Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Media wrap - Abbott looks erratic, Turnbull acts statesmanlike


POLITICS AND ECONOMICS

Elections

MPs fear backlash on social housing projects – Prominent Labor MPs and candidates have called for the ALP to slow down its multibillion-dollar social housing agenda, amid concerns that the ''railroading'' of projects is alienating voters and producing inferior housing developments – Melbourne Age

Liberals propose new family intervention court – Parents would be forced to undertake community-run courses and counselling in order to keep children in their care under a new family intervention court proposed by the Liberals. Liberal leader Isobel Redmond says her government would overhaul the state's failing child protection system should it win the March 20 election – Adelaide Advertiser

Country ready for election dust-up – Water security, infrastructure, planning laws, red tape, country roads and the removal of high taxes on agriculture are among key issues for leading rural interest groups. The potential for policy change to reinvigorate industries and dramatically boost the sector's economic performance have been outlined in election-policy documents – Adelaide Advertiser

Rann reveals $44m spend on Modbury HospitalModbury Hospital will receive a $44 million upgrade including a new emergency department in a Labor pledge to be announced today – Adelaide Advertiser

Both leaders claiming underdog status – Mike Rann and Isobel Redmond are fighting for underdog status in the state election campaign – The Australian

Redmond takes time out to play proud mum - With Newspoll showing her Liberal Party now level-pegging with Mike Rann's Labor, Ms Redmond took time out yesterday to help admit son Noah as a lawyer – The Australian

Greens see more forest jobs – The Greens maintain their long-awaited forest policy would create more timber industry jobs. Under the policy, thousands of hectares of native forest would be protected and the Regional Forests Agreement would be torn up – Hobart Mercury

Leadership

Abbott makes same mistake Turnbull made - Tony Abbott's party room has given him a sharp reminder that next time he wants to crash through the plate glass, he should warn it. Barnaby oyce, holed up in his flooded home town of St George, cut through his colleagues' attempts to call a thorn a rose. ''It is most certainly a new tax,'' he declared, as spokeswoman Sharman Stone was saying (ludicrously): ''We don't call it tax, we're calling it an investment in human capital.'' – Melbourne Age

Stimulus projects

Jobless swamp hotline after insulation rebate ends – At least 1500 people have lost their jobs and are applying for government training programs because of the sudden suspension of the $2.45 billion insulation rebate. And in the first day of applications being open, 200 companies have contacted a government hotline seeking information about payments to help them retain staff until the insulation rebate restarts in June – Melbourne Age

Parental leave

Parental leave heat on leaders – The Rudd government is under pressure from minor parties to expand its parental leave scheme after a pre-election bidding war erupted on family policy. The pressure came as Opposition Leader Tony Abbott was forced to apologise to his backbench for failing to consult them on his bold plan to tax big business to pay mothers up to $75,000 to stay at home for six months after having a baby – Melbourne Age

A nappy change designed to wedge Labor and woo women – Tony Abbott told his colleagues the only way first-term oppositions grab voter attention is by presenting ''a moving target''. ''We won't win the next election by adopting a Barry O'Farrell-style small target strategy,'' he said – Sydney Morning Herald

PM bursts Abbott's thought-bubble – Kevin Rudd has ridiculed Tony Abbott's plan to tax business to fund a paid parental leave scheme as an unbelievable thought-bubble and a breach of a no-new-taxes promise made only a month ago. But the Opposition Leader has dismissed the attack as carping, insisting he has "unnerved and unsettled" the Prime Minister with his plan to tax big business to fund a $2.7 billion scheme providing six months' parental leave at full pay – The Australian

Parental levy hits top-five tax rank – The Coalition's plan for a $2.7 billion company tax surcharge to pay for parental leave would make Australia the fifth-highest taxing country for business in the OECD – The Australian

Leave it alone Abbott – Labor’s paid parental scheme - due to start in nine months - could be derailed in the Senate. The Coalition will try to change the Government's 18-week scheme that's set at the minimum wage of $543 a week to be more like its 26-week plan paid at a worker's existing weekly wage up to $2884 – Melbourne Herald Sun

It's federal election baby blues – At first glance, Tony Abbott is offering new mums world's best practice - six months of paid maternity leave, paid at the same level as their salary. It is more generous than the scheme the Federal Government plans to introduce in January, and taxpayers and small businesses won't have to pay. Great. Delve a little deeper and the plan unravels – Adelaide Advertiser

Coalition colleagues livid with Abbott over lack of consultation – The federal government will be pressed by the Senate to enhance its paid parental leave scheme after the Greens and independents said they would use Tony Abbott's rival plan to force a better deal for mothers – Sydney Morning Herald

Economic matters

Job ads rise signals slump over – Companies are stepping up the search for staff as new orders roll in and confidence about the economic outlook soars. A big increase in the number of job advertisements and improved business conditions in February signal that the economy is emerging from a lull in January – The Australian

Anger at beef import delay – The US and the European Union have reacted with concern and surprise to the Rudd government's decision to delay for at least two years the importation of beef from countries exposed to mad cow disease – The Australian

Development

Madden sparks fury in Coburg – Planning Minister Justin Madden's controversial ''call-in'' powers to expedite new development have been called flawed and lacking in transparency, with a local council lashing out over plans for a residential and commercial project in CoburgMelbourne Age

Prized Sydney wetlands under threat of bulldozers – Bulldozers are about to raze critically endangered bushland right up to the border of western Sydney's prized wetlands in a move that conservationists fear will harm sensitive animal and plant life – Sydney Daily Telegraph

Paul Keating takes apart Sydney's 'ice-cube tray' high-rise living – Sydney’s "gormless" apartment blocks with facades that look more like "ice cube trays" are depressing the city's residents and defacing the Harbour, former prime minister Paul Keating said yesterday – Sydney Daily Telegraph

Anna Bligh turns deaf ear to unions but gives big developers a win – Developers have boasted about scoring a "trifecta" of backdowns from the Bligh Government, sparking accusations that Anna Bligh's administration is pandering to the big end of town – Brisbane Courier Mail

Security

Warnings fail to stop Bali surge - While President Yudhoyono is in Australia, more than half a million Australians each year are now heading to Indonesia - despite government warnings telling us to ''reconsider'' – Melbourne Age

Multiculturalism

Migrants must obey new laws – New migrants from all ethnic backgrounds will have to "demonstrate a unified commitment to Australia" under new state laws. For the first time multiculturalism legislation will also talk about "shared values" after changes were approved at a State Cabinet meeting yesterday – Sydney Daily Telegraph

Industrial relations

Union pair on assault charges – Two senior building union officials are to face court next month after being charged with assault and other offences following an alleged incident at a Carlton building site last March. The charges have been strongly denied by the union but are the latest blow to the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union's campaign to have the building industry watchdog abolished – Melbourne Age

Unions employ ultimate in outsourcing – Unions are paying a private company to recruit thousands of members in workplaces, including schools, under a contentious scheme criticised by some leading officials as outsourcing core union business to the private sector – The Australian

Unions boost tactical use of strike orders – Unions are applying for legal protection to hold strikes at triple the rate they were a year ago, in a move Fair Work Australia admits may be tactical – The Australian

International education

'Residency factory' colleges may be closed – The man charged with reviewing Australia's international education industry estimates that 20 per cent of vocational colleges are ''permanent residency factories'' and says some may be forced out of business as the $17 billion sector is cleaned up. Former Liberal MP Bruce Baird yesterday handed down his report, which calls for changes to weed out shonky operators and provide greater protection for students – Melbourne Age

Foreign affairs

Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono cool on Kevin Rudd's Asia plan – President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has told Kevin Rudd that Indonesia is unlikely to support his push for a new Asia-Pacific community as Jakarta sees the existing ASEAN bloc as its priority. The Prime Minister discussed the community plan when he telephoned Dr Yudhoyono in Jakarta on Sunday night – The Australian

Defence

Defence spending questionedAustralia’s former army chief has said we should consider cutting funding from the defence budget - currently $27 billion - and redirecting it towards diplomacy and aid programs – Melbourne Age

War on waste: 'Defence extravagance must end' - Defence Minister, John Faulkner, has demanded action on millions of dollars Defence has spent on luxury items, saying ''financial control is critical''. – Sydney Morning Herald

Breast jobs, tummy tucks in the deal – Taxpayers are funding hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of cosmetic surgery and fertility treatments for Defence Force personnel – Sydney Morning Herald

General moves in the CEO Circle – Billed as the most exclusive of support groups, the CEO Circle is a safe place for executives to talk about their ''issues and failures''. And, at more than $1600 a meeting, the boardroom-style workshops are designed for only the most senior executives.But taxpayers are paying for two Defence staff, including Major-General Ian Flawith, to be members of the circle – Sydney Morning Herald

The navy lurk: blonde model gets sailors fighting fit - Jodie Low, the blonde model and fitness celebrity who once starred on Foxtel's Aerobics Oz Style, is on contract to keep Australia's fighting personnel trim and taut – Sydney Morning Herald

Questions the Department of Defence declined to answer – What the Sydney Morning Herald wanted to know but was not told.

'Hurt Locker' team forgotten - Australian soldiers who were part of the secret multinational taskforce in Iraq, whose work helped to inspire The Hurt Locker, have come out losers. Despite the unique and deadly nature of their work and the support of the recently retired ADF deputy chief of joint operations, Greg Evans, none of them have been decorated for bravery – Melbourne Age

Health and hospitals

NSW Premier Kristina Keneally links tax plan to health – The NSW government will refuse to sign up to the federal government's proposed health and hospitals package before it has had a chance to consider the Henry tax review – The Australian

Midwives want to meet Roxon to avoid home-birth ban – Midwives are calling for another urgent meeting with the Health Minister, Nicola Roxon, before new rules denying mothers the right to have midwives help them give birth at home come into effect in July – Sydney Morning Herald

Boo, Kevin . . . call that a scare campaign? – Imre Salusinzky in The Australian writes how Kevin Rudd has described the response of the states to his health reform proposals as "the mother of all scare campaigns". Having observed the reactions of the Labor states to a range of initiatives by the former Howard government, I think I would prefer to describe it as: "The brother-in-law-nobody-wants-to-speak-to-at-Christmas-lunch of all scare campaigns."

Opinions

At a loss over Abbott – Shaun Carney writes in the Melbourne Age that The policy makes sense only if it is viewed as one more fizzing explosive thrown on to the vaudeville stage, a distraction for the audience. It is a wish-list proposal, the sort of policy more suited to a minority party with no hope of gaining office than a big mainstream party with a serious chance of taking power.

Baby leave is not a women's issue – Leslie Cannold in the Melbourne Age writes that while Tony Abbott's parental leave proposal is more generous than the government's safety net plan of 18 weeks at minimum pay, both schemes are fatally flawed

A core Liberal philosophy betrayed – Peter Hartcher in the Sydney Morning Herald says the Liberal Party has spent 66 years developing its brand as the party of enterprise and low taxes. It took Tony Abbott just 98 days to inflict serious damage to the brand.

Rabbit out of the hat leaves everybody staring at goats – Damien Murphy in the Sydney Morning Herald writes that for those privileged to see it, Julie Bishop's overly long loathing look at an audience interruption on ABC TV's Q&A on Monday night was a woman-who-stares-at-goats moment illustrating the opposition's talent for diverting attention to itself for the wrong reasons. Tony Abbott was at it yesterday, too, over his paid parental scheme.

Populate or stagnate – says Paul Eslake in the Melbourne Age

Charmer Julia on a right path – Andrew Bolt in the Sydney Daily Telegraph finds it’s a love affair stranger than Romeo and Juliet. But conservatives have fallen in love with Julia Gillard, the lady from the Left. Even Alan Jones - yes, Jones! - last week declared his passion for our Deputy Prime Minister.

Is Abbott a Maoist or a Margaret? – asks Malcolm Farr in the Sydney Daily Telegraph as he notes that Tony Abbott’s policy oscillation between Mao Tse-tung and Margaret Thatcher is working - if his aim is to confuse the Government and his own MPs.

The government throws prudence - and billions - to the wind – Malcolm Turnbull writes of Kevin Rudd in the Sydney Morning Herald that far from being a cautious, process-obsessed bureaucrat, what we seem to have is a free-wheeling spin merchant, keen to get out with the big idea and the big announcement but completely uninterested in the follow-through.

Think small - and other capital ideas – Ross Gittins finds that the older I get the more I conclude that small is beautiful. I've discovered there's a big phrase to make that strengthening prejudice sound deeply intellectual. It's ''the organising principle of subsidiarity'' - that is, matters ought to be handled by the smallest, lowest or least centralised competent authority – Sydney Morning Herald

We must all pay for parental leave – writes Julia Perry in the Sydney Morning Herald. Tony Abbott's policy to provide six months' parental leave on full pay, funded by a levy on employers and the baby bonus, has thrown both the left and right of politics into confusion about how to respond.

Boom and the fear factor delivered payload of cash - Mark Thomson, an analyst at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, writes in the Sydney Morning Herald that between 2000 and 2009, its budget grew by 62 per cent above inflation to $25.7 billion. Defence was unable to spend all the money it was given. Last decade, more than $4.4 billion of funding for new and replacement equipment was deferred. Hundreds of millions earmarked for running costs were handed back because it could not be spent quickly enough.

BUSINESS

Consumer confidence up despite rates rise - Increased interest rates have failed to dent Australian enthusiasm for shopping, with consumer confidence lifting this month – The West Australian

ENVIRONMENT

Probe into water quality - Water quality will go under the microscope with a panel of scientists to investigate supplies in Tasmania's North-East. Environment Protection Authority chairman John Ramsay has convened the panel and will chair the board, which includes three interstate experts – Hobart Mercury

Carr push to save red gums – Former NSW premier Bob Carr will today launch a national protest against the NSW Labor government's proposal to allow logging of the giant river red gums, in southwest NSW, until 2015 – The Australian

MEDIA

WIN's push for digital handout – Regional network WIN Television is negotiating with the Federal Government to pay for the digitalisation of its South Australia and West Australian networks. WIN owner Bruce Gordon said there was "strong government support" to help the networks in its mandated move to reach regional audiences with multi-channel offerings – Adelaide Advertiser

LIFE

Universities

Academics call for separate music uni – Academics at Melbourne University's prestigious music school say the 115-year-old institution's future is at risk and have called for it to split from the Victorian College of the Arts and Music – Melbourne Age

Schools

Maths ability 'dangerously low' – The quality of students completing year 12 maths has deteriorated so much over the past 20 years that standards are now ''dangerously low'', according to research commissioned by Australia's leading universities – Melbourne Age

Numbers of math, science students fall to dangerous levels – The number of students studying maths and science is falling to dangerous levels, prompting warnings of a critical shortage in skilled workers, particularly in South AustraliaAdelaide Advertiser

Mathematics students in serious decline – The state of maths and science at Australian schools and universities has deteriorated to a "dangerous level", the nation's top mathematicians have warned – The Australian

Bullying

Girl tormented and abused by child bullies wins landmark compensation – A girl tormented and abused by child bullies has won a landmark bid for compensation. The Supreme Court has overturned a decision by the Victims of Crime Assistance Tribunal, which refused to compensate the girl because her attackers were under 10 - too young to face criminal charges – Melbourne Herald Sun

Real estate


Call to act on land supply fears - There are fears WA could run out of land within a year, with 40 per cent fewer blocks on the market now compared with the last pre-boom period – The West Australian

Fishing

Land-based anglers face new licence - Recreational fishers face paying a land-based fishing licence after Fisheries Minister Norman Moore refused to rule it out yesterday as an option to save fish stocks – The West Australian

Sterilisation

Parents back right to sterilise – The parents of some of Australia's most severely disabled children have rushed to the defence of a Queensland couple who went to court to get permission to sterilise their 11-year-old daughter – The Australian
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