

Law and order

New laws mean big knife fines - Anyone aged over 16 found carrying a knife will be hit with a $1000 on-the-spot fine under a crackdown on knife-related violence announced by Premier John Brumby – Melbourne Age

Aboriginal affairs

Abbott hits Outback wall politics won't fix – Paul Toohey in the Sydney Daily Telegraph writes how Tony Abbott confronted the enormity of the Aboriginal problem.

Opinions

As the alternative Prime Minister, Abbott needs to stay on his toes – Tony Abbott is in trouble and under pressure writes Dennis Shanahan in The Australian

Sorry, but some have to suffer for their art – Barry Cohen in The Australian writes that in an occupation where there is no shortage of egos it's easy to declare oneself to be an artist and expect the world, or the government, to provide you with a living. It's nonsense and the sooner the arts community stops whining about how their talents are not being rewarded the better.

Health FAQs for the confused – Henry Ergas writes in The Australian that the government needs to explain how its medical reforms are going to work.

An alliance with fresh legs for new times – Peter Hartcher in the Sydney Morning Herald says Kevin Rudd and Barack Obama are sustaining the political intensity of the relationship between John Howard and George Bush, but they are also continuing an unusually close personal engagement.

Federalism turns on financial carrots and Canberra's big stick – Michelle Grattan in the Melbourne Age says there are are a couple of iron laws of Australian federalism. First, whatever the rhetoric from either side of politics, power is moving inexorably towards Canberra. Second, whatever prospects are held out for ''co-operative'' approaches, there will always be stoushes between Canberra and the states.

Perfect spin is so elusive – Andrew Bolt in the Melbourne Herald Sun writes of the pea-and-thimble shysters you now elect in these spin-spin days

BUSINESS

Boeing move a blow to Sydney aviation workers – Unions have warned that the future of the aerospace industry in NSW might be in jeopardy after the aviation giant Boeing announced plans to mothball its manufacturing plant in Sydney's west and shift the operation to Victoria – The Australian

China's Bright Food Group revives CSR tiltChina’s state-owned Bright Food Group is making a fresh play for CSR's sugar business, yesterday signalling plans to sweeten its $1.5 billion opening gambit in a bid to win over the target's board – The Australian

Steel giant ArcelorMittal tips 80pc iron hike – Asian steel mills are set to be hit with a significant jump in iron ore contract prices this year, with the world's largest steelmaker tipping an 80 per cent increase in the controversial contracts – The Australian

Western Australia resists Rudd gas plan – West Australian Mines and Petroleum Minister Norman Moore has warned the oil and gas industry it will face higher costs and an extra layer of bureaucracy if the federal government takes control of the state's approval process – The Australian

ENVIRONMENT

Local fears as US backs bluefin tuna trade ban - Australia's lucrative but imperilled southern bluefin tuna fishery has come under scrutiny with moves towards a ban on trade in its northern hemisphere cousin – Sydney Morning Herald

MEDIA

BBC boss counters Scott – Just hours after ABC chief Mark Scott defended his plans for the expansion of the taxpayer-funded broadcaster and said calls for the ABC to pull back was simply an agenda from commercial media companies with broken business models, his British counterpart disagreed – The Australian

LIFE

Education

Star spangled screw-up in Cape York schools – Aboriginal students are singing the US national anthem and learning from worksheets with imperial measurements and American spelling as part of a $7.72 million taxpayer-funded program – Cairns Post

Real estate

$25m house price: a record - Melbourne's record house price has been broken again, with soft-drink magnate turned property developer Harry Stamoulis paying what is believed to be almost $25 million for a former Baillieu family estate – Melbourne Age

Bullying

Kevin Rudd says it is 'the right thing' for parents of bullied child to contact parent of bully - Mr Rudd said contact should be by telephone and in a calm and respectful way. He urged parents to first seek to talk to their child's teacher or the school principal – Melbourne Herald Sun

Religion

Growing number of Muslim men and multiple wives exploiting loophoole for taxpayer handouts - Centrelink has confirmed it has investigated up to 20 cases of multiple relationships, including polygamy, in the past two years for payment irregularities – Melbourne Herald Sun

Adoption

State to apologise for 'harsh' adoption acts - WA is poised to be the first State to publicly acknowledge the aggressive adoption practices which resulted in thousands of mothers being unlawfully separated from their babies after giving birth out of wedlock – The West Australian
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