POLITICS AND ECONOMICS
Health and hospitals
Health plan on verge of collapse - Kevin Rudd's health reforms are teetering on collapse with WA Health Minister Kim Hames accusing the Prime Minister of stinginess and Victorian Premier John Brumby angrily digging in his heels - The West Australian
Blowtorch on Brumby as Rudd signals more health cash - The Rudd government has signalled it will further sweeten its hospitals reform plan next week, putting huge pressure on a defiant Victorian Premier John Brumby to sign on - Melbourne Age
Hospitals hit by growing debt crisis - Public hospitals are failing to pay suppliers of essential medicines and diagnostic tests, despite measures imposed by the government a year ago after a series of debt scandals - Sydney Morning Herald
John Brumby dares PM Kevin Rudd on health - Victorian Premier John Brumby has called Kevin Rudd's bluff on a referendum on hospitals reform, saying the Australian public would not support building a "great big bureaucratic monolith" in Canberra to run public hospitals - The Australian
Leave Rudd in his ditch, says Brumby - The Victorian Premier, John Brumby, has told his counterparts that Kevin Rudd has dug himself a ditch, that he should be left in it, and the state and territory leaders should not leap in after him - Sydney Morning Herald
This sickness could be catching - Lenore Taylor in the Sydney Morning Herald explains how the federal government is talking tough, insisting it would hold a referendum to force reform, and that it is confident it would win. But it has not said exactly what it would do then. Implement its ''co-operative federalism'' model with the states from which it had just wrenched more power? Take more funding control itself?
State patients will get immediate relief under $45 million surgery plan - Victorian patients will get immediate relief under Premier John Brumby's $45 million hospital cash splash on elective surgery. In a direct challenge to the Prime Minister, Mr Brumby attacked the Commonwealth for resorting to the divisive politics of the Joh Bjelke-Petersen era with Mr Rudd holding the states to ransom.
Top Labor adviser slams PM's hospital blueprint - Kevin Rudd's health plans are ''spin'' and ''hype'' and there is nothing in them that would improve hospital care or access, the Medicare architect, John Deeble, says.
Dr Deeble, once venerated in Labor circles, says the claims the states would collect an extra $15 billion are ''equally fictitious'' - Sydney Morning Herald
Coughing up more for cigarettes - Smokers may pay an extra $6.50 for a packet of 30 cigarettes to help foot the bill for Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's $18 billion health reforms. The Government's National Preventative Health Taskforce has called for the tax rise in next month's Budget and the soon-to-be-released Henry tax review also examines the option.
BER management fees twice normal level - Project management fees charged by large construction companies are usually 2 per cent, half the maximum amount set by the Rudd government under the Building the Education Revolution program, according to a managing contractor who is handling $414 million of school stimulus projects - The Australian
Mr fix-it set for building schools task - The business leader appointed to investigate complaints about Labor's school building program has rejected criticisms that he will lack the independence and the powers to effectively scrutinise the $16 billion scheme - Sydney Morning Herald
State Labor MP Ian West in court on assault charge - A NSW Labor MP was abusive during a community meeting in Sydney's west before allegedly hitting a man on the head and telling him to "watch your arse", according to witness reports in court papers - Sydney Daily Telegraph
Madden accepted first-class upgrades during recent trip to the US - Globetrotting planning minister Justin Madden accepted a free flight upgrade to first class during a recent jaunt across the US - Melbourne Herald Sun
Greens await ministry call - Tasmania is poised to have a Labor minority government that includes Greens ministers within Cabinet for the first time - Hobart Mercury
Rotten ruling a threat to apple industry - The Adelaide Hills apple industry is facing similar devastation to the Riverland's horticultural downturn, because of a World Trade Organisation decision to allow New Zealand apples into Australia for the first time in nearly a century - Adelaide Advertiser
Red alert over influx of Chinese apples - Chinese apples may be in Australian supermarkets by the end of this year, prompting fears they may create a price war. But of even greater concern is that imported apples could carry pests and diseases not previously found here - Sydney Morning Herald
Public servants warned of freeze on numbers - The Territory's cap on public servant numbers is expected to last at least two years - Northern Territory News
Stance on boat people will backfire, say Greens - The federal government's latest position on asylum seekers might be aimed at the politics of marginal electorates but it could harm its highest-profile marginal seat holder.
Lindsay Tanner's seat of Melbourne represents the Greens' best chance of winning a House of Representatives seat in the federal election - Sydney Morning Herald
Legal and diplomatic headache for Rudd - Kevin Rudd's suspension of refugee processing is legally contentious and flies in the face of his ambition to have Australia taken seriously on the international stage, a law professor and a former diplomat say - Sydney Morning Herald
Jakarta frets over future of tentative agreement - Indonesia is ''very worried'' that the Rudd government's freeze on processing some refugee claims will scuttle a tentative agreement to end the six-month standoff with Sri Lankan asylum seekers at the Indonesian port city of Merak, a senior official said yesterday - Melbourne Age
Brumby dare Rudd's biggest challenge - Paul Kelly writes in The Australian that Kevin Rudd now faces in John Brumby the most intense challenge to his political authority and policy credentials from within the Labor Party since he became Prime Minister. This challenge penetrates to the heart of Rudd's re-election strategy.
Woeful Rudd an inept PM - Andrew Bolt in the Melbourne Herald Sun says that one disillusioned day you will hear from many who now work with him how Rudd seems is bizarrely different to how he is. I don't just mean that this publicly prissy churchgoer is privately a foul-mouthed, arrogant, paranoid and abusive control freak, but that many of his brightest ideas swiftly flop.
Exit Turnbull from a political stage littered with underachievers - Peter Costello in the Sydney Morning Herald writes that Malcolm Turnbull made the right call when he decided to retire. All through the election campaign he would have been pestered about Labor's emissions trading scheme.
Health benefit lost in smoke and mirrors - There are some positives in Rudd's plan, but not what the spin promises, writes John Deeble in the Sydney Morning Herald
Arrogant executive should be brought to heel in Windsor case - Greg Taylor writes in the Melbourne Age
that refusal to co-operate ranks as a dangerous defiance by government.
No-frills superannuation forced on funds - Every major Australian superannuation fund will be forced to offer individuals a low-cost, no-frills fund called MySuper under a radical overhaul of the $1.2 trillion industry - The Australian
Carrier's oil spill washes up on Great Barrier Reef island - Sydney Morning Herald
Three kilometres of Great Barrier Reef damage, 20 years to mend - Melbourne Age
Greens tax idea wins supporters - Key supporters of the government's climate-change policies are backing an alternative proposal for a two-year carbon tax to break a deadlock on the emissions trading scheme - Sydney Morning Herald
Power price surge fuelled by stalemate over policy - Power bills are set to treble by 2020 under government policies, yet Australia will still fail to meet the government's most cautious emissions targets, one of the country's biggest generators has warned - Sydney Morning Herald
Camera operator sacked for terror gibe - A Channel Nine cameraman who called the father of an Oakleigh riot suspect a ''f---ing terrorist'' has been sacked - Melbourne Age
NT loophole lets teachers smack kids - The Territory Government is refusing to close a loophole that allows teachers to smack their students - Northern Territory News
Hobart's 50km/h speed call - The move to reduce all speed limits within Hobart to 50km/h, including on major arterial roads, is designed to make travel for pedestrians, motorcyclists and cyclists safer - Hobart Mercury
Riders to meet Transport Minister Conlon to demand safety rethink- Cycling groups will meet Transport Minister Patrick Conlon tomorrow to lobby for a safer environment for cyclists - Adelaide Advertiser
Road chaos warning as cars on rise - The number of motor vehicles on WA roads is poised to hit two million - with new figures revealing more than 460,000 vehicles have been added to the roads in the past seven years - The West Australian
Campbell caught in traffic-snarl-up- The state's embattled Transport Minister is resisting calls to resign as more details of the F3 debacle, which crippled the city's main northern artery on Monday and left motorists stranded for up to 12 hours, emerged - Sydney Morning Herald
Mad cow disease
Mad cow disease death scare after woman dies -Health officials are testing a dead woman's body for the illness that sparked a global scare in the 1990s. However, experts believe it is more likely that she died from a degenerative form of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) because she had not travelled overseas in several years - Sydney Daily Telegraph
Pushing the envelope - stamp rise plea - Five months after its first request was marked ''return to sender'', Australia Post has again asked the competition watchdog for the right to increase the price of a standard letter by 5¢ to 60¢ - Sydney Morning Herald
Rental reprieve: Sydney prices on pause despite interest rises - Sydney tenants have been spared the predicted steep rises in rents in the first quarter of this year, with rents in many parts of the city remaining the same - Sydney Morning Herald