Sunday, 28 February 2010

Media wrap - A funny little poll



Coalition draws level with Labor as Abbott bites – The Rudd Government's bungled home insulation program is costing it crucial support among NSW voters, who are turning to Opposition Leader Tony Abbott. An exclusive Sun-Herald/Taverner poll shows Labor is now level-pegging with the Coalition – Sydney Sun Herald

Rudd not insulated from a series of unfortunate events – The sheen is coming off Kevin Rudd. After an appalling few weeks due to the bungled home insulation program, voters are rethinking their opinion of a leader who has had nothing but sky-high popularity for much of his three years as Labor leader – Sydney Sun Herald

Women like Gillard for PM: poll – More than one in three voters believe Julia Gillard would make a better prime minister than Kevin Rudd. A Taverner poll taken late last week also reveals slipping support for Labor overall, with both sides now running neck and neck on a two-party-preferred basis – Melbourne Sunday Age


Labor's sweet face kicks off campaign - NSW Premier Kristina Keneally will begin the fight of her political life with a personal plea to voters to give her a chance in an unprecedentedly early election campaign – Sydney Sunday Telegraph

Morialta marginal seat a problem for Rann and Labor – Labor is in deep trouble in the marginal suburban Hills seat of Morialta, according to a Sunday Mail poll showing a dramatic 10 per cent swing to the Liberal Party on a two-party preferred basis – Adelaide Sunday Mail

$8m pledge to fix bullying – The State Government has pledged $8 million to tackle bullying in Tasmanian schools. Premier David Bartlett said $4 million over four years would go directly to schools so they could combat face-to-face, cyber and mobile-phone bullying. Another $4 million would boost the number of school psychologists by 20 per cent, from 60 to 72, in the wake of staff losses – Hobart Mercury


Combet will use union smarts to smooth over batts blunders – The new Minister for Energy Efficiency, Greg Combet, will use his experience fighting for asbestos victims to ease community concerns about the federal government's rooftop insulation scheme – Sydney Sun Herald

Peter Garrett barefoot and dejected – A barefoot and dejected Peter Garrett yesterday insisted he would stay on in politics, despite being demoted for his role in the $2.5 billion home insulation fiasco – Sydney Sunday Telegraph

Political life

Anna Bligh handballs May Day fury to Paul Lucas – Premier Anna Bligh will conveniently be out of the country when angry unions march on Labour Day in May. She will lead a state trade mission to Chile, Brazil, Colombia, Peru, Canada and the US from April 22 to May 7, breaking the tradition of the ALP leader heading Brisbane's Labour Day march – Brisbane Sunday Mail

Labor MP Rita Saffioti wants her baby in Parliament – A Labor politician has been told her seven-week-old baby would be deemed a stranger and possibly removed from parliament if she attempts to nurse the baby in the Legislative Assembly - as she would like to do – Perth Sunday Times

Political lurks and perks

Economy class Nattrass hits out at first-class Lisa Scaffidi – Jet-setting Perth Lord Mayor Lisa Scaffidi clashed with her predecessor Peter Nattrass as it was revealed she spent nearly $30,000 more than him on international travel in almost half the time – Perth Sunday Times

Economic matters

Billions squandered: Abbott – Cost blow-outs and safety risks have raised the alarm for parents and principals as cracks appear in the Rudd Government's multibillion-dollar schools stimulus program – Sydney Sun Herald


MPs fought Windsor plan – A group of Brumby government MPs wrote a passionate joint submission against the $260 million Hotel Windsor redevelopment and raised concerns with embattled Planning Minister Justin Madden, deepening political controversy over the project – Melbourne Sunday Age

SA's most controversial building – Plans for a building likely to be South Australia's most controversial and an $18 million overpass for McLaren Vale were unveiled today as Prime Minister Kevin Rudd joined Premier Mike Rann on the election trail – Adelaide Sunday Mail


Terrorists could 'steal' Aussie planes – Aircraft and iconic public places are wide open to terror attacks, security experts and former airline staff claim – Sydney Sunday Telegraph


Defence's new choppers are duds: report – An internal German army report has revealed serious deficiencies in the European-designed helicopter that will replace Australia's military helicopter fleet in a $4.2 billion deal – Melbourne Sunday Age

Law and order

Key promises from 1999 anti-knife plan unfulfilled – The sincerity of John Brumby's latest war on knife crime has been called into question after a Sunday Herald Sun investigation found the Premier had failed to deliver on promises he made more than 10 years ago to tackle the problem – Melbourne Sunday Herald Sun


It was only so long that PM could stand by his man – The notion of "ministerial responsibility" has got a big workout in talk about the insulation disaster. The reality is that for all the highfalutin theory, what happens to a minister who stuffs up is all about the politics – Sydney Sun Herald

Rudd buries nuclear waste at bottom of bin – Stephanie Peatling in the Sydney Sun Herald gives a West Wing interpretation to government attempts at spin doctoring away the bad news this week

Prime piece to complete the giant Sydney jigsaw – Former prime minister Paul Keating in the Sydney Sun Herald shares his preferred vision for what has become Sydney Harbour's most contentious site

Rudd hasn't mastered Beattie's art – Paul Daley in the Sydney Sun Herald writes that for former Queensland Premier Peter Beattie the political mea culpa became an exquisite art form. It is an art form that Kevin Rudd has flirted with occasionally and tried to emulate as Labor leader. But last week he almost channelled Beattie in a way that might have made the former Queensland premier proud ... if only Rudd had got the timing right.

Congestion the ultimate cost of people ingestion – Josh Gordon in the Melbourne Sunday Age writes how despite changing rhetoric, the reality is our leaders remain hopelessly addicted to population growth. It is a drug they are unlikely to kick any time soon. Size, for some misguided reason, has long been equated with importance. But there is another, more intrinsic reason for the addiction. Population growth is one of the simplest ways for a government to boost economic growth, which is in turn regarded as a key measure of political success.

Hitting the wrong target - Sarah Honig, a columnist and senior editorial writer for The Jerusalem Post, writes in the Melbourne Sunday Age that the false-passport row denies Israel's right to act against those trying to destroy it. Accustomed and resigned as Israelis are to the world's double standards, they nevertheless watch with renewed amazement as Mabhouh's suspected killers are placed on Interpol's wanted list, where Mabhouh himself never appeared - soaked with blood as his hands were.


Mighty Panthers declawed – Panthers, Australia's largest licensed club empire, is in financial meltdown and is expected to report an $11 million loss to members – Sydney Sun Herald


State warned to get off the grass – The Victorian government has been accused of economic lunacy and ecological madness for promoting a grass its own experts warn is capable of invading millions of hectares – Melbourne Sunday Age



Grammar rules in the new curriculum's principles of learning – Grammar will be front and centre of the federal government's new national English curriculum. The standards for English, history, maths and science will also be guided by three overarching principles: indigenous history and culture, sustainability and Australia's engagement with AsiaSydney Sun Herald


The drugs

Wake-up call for teen pot smokers – Young adults who used marijuana as teens were more likely than those who didn't to develop schizophrenia and psychotic symptoms, a seven-year Australian study found – Sydney Sun Herald

Drug tests on Queensland Police Service members at low rate – Despite rising concerns about skyrocketing drug use in the Queensland's Police Service, only one in 250 officers are screened for substance abuse each year – Brisbane Sunday Mail

Real estate

Broady speaking, buyers are flocking to the north and west - They have never been flash or fashionable places to live, but with Melbourne's median house price now well over half a million dollars, buyers are flocking to the city's cheaper northern and western suburbs – Melbourne Sunday Age

Saturday, 27 February 2010

Media wrap - Half a sacking for Garrett



Major rebuff to Garrett - Kevin Rudd has stripped Peter Garrett of control over the home insulation program in a dramatic and humiliating shrinking of his minister's responsibilities. After weeks of the government bleeding from the crisis, Mr Rudd has installed Greg Combet, the junior climate change minister, to implement the wind-up of the cancelled scheme and the roll-out of its successor – Melbourne Age

No sugar coating on this pill – Peter Garrett has been demoted and stripped of his energy efficiency duties under a ministerial restructure designed to ease the pressure on the government caused by the bungled insulation program – Sydney Morning Herald

Combet steps up to bigger environment role – Greg Combet is the government's new environment policy fix-it man after it narrowly averted another climate scheme disaster. Hours before his promotion yesterday as the Assistant Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency, the government revealed changes to its renewable energy target just in time to avoid more damaging headlines about stalled wind farm investments and mass job losses as it tried to mop up after the home insulation scheme bungle – Sydney Morning Herald

Dry resolve in the face of crisis – Robyn Kruk, the bureaucrat at the centre of the federal government's insulation scandal, is no stranger to trouble or political crisis - including to crises which involve deaths under a government's watch – Sydney Morning Herald

PM changes direction on climate – Kevin Rudd has sacked Peter Garrett over his handling of the bungled $2.45 billion roofing insulation scheme and overhauled the government's core climate change policies in the wake of the emissions trading scheme being put on hold until at least May – The Australian

Now the rorts are in foil inspections – Dodgy insulation companies have been accused of rorting the government's $19 million program to check 48,000 homes with foil insulation – The Australian


MP's ex-aide escapes lobbying ban - Federal government promises to clean up political lobbying have been tested after a former senior ministerial staffer exploited a loophole in a code of conduct. Tim Murphy, a former senior adviser to the Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research, Kim Carr, joined global pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline as government relations executive within days of leaving the government payroll – Melbourne Age

The other drug war - the politics of big business - Big Pharma spends millions every year buying influence in Canberra. Adele Ferguson and Eric Johnston investigate the ruthless tactics, the money and the spindoctors behind the scenes for the Sydney Morning Herald


ASIO in fresh Israel spy probe - ASIO is investigating at least three dual Australian-Israeli citizens whom it suspects of using Australian cover to spy for Israel. The investigation was under way at least six months before the assassination in January of Hamas operative Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, now widely believed to have been carried out by the Israeli foreign intelligence service Mossad – Melbourne Age

Israel warned before on faking passport: diplomat – A former Australian ambassador to Israel has revealed that he warned the Israeli government not to fake Australian passports for intelligence operations – The Australian

A web of spies, lies and troubled ties - Israel may find it has to do some fast explaining. Australia and the other countries that have been dragged into this murky episode are demanding answers to how their passports wound up in the hands of an apparent Israeli hit squad. Austria is also working to establish claims the suspects used the country as a communications base. And with the web of deceit likely to grow - Dubai police say more suspects will be identified in coming days - the pressure on Israel will only intensify – Melbourne Age

Political life

Business, colleagues see no joy in Barnaby Joyce – Tony Abbott is being urged to dump Barnaby Joyce, with senior Liberal MPs - and business leaders - warning the outspoken Opposition finance spokesman is damaging the Coalition's economic credibility – Melbourne Herald Sun

Economic matters

Barnett rails at GST revenue `rip-off' of Western Australia – Western Australia is the big loser from this year's carve-up of GST revenue, while the states with the two biggest economies, NSW and Victoria, will each get a bigger share – The Australian

In the red, mortgage burden soars to $1 trillion - Australians now owe financial institutions more than $1 trillion in housing mortgages, almost 15 times as much as 20 years ago, new Reserve Bank figures show – Melbourne Age


Libs likened to Stalinists for move to kick-start port – South Australian Opposition Leader Isobel Redmond has been accused of "communist economics" after suggesting a Liberal government may underwrite the capacity of a new deep-sea port for the state's growing mining industry – The Australian

It's plan B for Labor - Officially the line was that Labor would not react to this week's EMRS poll. Behind the scenes it is scrambling. Labor wedge politics about forestry is back – Hobart Mercury

Labor kiss and make up – It was kisses and hugs all round yesterday when Infrastructure minister Graeme Sturges met rival Labor candidate Madeleine Ogilvie. Almost every time the TV cameras pointed their way, the fierce Denison rivals insisted on a smooch, apparently intended to prove that the Mercury's front page story of a bitter rift between the pair was wrong – Hobart Mercury

Aboriginal affairs

Group of 40 okays NT nuclear dump - Traditional owners will be paid $12million for hosting what will be little more than an ugly concrete bunker. The money will be put into a trust – Northern Territory News


Australia's shrinking air force – The nation's air combat force has withered to its smallest size in a generation, with less than half of the country's fighter jets available for operations – The Australian


Most attacks on Indians not racial: report - A list collated by the Indian high commission in Canberra and tabled in the Indian Parliament, records 152 assaults on Indians in Australia since the start of last year. Most of the victims were students and taxi drivers. And most of the attacks were classified as robberies and assaults, but 23 were deemed to have racial overtones – Melbourne Age

Africans attacked in NT - About six African refugees were attacked by a 20-strong gang of indigenous boys after playing soccer at Malak Oval early this month – Northern Territory News


Burning the Midnight Oil but still insulated - Peter Garrett is the frontbencher who shrinks and shrinks, but survives in part because of his iconic status – Melbourne Age

School's in for ALP – Shaun Carney in the Melbourne Age writes that the Rudd government got a good sense of its political mortality this month. In politics, no matter how well you're travelling, it is always going to be a temporary proposition, and the home insulation cock-up showed Labor just how quickly events and fortunes can turn. The second term of office that only a few weeks ago seemed guaranteed for the government has now changed categories, from "certainty" to "likelihood" – Melbourne Age

Crisis control in crisis as Rudd falters over fall guys – Tony Wright in the Melbourne Age remembers the Paul Keating playbook where ''Sometimes you have to kill one and hang him up in the town square so the people can sniff the corpse.'' Rudd has recoiled from quite so frightful a vision. Instead, he's gone the half-step and simply placed Garrett in a set of stocks, stripped of all but a singlet and a pair of underpants. He's still in the town square, however, a victim of ritual humiliation.

Putting a ceiling on the scandal – Peter Hartcher writes in the Sydney Morning Herald that after the collapse of Rudd's proposal for an emissions trading scheme, this is the biggest debacle of the government's first term. The failure of the ETS is a blow to Rudd's pretences to be a great reformer. The cancellation of the insulation plan challenges the Rudd government's claim to competence.

Garrett protected as long as possible - Ministers don't resign over departmental performance, writes Damien Murphy in the Sydney Morning Herald. A 1997 study by a British political scientist, David Butler, on political resignations in Australia between 1901 and 1996 found no ministers had walked ''accepting blame for public servants''. Since Federation, nearly 70 ministers have resigned but when they do yield it's invariably for personal peccadilloes that have nothing to do with departmental business.

The warning that we ignored – Miranda Devine in the Sydney Morning Herald says debate over the make-up of immigration programs has been largely shut down and marginalised as a redneck racist pastime. But we have vivid evidence of the consequences of poorly managed immigration in the disproportionate number of problems that have emerged from some Lebanese families who arrived in 1977 and integrated poorly into south-west Sydney.

War spinners on the defensive – Hamish McDonald in the Sydney Morning Herald on how the Australian Defence PR flacks ensure very bit of news is consciously filtered and projected to put the government in a good light.

The great march forward to spring - If there is going to be double dissolution election, Kevin Rudd will play it as safe as possible, writes Phillip Coorey in the Sydney Morning Herald

Be ready, the PM will speak to you now - Under pressure from his government's worst political blunder, Rudd had a message for suburban Australia: he accepted political responsibility for the home insulation fiasco, serious errors had been made and he was fixing the problem. Rudd staged a media onslaught that became deeply revealing. His tone was contrite and responsive. As Tony Abbott said, Rudd did a Peter Beattie: trying to win support and keep trust by admitting his failure – The Australian

Don't blame the polls for parties' woes, politics has its ups and downs – Dennis Shanahan writes in The Australian: Since the end of September, when Turnbull was floundering as leader and the Coalition vote was down, Labor's support and Rudd's personal standing have been in steady decline and the ALP's golden age of polling has come to an end. On primary votes, ALP support, which was about 42.7 per cent at the election, fell in polling from 46 per cent last September to 39 per cent two weeks ago. These are trends that will only reinforce the real concern within the government as it faces the prospect of further fallout from the disastrous handling of the roofing insulation scheme.

Chinese can fund our boom – Michael Stutchbury in The Australian looks at the views on debt of Barnaby Joyce and notes one way to spread the financing risk of this investment boom while the budget defence is repaired is to encourage foreign investment in the form of equity rather than debt. Unfortunately, Joyce also is campaigning against the most prospective source of such foreign equity: direct investment by Chinese government-owned companies in Australia's mining boom.

Team Liberal lite won't pull in the voters – says Peter van Onselen in The Australian. The Coalition must bring experience and ability to the fore if it wants to win.

Sceptics derail climate action - Global warming is a real problem, despite the ill-informed claims of the climate deniers argues Mike Steketee in The Australian

Decisive Rudd to atone for failures – Laurie Oakes in the Adelaide Advertiser (and all other News Ltd tabloids) on how Rudd is extending the self-criticism to cover the entire performance of his Government as it gears up for the federal election.


Councils sue after $18.5m investment 'imploded' - Twelve councils in NSW are bringing actions against Local Government Financial Services, the body that invests council workers' superannuation, for misleading and deceptive conduct and breach of fiduciary duty. The group bought $45 million of financial products called Rembrandts and sold $18.5 million of them to councils that returned seven cents in the dollar. In turn, Local Government Financial Services is preparing cross-claims against the credit ratings agency Standard & Poor's and the investment bank that concocted the products, ABN AMRO – Sydney Morning Herald


Wong hits switch for renewable energy – The Rudd government has revamped its stalled renewable energy target scheme to head off job losses and a "strike" by investors reluctant to put their money into renewable energy projects – The Australian

Evidence of first step towards reductionsAustralia’s greenhouse gas emissions may be reaching a plateau, even though demand for electricity is rising inexorably, new data suggests – Sydney Morning Herald

Solar complaints are hotting up - There has been an eightfold rise in complaints about home solar energy systems in the past six months amid claims of dodgy installations, higher bills and unpaid rebates on electricity that has been fed back into the grid – Melbourne Age

Boon for clean-energy plans - Threatened big clean-energy projects have been offered salvation through a revamp of the Rudd government's controversial renewable energy target – Melbourne Age


Net tsar to issue clean-up orders after Facebook backlash – Kevin Rudd has backed the creation of a federal office to make online social network sites take down obscene material sooner – The Australian

Kerry Stokes hints at retirement - yet again – Kerry Stokes is not entirely convincing when he says that he is looking forward to stepping back from the day-to-day running of his $3 billion corporate empire – The Australian


Law and order

Legal fears over new 'sex assault' disorder - Rape fantasies that lead to sexual assault will be redefined as a mental illness, with potentially far-reaching consequences for our criminal law system, under a new international psychological manual under development. Experts have warned of ''serious potential for misuse'' in a new disorder called paraphilic coercive disorder, defined in the draft Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders released this month in the USMelbourne Age

Lawyer to hold Ellis inquiry - A QC has been appointed to investigate formal complaints made against Director of Public Prosecutions Tim Ellis. The Mercury has learned the Legal Profession Board has decided to investigate allegations made by former police commissioner Richard McCreadie – Hobart Mercury

Pedophile hot spots in our state of disgrace - enormity of the problem of internet pedophilia in Queensland can be revealed for the first time by this map. The map is a "live" snapshot of the extent of electronic file sharing of the most heinous kind – Brisbane Courier Mail

Real estate

Buoyant market brings out the buyers – There is momentum in the Sydney residential market, although vendors won't necessarily secure over-the-top prices – Sydney Morning Herald


Curriculum puts Dreamtime first – School students will learn about Aboriginal Dreamtime stories, Chinese medicine and natural therapies but not meet the periodic table of elements until Year 10 under the new national science curriculum – The Australian

Friday, 26 February 2010

Media wrap - Richard Ackland gives an example of ASIO and secrecy



I'm to blame for the lot in bungled insulation scheme, Kevin Rudd declares – Kevin Rudd has expressed disappointment at his own performance over the bungled home insulation scheme, admitting he should have asked more questions about the program's implementation - The Australian

Rudd 'disappointed' in himself for insulation problems – Kevin Rudd says he is disappointed in himself for not paying closer attention to the rollout of the government's bungled home insulation program.  Mr Rudd is also standing by embattled Environment Minister Peter Garrett, saying problems associated with the scheme were largely due to the failure of the compliance system that had been put in place – Brisbane Courier Mail

MPs told to face voters over insulation bungle – Kevin Rudd admitted he should have asked more questions before implementing the scrapped insulation scheme as he ordered all MPs and senators to fan out across their electorates to confront community concern caused by the bungled program – Sydney Morning Herald

I failed on insulation program, Rudd admits – Kevin Rudd has admitted he should have asked more questions about the insulation program that has engulfed the government in crisis. In a major mea culpa, he said last night the program had ''failed the people's expectations of the government, and failed the high standards I've set for myself and the government'' – Melbourne Age

Foreign affairs

Australians caught in hit on HamasAustralia yesterday warned Israel its standing as a friend would be jeopardised if it were found to have condoned the suspected theft of three Australian citizens' identities by its Mossad spy agency to carry out a political assassination – The Australian

Smith reassures holders of old-style passports – Foreign Minister Stephen Smith has moved to reassure Australians travelling on older passports that there is no need to replace their travel documents for newer versions that include biometric data – The Australian

'Mossad' hit snares Australians - All 12 Britons, six Irish, four French, one German - and now three Australians - named by Dubai are victims of identity theft. Many are migrants to Israel. Media have tracked down some. They were dumbfounded their passports were used by people whose photographs told of different identities – Sydney Morning Herald

Israel challenged over forgeriesAustralia has taken the rare step of publicly reprimanding Israel over the forging of three Australian passports used in an apparent assassination by Israeli spies in DubaiSydney Morning Herald

This is what we thought diplomat was up to, says official – The apparent use of Australian passports in a Mossad execution in Dubai came as little surprise to Australian security officials, who advised on the expulsion in 2004 of an Israeli diplomat, Amir Lati, amid suggestions he was involved in passport fraud – Sydney Morning Herald


Staff of Victorian Planning Minister Justin Madden suggested faking community consultation – Brumby government spin doctors have been caught out with plans to engage in contrived public consultations, setting up photo-opportunities to boost ministers' local profile and leaking stories to the media – Melbourne Herald Sun

Heat on Madden over Windsor Hotel sham – Planning Minister Justin Madden has been rocked by a leaked document revealing a plan by his office to run a sham public consultation process over the future of the historic Windsor Hotel – Melbourne Age

Professional affairs

Politicians to set the standards for lawyers – The federal government has set a collision course with lawyers and the judiciary, announcing that a new board setting standards for the legal profession around Australia will have a majority of government appointees and will include a consumer advocate for the first time – Sydney Morning Herald

Medicos fight to keep 'doctor' to themselves – Doctors are slugging it out with chiropractors and podiatrists over exclusive use of the titles ''doctor'' and ''surgeon'' in a dispute triggered by a national scheme meant to unify the caring professions – Sydney Morning Herald

Political life

Soccer mum Susan Templeman is Labor's weapon in the west - Susan Templeman will become the second working mum from NSW likely to be chosen to run for Federal Parliament, with the party expected today to drop its plans to install its own candidate for the Blue Mountains seat of Macquarie and let local branch members fight it out – Sydney Daily Telegraph

Barry O'Farrell is a sexist, says Clover Moore – Lord Mayor Clover Moore has attacked Opposition Leader Barry O'Farrell, branding him "sexist and misogynistic" towards Premier Kristina Keneally in Parliament – Sydney Daily Telegraph

Senator lobbied for NSW powerbroker in factional feud – The outspoken South Australian Liberal senator Cory Bernardi has angered some of his colleagues by playing an active role in saving the preselection of the NSW powerbroker David Clarke – Sydney Morning Herald

Nile looks to Palin potential - The gun-toting, moose stew-fancying former governor of Alaska and Republican vice-presidential hopeful Sarah Palin may be visiting our shores this year. Fresh from charging $US100,000 to deliver the keynote address at the inaugural National Tea Party Convention in the US earlier this month, Palin is considering an invitation to spruik from our very own Christian Democratic Party to visit before the federal election – Sydney Morning Herald

Theophanous goes out with a nuclear bangAustralia should debate going nuclear and Victoria should be prepared to host nuclear power stations, former state energy minister Theo Theophanous said yesterday. In a dramatic final speech to Parliament, the retiring Labor heavyweight called on Kevin Rudd to lead a national debate on nuclear power – Melbourne Age

Economic matters

Two-speed economy on cards – Mining companies are planning a massive boost to their investment over the next year, but the rest of the economy still has its expansion plans on ice because of the global downturn – The Australian

Males earn a better pay rise - Male wages rose by 6.4 per cent last year but women gained a pay rise of just under 5 per cent. It means the gap between the full-time wage of men and women now stands at $11,913 a year, according to the Bureau of Statistics – Melbourne Herald Sun

Health and hospitals

Shot in the arm for NSW health with more beds, more money – Three thousand new hospital beds, a crackdown on obesity and money for private hospitals to treat public patients will be part of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's health system overhaul. The Federal Government is expected to give the states funding to build new stand-alone elective surgery hospitals – Sydney Daily Telegraph

South Australian Parole Board chief warns of releasing dangerous mentally-ill people – Parole Board chair Frances Nelson, QC, says it is inevitable that disaster will strike again as dangerous mentally ill people are released into the community. Her comments follow revelations that more than 40 people died - many of them committing suicide - soon after leaving the health system – Adelaide Advertiser


Candidate blasts Sturges – The  State Government has been rocked by a bitter feud between two of its candidates in Denison.  And it is all over who is the more true-blue Labor.
New candidate Madeleine Ogilvie is furious Infrastructure Minister Graeme Sturges has told voters in Hobart's northern suburbs she is "not really Labor" – Hobart Mercury

Dirty tricks switch alert – The Government and the Liberal Opposition have not ruled out running dirt campaigns to counter the popularity of the Tasmanian Greens – Hobart Mercury

Brumby ambushed on school newsletter – Political material featuring a photograph of the Premier and talking up the government's efforts to ''listen'' to community concerns has been sent to parents via a school newsletter - despite John Brumby denying Labor would do so – Melbourne Age



Theft burned a strong supporter – Greg Sheridan in The Australian argues Israel has every right to wage war against those who wage war against it but Israel certainly does not have the right to misuse the passports of innocent Australians in the process.

PM taking a risk by grabbing centre stage – Dennis Shanahan in The Australian believes Kevin Rudd has taken a big risk in taking over the evolving crisis that is the $2.45 billion roofing insulation scheme.

Betrayed PM should not be taken for granted by Israel – Kevin Rudd has been such a strong supporter of Israel that a former chairman of the World Jewish Congress, Isi Leibler, last year described him as ''a Christian Zionist - he understands and has some sympathy for us''. And this only intensified his sense of betrayal – Peter Hartcher in the Sydney Morning Herald

It was a week for bodgie batts, busy bees and bogong moths - Since the Prime Minister decided personally to shoulder ''full responsibility'' for the bungled home insulation program, his assiduous attention to detail has known no bounds. It reached the surreal point yesterday where he was giving out his phone number on Melbourne radio so home owners could call to complain about dodgy batts in their roofs – Amanda Devine in the Sydney Morning Herald

Secrecy is a denial of our rights – Richard Ackland in the Sydney Morning Herald gives an example of how it is virtually impossible to make any headway against the entrenched secrecy of ASIO. You cannot have suspicions confirmed or properly denied. None of this is a surprise but it has returned to the frontal lobes as a result of the government's counter-terrorism white paper and the beefed-up role for the agency in the fight against people smugglers.

Voters set bar too high for politicians - Despite the emphasis placed on being ''real'', should a politician actually divert from the script and display an inkling of genuine personality, they are pounced upon quicker than a hungry kid in a Minties hunt writes Judith Ireland in the Sydney Morning Herald

Local jihad the big fear – Andrew Bolt in the Melbourne Herald Sun writes that what we needed was to hear what the Government planned to do about it. And the answers in its new White Paper on counter-terrorism? Virtually zilch. Not even a word on whether it would be wise to cut immigration from Muslim nations, now running at about 28,000 a year. Nor was there anything about ending the mad multiculturalism that rewards most those who integrate least.

Rudd rides in to save the day - Kevin Rudd is sending his caucus into the community as an army of atonement, with the message that the government is in the problem-solving business – ichelle Grattan in the Melbourne Age

This is not the way to treat a steadfast friend – Daniel Flitton Spies, lies and murder: Australia's relationship with Israel has been dragged into the mud, with the potential that this scandal could get a great deal worse. An ugly episode, indeed. No diplomatic niceties softened the message from Foreign Minister Stephen Smith yesterday - if Israeli officials have tampered with Australian passports, ''Australia would not regard that as the act of a friend'' – Melbourne Age

The truth about an ex-PM's great mistake – Malcolm Fraser should not try to rewrite political history writes John Kerr’s former official secretary David Smith in The Australian

Gillard's schools site should be used to help close the gap – Andrew Penfold writes in The Australian that Julia Gillard's recent launch of the My School website marks a truly historic watershed in education reform. It is now timely to look at how this powerful tool can be extended to help address our greatest educational challenge: the Third World outcomes in indigenous education, the most critical element of the national policy objective of Closing the Gap – The Australian


Stalemate for BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto – Relations between the West Australian government and BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto have broken down over the miners' proposed Pilbara iron ore alliance, with Premier Colin Barnett accusing the companies of ignoring the state's demands – The Australian


Energy target latest green policy to falter – The Rudd Government will announce changes to its renewable energy target - another environmental policy failing because of maladministration – Sydney Morning Herald

Bid to quell water fearsSt Helens residents have been sent letters by the state's health chief to try to quell fears the drinking water is unsafe.  Panic buying of bottled water continued yesterday in the wake of the release of research that suggested the local George River might be contaminated with toxins from eucalypt plantations – Hobart Mercury


Web woes: Premier's turn to apologise – The Premier, Kristina Keneally, was forced to apologise to Parliament yesterday over the cyber-hack affair as it emerged that an original report given to the government, on which it made its cyber-crime claims, contained no allegations of criminal behaviour. Ms Keneally apologised in question time that her Transport Minister, David Campbell, had misled Parliament on Tuesday by accusing Herald journalists of being cyber criminals after they accessed the government's transport blueprint on a website – Sydney Morning Herald

Plug pulled on online transport forum after security failure – An online forum for Sydneysiders to comment on the transport blueprint has been closed after a security failure that allowed access to secret government documents before their official release – Sydney Morning Herald

School acts on Facebook bullies as anger grows over Morcombe page – Twenty students from Springwood State High School have been suspended over a Facebook page featuring posts that bullied a member of staff – Brisbane Courier Mail

Idea of online ombudsman considered: PM - Prime Minister Kevin Rudd says he will look into the idea of appointing an online ombudsman after Facebook tribute pages were defaced with pornography – The West Australian

Conroy's website removes references to filter – The minister in charge of the Government's web censorship plan has been caught out censoring his own website. It was revealed today a script within the minister's homepage deliberately removes references to internet filtering from the list – Melbourne Herald Sun

46,000 sign EB Games R18+ rating petition – A national petition in support of an R18+ rating for video games has gathered over 46,000 signatures in just three weeks. The petition, promoted by retailer EB Games in its stores and online, is aimed at influencing the nation's attorneys-general to change the law - and in particular South Australia's Michael Atkinson, who has been prominent in his opposition to an R18+ rating – Adelaide Advertiser



'Black armband' history dumped – The new national history curriculum steps away from the divisive "black armband" approach to teaching Australia's past, setting out a course of study that allows students to look at the nation's story from the indigenous and non-indigenous perspective – The Australian

Politics 'hampers students' – The education of young Tasmanians is being harmed by political interference and meddling bureaucrats, senior educators say. Launching their new book yesterday, University of Tasmania Dean of Education emeritus professor Bill Mulford and former school principal Bill Edmunds slammed the State Government for sticking its nose into education. And they criticised education goals set out by bureaucrats, saying they were so narrow that schools and society faced a values crisis – Hobart Mercury

The drink

Road safety

Tougher penalties urged to cut South Australian road toll – Higher penalties, not lower speed limits, are the best way to minimise deaths, most South Australian motorists believe. Nearly three quarters of more than 2500 respondents to the RAA's most recent member survey said increased enforcement, along with driver training and education, were vital to reducing the road toll – Adelaide Advertiser


Police alert over child `sexting' – South Australian children, some still in primary school, are becoming the new producers and distributors of child pornography, police have warned. SA Police say the "sexting" trend is becoming worse as more children are given access to technology – Adelaide Advertiser

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Media wrap - The insulation problem spreads to a second Labor minister



Rudd's new terror trap - Australia will target people from 10 countries for stringent new visa checks in a push to prevent terrorists getting through the security net. Visa applicants from countries identified as high-risk will soon have to submit to fingerprinting and facial imaging, known as biometric checking – Melbourne Age

Homegrown terrorist threat is on the rise – Homegrown terrorists pose an increasing threat to Australia's security, the Rudd Government's strategic blueprint to protect the nation warns – Brisbane Courier Mail


Hundreds of insulation jobs to go - The once booming insulation industry was collapsing yesterday, with hundreds of jobs axed and thousands more expected to go amid warnings the sector could freeze for a year – Melbourne Age

Garrett's 'electrocution denial': Abbott – Peter Garrett could have prevented the deaths of young men installing insulation and is in ''electrocution denial'', Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has alleged – Melbourne Age

I knew nothing, says embattled Garrett – Federal Environment Minister Peter Garrett was kept in the dark by his department about warnings it received that the home insulation scheme should be delayed for three months because of "extreme risks" – The Australian

Peter Garrett orders mass inspection of batts – Environment Minister Peter Garrett has ordered the inspection of about 160,000 homes with batts to check for serious safety risks -- a $47 million hit for taxpayers that brings to $60m the cost of checking the government's troubled insulation program – The Australian

Debacle puts decent men out of workThe Australian reports on insulation companies putting people off.

Batt Man Peter Garrett's ministerial sidekick outed as Mark Arbib – A second minister has been drawn into the Federal Government's insulation debacle with Mark Arbib - a close associate of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd - linked to planning for the scheme – Sydney Daily Telegraph

Arbib adds to Garrett's nightmare - A second Rudd Government Minister has admitted being made aware of the riskiness of the axed $2.45 billion home insulation program before it even started. But Employment Participation Minister Mark Arbib, who was appointed last year to oversee the economic stimulus program, yesterday insisted those warnings were not about the threats to properties and lives – The West Australian


Split vote could hand Independents power – Internal polling by both major parties shows the state election campaign is balanced on a knife edge, with the possibility of independent Bob Such holding the balance of power. Liberals are trying to hose down talk of victory in a bid to retain underdog status – Adelaide Advertiser

Cool heads needed to win seats in SA State Election – With the SA State Election race rapidly tightening, a handful of swing seats will determine who forms government after the March 20 state election – Adelaide Advertiser

Premier has real fight on his hands – February 5, 2010, marks the opinion poll Labor and Mike Rann did, and did not, want. On one hand, Labor would much prefer the polls to be close during an election campaign so they can exhort supporters to work harder in the key marginal electorates. Labor strategists do not want to go into an election so far ahead in the polls that their supporters become ambivalent and swinging voters decide it is possible to give the Rann Government a kick up the backside without risking a change in government. What Mr Rann will not like about The Advertiser poll is the result that his approval rating is now being matched by that of his political opponent Isobel Redmond – Adelaide Advertiser

Polly Waffle ad anger – Two ingredients too often missing from politics in Tasmania are youth and humour. But the recent advertising campaign by aspiring young Lyons Labor candidate Bec White showed she possesses both such rare traits in spades – Hobart Mercury

Betfair's winning deal - Betting agency Betfair cannot say whether it will remain in Tasmania if Labor is not re-elected  Labor emerged as the odds-on favourite with the betting agency Betfair, which has been promised significant tax cuts if the Government is re-elected next month. In the betting stakes Labor also remains odds-on favourite to win the state election. – Hobart Mercury

Money poured into lakeLake Dulverton at Oatlands will be given a new lease on life. With Labor yesterday pledging to pour almost a quarter of a million dollars into its restoration – Hobart Mercury

Governing style

Frustration over reform Rudd-lock – Kevin Rudd has been accused of running a "government in paralysis" as reports on expected reforms remain in limbo, frustrating those who have worked on them.  The Federal Government has commissioned an estimated 180 reviews, but is yet to act on many, including reports on health, sports funding, business changes and taxation – Melbourne Herald Sun

Economic matters

Buswell needs Budget top-up - Treasurer Troy Buswell is expected to ask State Parliament to authorise hundreds of millions of dollars in extra borrowing when it sits today for the first time this year – The West Australian

Political life

Fitzgibbon warned Beijing firm on Liu fraud probe – Former defence minister Joel Fitzgibbon warned senior executives of a Beijing corporation pursuing his Chinese-born benefactor over an alleged $6 million fraud that their action could harm relations with Australia. The federal Labor MP met executives from the state-owned Beijing Heng Tong Trust and Investment company on first-class trips to China in 2002 and 2005 that were paid for by businesswoman Helen Liu – Melbourne Age

Greek tragedy of 'erratic' PM – Malcolm Fraser on John Gorton

Vendetta claims top ALP scalp Matt Thistlethwaite - Minister Kevin Rudd's NSW campaign boss and state ALP secretary Matt Thistlethwaite has quit after a six-month campaign by union officials to oust him. But in what is expected to start a new war within NSW Labor before a federal election, Mr Thistleth waite will be parachuted into the Senate ahead of former Bob Carr staffer Graeme Wedderburn and a host of others – Sydney Daily Telegraph

A friendly Chinese lunch, some nice words, and then Labor boss is sacked - On the first day of the Year of the Tiger, Mr Thistlethwaite shared salt and pepper squid, shredded beef and garlic prawns with right-wing union leaders - and sealed a deal to give him a Senate seat at the next election to get him out of his present job. Senior Labor sources said the general secretary had been ''executed'' – Sydney Morning Herald

Bligh Government applies gag in Parliament 'more than in Joh era' – Anna Bligh's administration has been accused of gagging politicians in Parliament at a rate far greater than the much-maligned Bjelke-Petersen era – Brisbane Courier Mail

Chalkies pass buck - MLA's fault son 'no brainiac' – A politician yesterday denied he was blaming teachers for his son struggling at school. The CLP's Peter Chandler told Parliament: "As a parent, I did question how in the world does a student get to Year 9 with the ability of a Year 5 without teachers letting you know." – Northern Territory News

Health and hospitals

Private insurance rebate battle looms amid waste claims – Kevin Rudd has moved to create his second double-dissolution trigger, reintroducing the private health insurance rebate bill into a hostile Senate, as the government was forced to fend off allegations of chaos and waste in the Health Department – The Australian

Mixed response to McGorry's appeal for more funding – Patrick McGorry's call for more funding for adolescent mental health services has received mixed reviews from others in the sector, who mostly say more money should be directed towards prevention – Melbourne Age

Dosed up on donations and addicted to drug company money – Patient support groups and doctors are receiving millions of dollars a year from pharmaceutical companies under a grant system that is raising questions about their independence – Sydney Daily Telegraph

Cuts bleed Bellingen hospital: doctors - Doctors and residents have dubbed a string of administrative decisions over the past few years ''death by a thousand cuts'' and are fearful the North Coast Area Heath Service has gradually run down services at the 34-bed Bellingen River District Hospital with a view to closing it. Doctors will meet the State Health Minister, Carmel Tebbutt, tomorrow to demand a halt to cuts which have affected emergency, day surgery, maternity and acute care services – Sydney Morning Herald


Gillard to top up fund for college closures to $8m – The Rudd government has promised to chip in $5 million to the fund that reimburses course fees to international students in the event of college collapses – Melbourne Age

Aboriginal affairs

Macklin oversees town camps' facelift – The $100 million program to turn Alice Springs's derelict town camps into a regular part of Australia began yesterday with the arrival of builders to be followed later this week by the delivery of wheelie bins – The Australian

Industrial relations

Big miners want more flexibility – Resource sector employers have urged Kevin Rudd and Tony Abbott to immediately release policies supporting major changes to the nation's workplace laws, warning that the status quo would entrench third-party interference at the expense of productivity – The Australian

Company caves in to union demands – Unions representing about 2000 workers at Woodside's $12 billion Pluto LNG project in the Pilbara say they have secured a guarantee from the project's main contractor that could kill any talk of further wildcat strikes – The Australian


State Government spends $250,000 for Indian journalists to be flown to Australia - The Department of Foreign Affairs, through its international media visits budget, is paying flight and five-star accommodation bills of $10,000 for each of 25 Indian reporters from the subcontinent to take tours of Australia, focusing on Melbourne – Melbourne Herald Sun


There's no room for pilot error in $2 billion navy chopper deal – The Rudd Government's National Security Committee of Cabinet is today due to make one of the biggest and most important military purchasing decisions of its first term in power. At stake is a $2 billion contract to supply the navy with about 25 ship-borne helicopters whose primary role will be anti-submarine warfare (ASW) – Sydney Daily Telegraph

Local government

No love lost in titanic tennis struggle - Eastern suburbs activists lobbed on the city to give the council a serve. Paul Bibby writes in the Sydney Morning Herald on a row that brought John Laws out of retirement.


Labor's loose cannons allow friendships to turn frosty - How has it come to this? Australia has strained relationships with, in modern parlance, two of its ''besties'' in Asia, India and Japan. Both are democracies with independent judiciaries. Both are important trading partners. Both are friends that share common security interests. The answer turns on Labor's view that it has to make some concessions to the minority Left faction within the ALP and to the Greens – Gerard Henderson in the Sydney Morning Herald

Nothing to declare after PM's foreign affairs – Malcolm Colless in The Australian notes that since his election Rudd has lost no opportunity to strut the world stage to display his credentials in global diplomacy. But as with his endless promises of grand reform on the home front, it is hard to see constructive results flowing from this and a bang for the taxpayers' buck – The Australian

It's time for Kevin Rudd to kick goals and pay heed to Barack Obama's style – Phillip Hudson in the Melbourne Herald Sun writes that it will be crucial for Rudd and his team to get the right images and message from the Obama visit.

Debt-laden West faces lean years – writes Tim Colebatch in the Melbourne Age. The global financial crisis has split the world's economic powers into two groups, facing very different prospects. The rich countries, by and large, have become poorer and face a troubled future. The poor countries, by and large, have become richer and face a bright future.

Victoria suffers from too many watchdogs, not too few – writes Stuart Kells in the Melbourne Age. In Victoria the problem is duplication - different bodies have similar powers to oversee the same organisations. Our oversight system reflects fashions that have swept through public administration in decades past. As each trend has arrived, a new element has been bolted on.

Bad likely to get worse for minister – Peter Garrett's political future, tenuous as it is, has entered a new phase that is even more politically fraught for him and the Rudd government than the past 10 months, which culminated in the collapse of his flawed and dangerously rushed $2.45 billion roofing insulation scheme says Dennis Shanahan in  The Australian

It'll be tough riding the next wave – Michael Stutchbury in The Australian says Australians enjoyed a relatively painless global crisis, insulated by government borrowing, interest rate relief and Chinese demand. But now comes our tough resources boom.

Rann a poll model for PM – SA’s Mike Rann has long been seen as a role model for the way Rudd has approached his leadership: attendant to the politics of spin while also prepared to take a lead hand as part of an intervening government – Peter van Onselen in The Australian

Tony Abbott's made a world of change in 80 days - As Abbott and Julie Bishop notch up their first 80 days as the new Opposition leadership team, the odds that they can pull off an election win are shortening. As unlikely as it seemed only two months ago, they may get there in time – Ross Fitzgerald in the Sydney Daily Telegraph

Like a pink batt out of hell, Garrett absorbs the heat – Miranda Devine in the Sydney Morning Herald writs that the opposition wants his scalp. But Garrett is the government's human pink batt, insulating Rudd and his cabinet from the heat. For no other reason he's hanging on.

Outdated political thuggery embarrasses Malaysia  - The case against Anwar is a joke. It exposes the Najib government as desperate and underhanded. It makes Malaysia a subject of international ridicule. While under Mahathir this form of legal manipulation might have been smart autocracy, in today's world it just looks like Malaysia is playing around with its national future – Peter Hartcher in the Sydney Morning Herald


Stokes makes big score close to home - The media and mining magnate has engineered a billion-dollar scrip buy-out of his WesTrac mining services assets in a merger with his listed media assets, Seven Network – Melbourne Age

Stokes plots revolution at Seven with WesTrac merger – Kerry Stokes is betting that the $3 billion combination of his media and mining services interests gives him more firepower to pursue a wider range of deals, but the Seven Network executive chairman will first have to convince a wary market that the merger is in the best interests of all shareholders – The Australian

Port Lincoln Tuna Processors to stop producing John West cans – The nation's last tuna cannery, at Port Lincoln, will halt production because of cuts to the southern bluefin tuna quota and the high Australian dollar. At the end of May, Port Lincoln Tuna Processors will stop producing John West canned tuna products, which will instead be made in ThailandAdelaide Advertiser

Huge profit drop for Gunns – Timber company Gunns Ltd is on the cusp of a major shake-up after posting a 98 per cent drop in profits in the first half of the financial year. The company told the Australian Stock Exchange today that its half-yearly profit after tax had fallen to just $400,000 from $33.6 million at the same time last year – Hobart Mercury


Vote on ETS to be delayed until May – A vote on the government's emissions trading scheme is expected to be pushed back until May - with the government and opposition blaming each other for the delay – Melbourne Age

Improved warnings sought for river algae – Water officials were urged to improve communication of toxic algal blooms in the Murray River just two months ago, adding to concerns that inadequate warnings are in place for those using the river this week – Melbourne Age

Tree farm cancer 'link' - On national TV last night, St Helens doctor Alison Bleaney said toxicity tests she had helped fund indicated river "scum" or foam from plantations in the Georges River catchment might be causing inexplicable cancer clusters and health problems – Hobart Mercury


Stokes hits back at rebate claim – Seven Network boss Kerry Stokes has delivered a rebuke to Tony Abbott over his description of TV licence fee rebates as a bribe – Melbourne Age



Keep Tiger out of our woods, say Nationals – The philandering ways of Tiger Woods should disqualify the champion golfer from receiving taxpayer dollars to play in Victoria, says Nationals leader Peter Ryan – Melbourne Age

The arts

Home is where the art is – Kate Blanchett in the Melbourne Age writes that ee know that countries with strong cultural identities demonstrate greater social cohesion and on and on and on. We must remember the arts do more than just that. We process experience and make experience available and understandable. We change people's lives, at the risk of our own. We change countries, governments, history, gravity and after gravity, culture is the thing that holds humanity in place, in an otherwise constantly shifting and, let's face it, tiny outcrop in the middle of an infinity of nowhere.


Nobel winner wants business to cut poverty – Having received the 2006 Nobel peace prize for doling out millions of dollars in tiny loans to the poor, Muhammad Yunus is promoting another big idea - and again, strangely for a banker, the word ''profit'' is not the main feature – Melbourne Age


Funding cut to overly political student body – A Sydney university is believed to be the first in the country to cut back and control funding to its student council for playing too much politics. On the eve of orientation week, the University of Western Sydney suspended ordinary funding arrangements after complaints that the student body, called the Hive, was "too political", according to Hive president Jacob Carswell-Doherty – The Australian


Nude sunbathers say the law is an ass - Little Congwong has been an unofficial haven for naturists for 50 years. However, complaints from locals saw police raid the beach on Sunday and threaten nude bathers with fines. Yesterday, the sun lovers were defiant, returning to the beach despite warning signs and the police raid – Sydney Daily Telegraph


Schools leaving students at the mercy of psychological bullyingQueensland schools are failing to properly deal with the two worst kinds of bullying and often don't even check how their existing anti-bullying measures are working, the Government's own expert has warned – Brisbane Courier Mail


Civic leaders want accurate forecasts to manage population growthSoutheast Queensland's civic leaders have backed the region's current population plan, but all agree that it needs fine-tuning. The leaders, speaking at last night's public forum on the state's development, said the accuracy of future projections were crucial – Brisbane Courier Mail