Monday, 8 March 2010

Media wrap - Latest opinion poll shows Labor still well ahead but Rudd popularity down



PM approval at new low - Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has received overwhelming public support for his push to take a bigger role in funding Australia's hospitals. In an Age/Nielsen poll showing Opposition Leader Tony Abbott's approval rising while Mr Rudd's continues to fall, Labor leads the Coalition 53 per cent (down 1 point) to 47 per cent (up 1) in two-party terms. More than two-thirds of voters expect an ALP election win – Melbourne Age

Voters warm to Rudd's health plan – Kevin Rudd has received a resounding endorsement of his health reform plan with eight out of 10 voters supporting the Commonwealth taking a greater role in funding the public hospital system. The finding is contained in the latest Herald/Nielsen poll which also shows that while Labor holds a strong election-winning lead over the Coalition, Tony Abbott's personal ratings continue to climb while those of Mr Rudd are now at their lowest level since he became Prime Minister – Melbourne Age

Libs losing poll edge on economy - The Coalition maintains a healthy lead over Labor as the best party to manage the economy and interest rates, but the ALP has narrowed the gap on these issues while in government, according to the Age/Nielsen poll – Melbourne Age

Labor in box seat, but Abbott will be smiling - The messages from the Age/Nielsen poll are mixed. Kevin Rudd will feel vindicated by the backing for a greater federal role in hospitals funding. He'll be concerned that Tony Abbott's approval ratings are headed north while his own go south. But Labor can draw comfort from still being in the electoral box seat, and from most people believing it will win – Michelle Grattan in the Melbourne Age

Hospitals throw PM a lifeline – Peter Hartcher in the Sydney Morning Herald writes that a political normalisation is occurring. Rudd's popularity has been phenomenal, stronger and more durable than any other leader's in the 37 years of the Nielsen polling. Now that it's falling from the stratosphere to the troposphere, it's coming to resemble politics as normal.

Kevin pulls out a heart starter – Kevin Rudd is getting his groove back and there's nothing he likes more in an election year than playing political dress-ups. This week it's health, so the Prime Minister, wearing a surgical gown, has revealed he's handy with a defibrillator – The Australian

Coalition seen as stronger on economy - Labor government may have saved the economy from recession, and interest rates are at record lows, but most voters still rate the Coalition as the better party to handle both issues, the latest Herald/Nielsen poll finds – Sydney Morning Herald

Anna Bligh faces electoral backlash over asset sales – One of the architects of the Bligh Government's plan to sell state assets, Treasurer Andrew Fraser, would retain his Brisbane seat despite a major voter backlash over the decision. However, new research has revealed up to 25 of Mr Fraser's Labor colleagues would be joining jobless queues after the next election if asset sales proceed – Brisbane Courier Mail

Health and hospitals

This time it's personal for Kevin Rudd – A lifelong connection with hospitals underpins Kevin Rudd's determination to fix the health system.  In an interview with the Melbourne Herald Sun, the Prime Minister said he had been influenced by his own experience visiting hospital as a child and adult, working as a teenage wardsman, the four nurses in his family, and watching relatives die.

I know state of Victorian hospitals better, warns Prime Minister Kevin Rudd – Kevin Rudd says John Brumby is "kidding himself" if he thinks Victoria's hospitals do not need significant improvement – Melbourne Herald Sun

Up to 15,000 public service jobs in NSW Health department in firing line under health reforms - "Too much money is chewed up by bureaucrats - by state health bureaucrats - on the way through, frankly," Mr Rudd said. "State health bureaucracies are bloated. That's my view." It's also the view of consultant Ken Baxter, the former top public service adviser to premiers Bob Carr in NSW and Jeff Kennett in Victoria – Sydney Daily Telegraph

Kevin Rudd's hospital plan to increase GST, says Ken Baxter - GST would have to be increased from 10 to 12.5 per cent to pay for Kevin Rudd's health overhaul, a former top bureaucrat has warned – Brisbane Courier Mail

States revolt on health plan – Kevin Rudd faces growing distrust among premiers over his proposed health funding shake-up, reducing the chance of a negotiated agreement on a federal takeover of public hospitals – The Australian

Rudd attacks health fat cats - Kevin Rudd has promised West Australians his ambitious health reforms will deliver more doctors, nurses and hospital beds by taking a knife to the State's "bloated" bureaucracy and its excessive salaries. In an interview with The West Australian at the Lodge at the weekend, the Prime Minister singled out the $540,000 salary package of WA Health Department tsar Kim Snowball as symptomatic of a State system gone bad.

South Australian taxpayers spending $40,000 a week on troubled teen's care cost – A team of 25 Families SA carers is providing around-the-clock supervision for a mentally ill 17-year-old girl, costing the state up to $40,000 a week. Youth workers say the teenager has been dumped by the state's failing mental health system – Adelaide Advertiser


South Australian minister's wife and Lib worker's bingle - Even inadvertent mishaps can become campaign centrepieces. Police Minister Michael Wright's wife Meredith found herself in that position yesterday. Mrs Wright was on her way to join her husband at a Norwood fundraiser for local Labor MP Vini Ciccarello when her car was in a collision with another – Adelaide Advertiser

Brumby promises to reduce litter - A re-elected Brumby government would aim to reduce litter by 25 per cent by 2014 – Melbourne Age

Don't make Muslims a poll issue: leader - A senior Muslim leader has written to federal political leaders urging them not to use Muslims in political manoeuvring as the federal election approaches, but to consult Muslims and build trade – Melbourne Age

With pressure at home, Kevin747 isn't flying - Kevin747 has clipped his wings. The globe-trotting Prime Minister hasn't got off the ground for an overseas trip all year and looks likely to sacrifice a pet-project or two to keep the home fires burning ahead of the election. Mr Rudd is set to disappoint Barack Obama when the US President visits Australia this month, rejecting a special invitation to take part in a nuclear weapons summit in Washington in April – Melbourne Age

Not even a handshake for the victor as Neal soap opera comes to an end – The Labor machine has swiftly shifted its support to Deborah O'Neill following the academic's landslide preselection win over the controversial sitting MP Belinda Neal – Sydney Morning Herald


Juries to hear prior crimes - If returned on March 20, Labor would amend the 1921 Evidence Act to allow juries to hear similar fact evidence, propensity evidence and evidence of uncharged acts in cases involving violent crime and sex offences – The Australian

Muslim leader wants elements of sharia in Australia – Elements of Islamic law - the sharia - should be legally recognised in Australia so that Muslims can live according their faith, a prominent Muslim leader says. Addressing an open day at Lakemba Mosque on Saturday, the president of the Australian Islamic Mission, Zachariah Matthews, said parts of sharia could be recognised as a secondary legal system so that Muslims were not forced to act contrary to their beliefs – Sydney Morning Herald


Asylum seekers flood in – Asylum seekers are now arriving at a faster rate under Kevin Rudd than under the Howard government at the height of its refugee crisis – Melbourne Herald Sun

SBY set to sign people-smuggling agreement - New arrangements to cope with the surge of illegal boat arrivals in Australia will be announced during the visit to Canberra this week of Indonesia's President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono – Melbourne Age

Industrial relations

Unions take on Abbott - Uunion movement has revived its most potent weapon for the coming election campaign: a working mum called Tracy. - Melbourne Herald Sun

NSW workers face pay cuts of up to $370 a week under Rudd government workplace reforms – Tens of thousands of NSW workers face pay cuts of up to $370 a week under sweeping Rudd Government workplace reforms. In a major election-year challenge to Labor, truck drivers, funeral workers, bar staff, aged care nurses and clerks are furious at award changes – Sydney Daily Telegraph


Fees on super funds could soar to $8.2bn - Australians could be paying $8.2 billion in superannuation commissions a year, triple what they pay now, if the Rudd government fails to stamp out the many hidden commissions that investors unwittingly pay financial planners – Melbourne Age


ICAC to investigate Burwood Council – Burwood Council is bracing itself for potentially embarrassing revelations as the Independent Commission Against Corruption prepares to hold a two-week public hearing into corruption allegations – Sydney Morning Herald


PM's obsession rolls on, taking hospitals in the wrong direction - says Paul Sheehan in the Sydney Morning Herald. All Kevin Rudd's instincts are to aggregate power to Canberra instead of devolving greater power and autonomy to those who actually deliver services, such as headmasters and medical professionals. The result of Rudd's obsession with centralisation and standardisation has been a succession of debacles.

Health reform plan has rationalist fingerprints - If money matters, we can't allow vested interests in the health industry to con us into believing ''efficiency'' and ''productivity'' are dirty words. Successive reports have shown that our health system lacks efficiency, with much of the inefficiency having its origins in the divided responsibility for the system, which leaves both federal and state governments with insufficient power or incentive to improve matters – Ross Gittins in the Sydney Morning Herald

Jones joins the Gillard fan club – Malcolm Farr writes in the Sydney Daily Telegraph that there is no doubt the Gillard fan club is expanding while the Kevin Rudd appreciation society is shrinking.

Rudd's thirst for a headline produces hasty, and deadly, policy – Glenn Milne in The Australian prints an email sent from within the Environment Department that gives “a grave insight into the absolute chaos behind the scenes of the Rudd government and how the politics of getting re-elected this year is driving everything, and I mean everything, no matter how much Rudd keeps repeating that he is hard at work in the best long-term policy interest of the country.”

We can't blame Garrett for batts bungle – Kenneth Davidson in the Melbourne Age says nobody should be surprised that Garrett was compromised from day one in his environment portfolio. He was parachuted into a safe NSW Labor seat over a vibrant and large branch membership, which was disenfranchised by the self-perpetuating oligarchs who now run the ALP for their own benefit. He is their prisoner. They wanted his name, not his ideas.

The politics of cattiness, drip-feeds and control – Phillip Coorey in the Sydney Morning Herald notes that the ABC's telecast of Kevin Rudd's speech to the National Press Club on Wednesday, in which he announced his health reform policy, ended at 1.39pm. Just 22 minutes later the Family First senator, Steve Fielding, issued an 11-paragraph media release canning the policy as a half-baked rearrangement of the deckchairs that would do nothing to reduce hospital waiting times. The haste in which he made his views known only showed further that in this election year, opponents of the government are barely pretending to be serious about policy scrutiny.

Kick back and endure being bored and uncomfortable – Clive Hamilton in the Sydney Morning Herald finds idleness is celebrated in an exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery in Canberra.


QR National to list on stock exchange despite mounting opposition - QR National is on track for a $3 billion December quarter stockmarket listing, despite mounting opposition to the plan from rivals, mining companies and unions – Brisbane Courier Mail


Sewage key to drinking water plans - Australian governments should immediately begin integrating recycled sewage into their drinking water plans, despite the severe water shortages of recent years easing in most capital cities – Melbourne Age


News moves a step closer to formulating paid online content – News Corporation held a high-level meeting of 50 or so newspaper executives from around the globe in New York late last month to discuss the company's plans to charge for online content – The Australian

Option to bar high-cost SMS - Mobile phone users will be able to request a bar on high-cost premium SMS services from the middle of the year – Melbourne Age



More wealthy eastern Adelaide suburb parents prefer public schools – More wealthy parents in the eastern suburbs are sending their children to public schools instead of high-fee private establishments, the new My School website shows – Adelaide Advertiser

The arts

State Opposition attacks art grants as a misuse of NSW taxpayers' money – There’s the $7000 spent on the "Big Butch Billboard" and $15,000 to fund research into the rise and downfall of Prussia between 1600 and 1947. They're just two of the arts grants that the State Opposition has attacked as a misuse of NSW taxpayers' money – Sydney Daily Telegraph

Road safety

Real estate

House auctions find ready buyers across Australia – The booming property market has shrugged off last week's interest rate rise, with strong auction clearance rates recorded across the nation at the weekend – The Australian

Rain, hail or shine - the bidding stays strong - Despite the Labour Day holiday, which typically has fewer auctions scheduled, agents reported decent crowds gathering at many of the weekend's 238 auctions. The results cap off another solid week of property sales in 2010, with the $25-million sale of a Toorak mansion breaking Melbourne's record house price of $21 million in November – Melbourne Age

Law and order

Top cop orders probe on OPI - Senior Victorian police are investigating the Office of Police Integrity - the body charged with probing allegations against police - over claims that OPI investigators tampered with vital evidence in an anti-corruption ''sting''. In an unprecedented role switch, Chief Commissioner Simon Overland has ordered his office to look into allegations that OPI staff used unethical methods – Melbourne Age

Working mothers

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