Saturday, 20 February 2010

Media wrap - Garrett still surviving

POLITICS AND ECONOMICS

Insulation

Garrett's backdown on insulation, solar rebates - The government's controversial home insulation program has been halted in a dramatic overhaul of environment schemes announced by embattled minister Peter Garrett – Melbourne Age


Insulation scams hit 160,000 – Kevin Rudd was standing by Environment Minister Peter Garrett last night after the government scrapped its botched $2.45 billion insulation scheme, admitting that about 80,000 households faced safety risks – The Australian

Law firm warned Garrett about dangers of insulation program – Damning legal advice to Peter Garrett's department last April warned that the government's $2.45 billion insulation program could lead to house fires and fraud. The advice from top-tier law firm Minter Ellison outlined strategies to tackle serious risks in the program. It warned that the government's timeline was too tight for the program to be delivered in a "properly controlled way" and said the Environment Department was ill-equipped to roll out such a massive program – The Australian

Broadside delivered at Garrett's `quick fix' – Peter Garrett's new home insulation scheme has been hastily cobbled together and could lead to further bungling and wastage of public money, the opposition has declared – The Australian

Lives lost in Garrett's haste to be seen as green – When  it comes to safety, consumers and workers rightly expect their governments to protect them. So when Peter Garrett rolled out a $2.5 billion scheme to insulate nearly 2 million homes in two years, it was fair to assume the Environment Minister had done his homework. Instead, despite repeated warnings from the electrical industry, he bulldozed ahead with his pet green scheme without ensuring all the safeguards were in place – The Australian

Ill-fated scheme goes out with a whimper – The $2.4 billion home insulation program was lovingly launched by Environment Minister Peter Garrett and Prime Minister Kevin Rudd in February last year. Where was Rudd yesterday? Nowhere to be seen: a pale and shaky Garrett was forced to stand alone, but for the ghosts of the four men dead, including a young man with a learning disability – The Australian

Batt-flip Garrett scraps insulation rebates – Environment Minister Peter Garrett will keep his job but thousands of workers will be sacked after the abrupt scrapping of the disastrous $2.5 billion household insulation scheme yesterday. And Mr Garrett's own department admitted that as many as 80,000 homes across the country may have been left with insulation that does not comply with the official guidelines – Sydney Daily Telegraph

Death penalty

Death for terrorists is an option, says Tony Abbott – Tony Abbott has said that in some cases execution is the only fitting sentence for mass killers. The Opposition Leader said he has no plan to reintroduce the death penalty should he become prime minister but if the death penalty issue was to come before Parliament he would ensure it was a conscience vote – Sydney Daily Telegraph

Transport

Revealed: Keneally's transport blueprint – The Keneally government's transport master-plan is set to rehash old announcements, with minor additions to the CityRail network, secret government documents reveal. While the government prepares to announce tomorrow that it will build a north-west rail link, it asks voters to take it on trust, because work would not begin until 2014 at the earliest – Sydney Morning Herald

$10 billion spent on Labor's new rail scheme – The State Government is hoping to find election nirvana through a $10 billion rail strategy that includes an express service to Sydney's most western suburbs to ease congestion – Sydney Daily Telegraph

Political life

Fury of a woman scorned - South Australian Premier Mike Rann's most damaging critic is not going away – Sydney Morning Herald

Queenmaker who's pulling more than purse strings - The Sydney Morning Herald investigates the power and influence of State Treasurer Eric Roozendaal

Fraser book attacks Howard `mythology' about his leadership – Malcolm Fraser has sought to recast his political legacy by attacking the "mythology" promoted by John Howard and the modern Liberal Party that he was an opponent of financial reform and a do-nothing leader. In his long-awaited memoir, Mr Fraser says that, as prime minister from 1975 until 1983, he was an activist who laid the foundations of a new financial era in the face of stiff opposition from the Treasury and the Reserve Bank – The Australian

Conroy's risky ride with the media moguls - It is seriously uncomfortable for Stephen Conroy right now, and looking ahead there is little relief in sight. The landscape is cluttered by ever more complexity. The issues will demand aerial loops of ever more extreme degrees of difficulty – Katharine Murphy in the Melbourne Age

Mother charged with prostituting daughter, 12 - In October, Tasmanian state upper house MP Terry Martin pleaded not guilty to having sex with a 12-year-old girl, taking a photo of her performing a sex act and possessing a copy of that photo. Martin returns to court next week after telling his bail hearing that he thought the girl was 18, as the ad said. Devine will face court next week, charged with child prostitution and rape – Melbourne Age

'I'd have saved Labor' - There would never have been an early State election in 2008 and Labor might still be in power if the ALP had chosen her over Alan Carpenter as its leader after Geoff Gallop's resignation, prominent Labor frontbencher Michelle Roberts said yesterday – The West Australian

Economic matters

Reserve at odds with Joyce view - Reserve Bank governor Glenn Stevens has declared himself at odds with Coalition finance spokesman Barnaby Joyce and questioned Mr Joyce's fitness for the job, telling a parliamentary committee he had ''yet to meet a finance minister who has ever mused any possibility about debt default of his own country'' – Melbourne Age

Stevens warns of rate rises, defends policy - Glenn Stevens has strongly defended the Reserve Bank's inflation-targeting regime and warned that further rate rises will be required to keep price rises within its band – The Australian

A quick return to surplus could show the world the way - A Labor commitment to paying off debt early would send all the right messages – The Australian

Loan repayments to jump as interest rates brakes applied - Homeowners can expect to pay nearly $200 a month more on the average Queensland mortgage as interest rates come off emergency levels and begin to normalise. – Brisbane Courier Mail


Aboriginal affairs

'Boss man' Brough leads way to a future - Former minister Mal Brough is helping the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara on tough choices – The Australian

Immigration

Victoria the place to be - Kiwis migrating here prefer Queensland. The British and South African settlers tend to get off at the first stop, Western Australia. Chinese, Filipinos, Koreans and Iraqis flock to Sydney and NSW. But for Indians, Malaysians and Sri Lankans, Victoria is the state of choice - or was in 2008-09 – Melbourne Age

Elections

A 'tough and tight' state election race ahead, Rann predicts – The SA State Election campaign is officially underway with Premier Mike Rann predicting a 'tough and tight' race ahead of the March 20 poll – Adelaide Advertiser

Opinions

Fly-by-night spivs the foil guys for Garrett – It was the Kevin Rudd version of straight talk. "Let's call a spade a spade," he said on Thursday. "There are problems with the implementation of this program." Problems? Let's really call a spade a spade, Prime Minister. The home insulation scheme was a mess. A shambles. A disaster – Laurie Oakes in the Sydney Daily Telegraph

World works better thanks to healthy markets – Ross Gittins in the Sydney Morning Herald on the rediscovery of the supply side which is transforming the world economy.

Fire prevention a burning issue – Miranda Devine in the Sydney Morning Herald writes that a year after the Black Saturday inferno, which killed 173 people, Victoria's bushfire royal commission is at last reaching the pointy end of its inquiry - the politically charged topic of prescribed burning and the effect of massive, unmanaged fuel loads on the fire's ferocity.

Common ground for Rudd and Obama: the opponents are surging – Tony Abbott has taken opposition to an entirely new level. It's the same level the Republicans have been on for a year now – Peter Hartcher in the Sydney Morning Herald

When education favours division over diversity - Public education gave John Pilger his start, but as he told Sydney Boys High School this week, success in life is more than winning prizes – Sydney Morning Herald

Fall guy should not take all the blame – Michelle Grattan in the Melbourne Age writes that in trying to deal with the disaster, the government creates new problems. The gap before the new insulation rebate starts on June 1 means many of the 7000 new businesses will go broke and people will be thrown out of work. Obviously, the industry should be shrunk, but there will be plenty of pain, shared with the government. The train wreck is a result of the pressure to act hastily because the program was part of the stimulus package.

Reserve warns of growing pains – The global financial crisis is over, leaving just a ''North Atlantic crisis''. For Asia and Australia, as Glenn Stevens sees it, the challenge now is to manage the expansion - and there'll be a lot of it to manage – Tim Colebatch in the Melbourne Age

Back to the future – Shaun Carney in the Melbourne Age says Abbott's revival of the Howard agenda is by all means not comprehensive, but it is indicative: a politically convenient but half-hearted acknowledgement of climate change, a version of WorkChoices, an emphasis on tougher border protection and immigration, the establishment of local-board control for some hospitals, the privatisation of Medibank Private.

No chance of early election - The federal public service is being asked to act like state government departments, delivering services of a kind and scale for which it is not equipped – Dennis Shanahan in The Australian

Low inflation, budget surplus key to economy – Michael Stutchbury in The Australian says Glenn Stevens has signalled the Reserve Bank's determination to entrench low inflation by lifting interest rates in advance of the developed world.

Muslims the focus of misplaced fears - There is no hidden agenda for sharia law; Western society is not under threat - Rachel Woodlock, a researcher and doctoral candidate at the Centre for Islam and the Modern World, Monash University, writing in the Melbourne Age

Greece creates fiscal crisis for western world – Niall Ferguson a contributing editor to the London Financial Times writes in The Australian that on reflection, it is appropriate that the fiscal crisis of the West has begun in Greece, the birthplace of Western civilisation. Soon it will cross the channel to Britain. But the key question is when that crisis will reach the last bastion of Western power, on the other side of the Atlantic.

This town ain't big enough for both Rudd and Abbott – Peter van Onselen in The Australian believes the losing party will no doubt dump their leader in the aftermath of even a close result

Hodgman keeps his counsel – Matthew Denholm writes in The Australian that the Tasmanian Opposition Leader's campaign to become the island state's premier after March 20 is decidedly small target and his words and deeds closely guarded. While promising a new government of openness and honesty, he is as slippery as an eel if you try to drag him off script, on to tricky, controversial subjects.

Good God, it's Tony Abbott – Tony Abbott is riding a surge in popularity as he remakes himself into a potential PM writes Paul Toohey in the Adelaide Advertiser

BUSINESS

Supermarket suppliers use gifts to win shelf space - Grocery suppliers who contacted the Herald said there was an endemic culture of gift-giving to stop bullish buyers from deleting lines – Sydney Morning Herald

ASIC puts runs on the board: court wins – Late last year, obituaries were being written for ASIC's Tony D'Aloisio, but in recent weeks his fortune has changed with a string of new prosecutions and some recent court victories. The latest is the Victorian Court of Appeal's decision to overturn a decision last year blocking a second case against former AWB boss Andrew Lindberg, and wins in market manipulation cases in the Genetic Technologies and Select Vaccines cases – The Australian

ENVIRONMENT

We'll take Japan to court: PM – Kevin Rudd has vowed to take Japan to the International Court of Justice if it doesn't agree by November to stop Antarctic whaling, but a behind-closed-doors deal could blow a big hole in his case before then. A proposed compromise in the International Whaling Commission that allowed Japan to continue so-called scientific whaling, on a more restricted basis, could wreck Australia's claim that the practice is illegal under international law – The Australian

PM's shot across whalers' bows – The Prime Minister has raised the stakes over whaling on the eve of a visit by the Japanese Foreign Minister, Katsuya Okada, warning Tokyo to end its hunt or face court. Kevin Rudd said yesterday that if Japan did not agree to reduce its Antarctic catch to zero, Australia would go to the International Court of Justice by November, before the next whaling season – Sydney Morning Herald

MEDIA

TV licences and siphoning make for a political minefield - The next, and possibly most important, regulatory battleground is the anti-siphoning list. It is a crucial issue for pay-TV, which would dearly love to bid for more mainstream sport to increase its market penetration above 34 per cent – The Australian

LIFE

Real estate

Home truths dash hopes of first-timers - There is still little good news for first home buyers with more interest rate rises likely amid signs they already are being squeezed out of the market – Melbourne Age

Sainthood

Vatican confirms Mary MacKillop's sainthood – Sydney Daily Telegraph

The punt

Sydney's problem gamblers revealed – People in southern Sydney are up to eight times more likely to be problem gamblers than residents of the northern suburbs, a landmark study has found – Sydney Daily Telegraph

Lead

Free lead level blood tests for Mt Isa children – Parents in the mining town of Mount Isa are being urged to make use of free blood tests to check their children's lead levels – Brisbane Courier Mail
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