Monday, 22 February 2010

Media wrap - The Garrett story keeps getting worse for the Government



Senate to quiz Garrett's men - Officials from Peter Garrett's department will be questioned at a Senate hearing today on the Environment Minister's response to a report warning of safety problems with the $2.45 billion insulation rebate. Today's hearing comes as the opposition prepares a second line of attack on Mr Garrett over his handling of the Green Loans program, and his decision to cut zero-interest loans from the scheme – Melbourne Age

Prime Minister and Peter Garrett didn't see insulation warning – Environment Minister Peter Garrett has admitted he did not see a damning risk assessment of the federal government's roof insulation program until 10 days ago, 10 months after it was delivered to his department because of concerns the scheme could lead to death or injury. Kevin Rudd has revealed he was also in the dark about the taxpayer-funded report until February 11 – The Australian

Garrett lined up to take a fall - In normal circumstances, a minister at the helm of such a dud scheme would be sacked. That Garrett has not is evidence of the unspoken fact of this whole saga - that Kevin Rudd and his cabinet bear ultimate responsibility for having recklessly decided to pump $2.45bn into an unregulated sector without taking any advice about the consequences in terms of safety or value of money for taxpayers – The Australian

Nervous wait for roof checks – Home owners fearful of safety or quality problems caused by inept insulation installers could wait months to have their roofs checked in an audit promised by the Rudd government – The Australian

ACCC ignored Environment Department's urgent requests on insulationAustralia’s consumer watchdog fobbed off requests from the federal Environment Department to help track down dodgy installation businesses. Departmental officials had to write repeatedly to the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission seeking details of complaints involving shoddy or fraudulent insulation work – The Australian


New poll trigger looms - The federal government is on the brink of achieving a second trigger for a double-dissolution election, but faces pressure on multiple fronts as Parliament resumes today. – Melbourne Age

Major parties have wrong focus on health policies – While the major parties clash over whether South Australia should get a new Royal Adelaide Hospital or a rebuilt one, experts say broader health policies are more important issues – Adelaide Advertiser

Bartlett's 15,000 jobs pitch – Premier David Bartlett has made a politically risky pledge to create 15,000 new jobs by 2014 if his government is re-elected in March – Hobart Mercury

Hot rocks set to rollTasmania’s fledgling geothermal energy industry has been told to expect a significant election promise from the Labor Government. Early exploration studies suggest Tasmania is sitting on top of a huge source of geothermal or hot-rock energy – Hobart Mercury

Political life

Godwin Grech sent packing – Godwin Grech is selling up and believed to be heading for Melbourne. The nation's most notorious ex-bureaucrat has put his Spanish-style Canberra residence on the market – Melbourne Herald Sun


Abbott says no help for homeless who 'choose' to be so – Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has dismayed welfare agencies with his comment that governments cannot stop people from being homeless if it is their choice.


Alcohol industry 'infiltrating' government bodies, policies – The alcohol industry is infiltrating government bodies and influencing policies, a public health expert says. Public Health Association of Australia president Professor Mike Daube says the industry is as bad as "Big Tobacco" when it comes to pushing their wares – Melbourne Herald Sun

Aboriginal affairs

Native title change racist: Aboriginal groups - Indigenous groups say proposed changes to the native title law are racist and a throwback to the Howard era, and will reduce Aboriginal land rights to little more than a symbol after 10 years of struggle – Melbourne Age

Home refurbishment 'rip-off' – Aboriginal people in central Australia are demanding to know what has happened to hundreds of thousands of dollars in remote housing funding after completed refurbishments fell far short of community expectations – The Australian

Aboriginal corp wants industry on their land – An Aboriginal corporation wants a large portion of conservation land rezoned for industrial development. Plans have been lodged for the land, part of the Kulaluk lease that runs from Nightcliff through Coconut Grove to East Point – Northern Territory News

Health and hospitals

Greens' last-ditch push for health cash - A last-minute attempt by the Greens to push a private health insurance rebate bill through in return for mental health funding appears to have failed, after the Coalition and cross-bench senators said they would vote against the bill, regardless – Melbourne Age

McGorry in cash cry - Australian of the Year Patrick McGorry has called for an overhaul of the mental health system to direct funds away from acute hospital services to more community-based care – Melbourne Age

Drug company 'knew of diabetes pill risk' - Australian authorities are closely monitoring a common diabetes drug after allegations its manufacturer, GlaxoSmithKline, knew of heart attack risks years before evidence of a link became public – Melbourne Age


Professionals could be Queensland teachers in six weeks – Teachers could take charge of the most challenging classrooms after just six weeks training under a controversial strategy being considered by the Queensland Government – Brisbane Courier Mail


Iranian cleric, Mansour Leghaei, given 28 days to leave the country – Mansour Leghaei, the Iranian cleric twice declared a security threat by ASIO, has been given 28 days to leave the country after an immigration appeals tribunal rejected his final application to remain in AustraliaThe Australian

Asylum seeker influx the highest on record - A record number of asylum seekers and boats have been apprehended in Australian waters in the first two months of the year, an analysis of official records reveals. As a result of the influx, the Opposition has dubbed 2010 the "Year of the People Smuggler" – The West Australian

Boarding of illegal vessels for review - Procedures used by Australian Customs and the Navy for boarding illegal vessels will be reviewed in an effort to make interceptions safer following the Siev 36 explosion, in which five asylum seekers died – Melbourne Age

Queensland to draw up migration plan to curb population – The Bligh Government is set to draw up a migration plan for the state that could act as a brake on southeast Queensland's rampant population growth while ensuring regional centres receive a steady supply of skilled workers – Brisbane Courier Mail

Law and order

'Badge of honour' for hoons - Hoons who have their cars confiscated under the state government's road safety laws are treating it as a badge of honour, the opposition says – Melbourne Age


Vic under pressure for new corruption watchdog - Pressure is mounting on the state government to introduce a broad-based anti-corruption commission ahead of this year's state election, with former Liberal NSW premier Nick Greiner saying such bodies are essential to good governance – Melbourne Age

ICAC sent details of Della call – The day after MP Belinda Neal allegedly offered to help get medical favours for a Labor party member whose vote she needed, her husband and MP John Della Bosca rang the NSW health chief asking for her assistance – Sydney Daily Telegraph

Industrial relations

Australian Workers Union sued for strike actions – The Australian Workers Union is being prosecuted by the Rudd government's workplace watchdog for allegedly demanding strike pay from an employer and taking unlawful industrial action – The Australian


Asia masks the harsh reality of developed countries' anaemic performance – writes Ross Gittins in the Melbourne Age. We are like to see a continuation of two-speed growth. Most Asian economies have experienced a V-shaped recovery, but in the US, Britain and Europe the recovery is ''subdued'' at best. They will retain much idle capacity and high unemployment for years.

Private health? It's enough to make you sick – Kenneth Davidson in the Melbourne Age writes there is not much point in starving the health system of funding to minimise taxes if it shifts the burden from citizens as taxpayers by creating an even bigger burden for them as consumers.

A modern Moses with beliefs set in stone – David Burchell in The Australian believes that by the normal measures of prudent governance it ought to have been obvious that the business of combining our largest ever stimulus package with a vast wish-list of public infrastructure programs and improvised environmental remedies was laden with peril.

Drivers told to take a hike as roads lose out – Imre Salusinzky in The Australian argues that in her transport blueprint, Kristina Keneally seems to be channelling Sydney's trendy, car-hating Lord Mayor, Clover Moore.

Facebook 'friends' drop one on Tasmania's Robin – Glenn Milne in The Australian writs that if Bartlett goes down, federal Leader of the Opposition Tony Abbott's chances will be greatly enhanced. Put that with the latest Galaxy Poll showing Rudd is in potentially serious trouble in Queensland and you see what I mean about the Prime Minister being a worried man.

Fraser v Howard: the inside struggle - Was Malcolm Fraser the founding father of our modern economy? Was John Howard a frustrated reformer? Fraser, with co-author Margaret Simons, in an exclusive extract from his forthcoming memoir, reveals who was the activist in his government – The Australian

Abbott’s Labor attack far from trivial – Malcolm Farr in the Sydney Daily Telegraph says Abbott is a skilled political broker but no matter how much he touts his ministerial CV he has yet to demonstrate that he could match Rudd in policy weight. Of course, he might not have to if the electorate’s faith in Rudd’s ability to deliver policy - or to put it together without glitches - is destroyed by the Garrett insulation saga.



Murray's algae red alert fails to sway swimmers - Close to 300 kilometres of the Murray River has been declared off limits to humans and animals, as a toxic algal bloom worsened yesterday – Melbourne Age


Senators seek deal on TV licence fee rebates - Independent senators Nick Xenophon and Steve Fielding are likely to press the Rudd government for concessions on Telstra and alcohol advertising to secure their support for a plan to cut $250 million from licence fees paid by commercial television networks – The Australian

The importance of getting things right – Mark Day writes in The Australian that what  was incredible—that is, beyond belief— about the ABC documentary You Only Live Twice was that not once in the hour devoted to the life and times of the Hughes family was it mentioned that the central living character, the jazzman Dick Hughes, is a journalist.

Rebate triggers musicians' legal bid – The recording industry has seized on the federal government's $250 million licence fee rebates, which it claims will support local television content, to launch a drive to net local musicians millions of dollars in extra copyright payments – The Australian

News not so good for PM Rudd – He may have been wishing that it was indeed a good news week. After a tough week in the job, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd copped a ribbing from television comics on Saturday night as he taped an appearance for tonight's episode of Ten's Good News Week – Sydney Daily Telegraph

Rocky Prime Minister Kevin Rudd hits back - Facing declining popularity in the polls and fighting off demands he sack his Environment Minister, the Prime Minister taped an appearance on Channel 10 comedy Good News Week on Saturday – Melbourne Herald Sun


Consumer affairs

One size should fit all for labelling - In a submission to a national review on food labelling, the Obesity Policy Coalition has called for a ''traffic light'' system of labelling to help combat rising obesity rates. This identifies foods in red, amber and green according to their nutritional values per 100 grams – Melbourne Age

Fast-food outlets could be forced to provide calorie counts - Fast -food outlets may be forced to provide a calorie count on their products in a radical plan to fight Victoria's diabetes epidemic. Premier John Brumby has ordered a top-level inquiry to counter the effect of the millions of fast-food meals consumed every week – Melbourne Herald Sun


Rivals dig in as public garden plan divides - Passions are running high in Princes Hill over a popular park that former Builders' Labourers Federation boss Norm Gallagher went to jail over. On one side of the fence are those who want to turn a corner of the Hardy Gallagher Reserve into a community garden, with 60 plots leased to people to grow vegetables. On the other are those who fiercely oppose the alienation of public parkland for a select group. The issue has pitted neighbour against neighbour – Melbourne Age


National rating plan for Year 12 students – A national Certificate of Education for Year 12 students is "inevitable" and a key step in enhancing study and career opportunities for young people, experts say – Adelaide Advertiser

Real estate

Boom in top dollar homes – Top end real estate agents are reporting a boom in sales above the $4 million mark in the Eastern Suburbs, Northern Beaches and North Shore, with two private sales confirmed last week for $16 million and $13 million – Sydney Daily Telegraph

Road safety

Road safety plea - teach kids to survive – Families of those killed on the state's roads this year say they do not want anyone else to suffer the same grief - and have pleaded for improved driver education – Adelaide Advertiser
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