Saturday, 13 March 2010

Media wrap - PM accused of being rude to the Premier

POLITICS AND ECONOMICS

Elections

Foes unite on poll fear - In the shadow of next weekend's election, four former premiers -- two Liberal and two Labor -- released a joint press statement late yesterday to highlight their fears if the Greens hold the balance of power in a new parliament. The four are Labor's Paul Lennon and Michael Field and Liberals Robin Gray and Tony Rundle – Hobart Mercury

Old foes unite to warn against minority government – Former political foes yesterday united in a bid to warn voters of what they described as the "dangers of minority government", but the unprecedented move has been labelled an act of desperation that could backfire – Launceston Examiner

Labor, Greens in ad war – The Government has launched an advertising blitz targeting the Tasmanian Greens. A new 30-second Labor Party commercial aired last night told voters the Greens could not be trusted. But the Greens immediately responded to Labor's salvo with their own counter-attack – Hobart Mercury

Campaign spending cap push – The Tasmanian Greens have called for the amount of money that can be spent on election campaigns to be capped – Hobart Mercury

'Healthier democracy' pushed – Election spending would be capped and state-based donations disclosure laws implemented under a suite of Greens policies aimed at "delivering a healthier democracy" – Launceston Examiner

Pox on both houses – Shaun Carney writes in the Melbourne Age that the government's intentions are becoming clear: a double dissolution election will be held within six months.

Mike Rann promises armed guards on Adelaide trains and trams - Premier Mike Rann yesterday promised 22 police-trained guards, known as protective security officers, would be posted on all trains leaving the Adelaide Railway Station after 6pm and all trams after 7pm every Thursday to Sunday – Adelaide Advertiser

Economic matters

Back to black: budget analysts make early call - Australia’s economic recovery has been so strong that analysts believe Treasurer Wayne Swan may be on track to bring down a budget surplus next year instead of the official forecast of 2015 – Melbourne Age

Leadership

Glossy Kristina Keneally too tired to pray – In one horrible moment this week Kristina Keneally had to choose between running the state and dropping everything to be a mother. The demands of her role as Premier came second but as Ms Keneally has found in her first 100 days in the job, it is hard to get the life-work balance right – Sydney Daily Telegraph

Rudd neglects Qld: Abbott – Tony Abbott has accused Kevin Rudd of forsaking Queensland and leaving it "choking on its own traffic" by failing to properly fund infrastructure – Brisbane Courier Mail




Tony Abbott is working on plan to provide 'family wage' to help meet living costs - But after this week facing a backlash from his own MPs for not telling them in advance about his $2.7 billion tax to pay for paid parental leave, the Opposition Leader is keeping it under wraps. In an interview with the Herald Sun, Mr Abbott confirmed a family wage "is something that I think is really important" – Melbourne Herald Sun

Health and hospitals

Abbott blasts Rudd over hospital beds - Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has challenged Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to announce immediately 3500 extra beds for Australia's public hospitals, as the Prime Minister yesterday renewed his attack on Premier John Brumby – Melbourne Age

Curt Rudd spoils for a health fight - Snubbing Keneally - one of the most decent people you would ever meet - takes some hide. Nor is this the first time: Keneally was reportedly distraught after Rudd was rude to her at a function in Sydney last Friday – Imre Salusinzky in The Australian

Angry Rudd snaps at Keneally in health war – Prime Minister Kevin Rudd took his health war against NSW a step too far yesterday in what appeared to be a deliberate attempt to publicly embarrass Premier Kristina Keneally. The PM left Ms Keneally and her advisers stunned when he snapped "let's get on with some health reform", after she delivered a glowing welcome to the PM before a closed door meeting to break the impasse over NSW's reluctance to sign up to Mr Rudd's plans. It follows an incident last week at an International Women's Day function in Sydney where Mr Rudd allegedly verballed Ms Keneally, in front of guests, after blaming the NSW Government for running a fear campaign against the reforms – Sydney Daily Telegraph

Foreign affairs

Obama to delay departure for Asia trip - US President Barack Obama will delay his departure on a trip to Indonesia and Australia by three days until Sunday, March 21, as he battles for health care reform – Melbourne Age

Political life

Windsor probe falls into chaos - An inquiry on the planning process behind the Windsor Hotel redevelopment descended into farce yesterday after Planning Minister Justin Madden tried to appear without being invited – Melbourne Age

Defence

Warning on delays for fighter jets - Australia could be delivered aircraft with stripped-back war fighter capabilities, in addition to facing further cost blow-outs to the Joint Strike Fighter program, a leading analyst has said – Melbourne Age

Defence blows millions in budget rort – Millions of dollars are being paid unnecessarily to contractors by the Defence Department to empty its coffers and ensure its budget allocation for the next year is as big as possible – Sydney Morning Herald

Female sailors 'bullied' into sex - Within the predatory culture aboard HMAS Success junior female sailors would agree to have sex with their male counterparts to ''get it over and done with so the focus would move to someone else'' – Sydney Morning Herald

Opinions

Cautionary tale of two policies - The political battle is currently raging over two huge reform plans: Kevin Rudd's proposal for Canberra to become the major funder of the nation's hospitals, and Tony Abbott's $2.7 billion parental leave scheme – Michelle Grattan in the Melbourne Age

Harry's Truman Show on the air - Regular free-to-air broadcasts of proceedings in the House of Representatives did not start until 1991. Since then, question time has become a performance about as authentic as World Championship Wrestling, though less polished – Tony Wright in the Melbourne Age

Power but little glory in polluted politics - We look to our MPs for leadership. Instead we get political game-playing writes Tony Fitzgerald in the Melbourne Age

Season's bleatings before the poll – Lenore Taylor says most journalists call summer the ''silly season'' because there's not much news. But in political journalism the season before a federal election can get even sillier. There's plenty of news but the debate is scatty, as politicians test their sound grabs but aren't ready to show us their fine print – Sydney Morning Herald

Why our foreign debt is a taboo topic – Ross Gittins explains why in the Sydney Morning Herald.

Abbott plays a decisive card - The Leader of the Opposition has stolen an icon of the Left. This is a brazen populism that has shocked everybody: the Rudd government is enraged at being outbid, the feminists are agog and incredulous that Abbott has joined their cause, and business is shrill with its denunciations of his economic irresponsibility. Brown caught the mood with his exclamation: "Go, Tony." It is a naked bribe with truckloads of money designed to shift female perceptions of Abbott – Paul Kelly in The Australian

Abbott's scheme is perfectly Liberal – Peter van Onselen in The Australian writes that the visceral response directed at Tony Abbott by sections of the fourth estate since the release of his big business-funded paid parental leave scheme has been remarkable.

With friends in high places – Michael Fullilove in The Australian writes that it is in the area of global economic co-operation, that Kevin Rudd has gone furthest towards squeezing Australia into the world's inner councils.

PM's snake, but Abbott may be bitten – Laurie Oakes writes in the Sydney Daily Telegraph how when John Howard was trying to sell his GST all those years ago, a worried Coalition MP described the new tax as "like a black snake in your sleeping bag". A source involved with Ken Henry's task force on tax reform reminded me of the remark and warned: "There are at least 10 black snakes in this review." I reported that on Nine News. The next day a minister phoned to say: "What you do with black snakes is kill them."


Let's not throw Abbott's baby leave out with the bathwater - Big business is on the rampage over Tony Abbott's paid parental leave plan and the Opposition Leader has come in for a terrible savaging. Anyone inclined to regard him as flaky has seized on his announcement with unfeigned glee: now he's really made an idiot of himself. But I am thankful he's drawn attention to Labor's stingy parental leave policy that we are likely to be stuck with for aeons. Once in place no government will be bothered to unpick the pieces, and remake the policy – Adele Horin in the Sydney Morning Herald



Trying to get out of first gear – Kristina Keneally is popular but the wheels of her government seem to be spinning, going nowhere, writes Andrew Clennell in the Sydney Morning Herald.

BUSINESS

Coal giants eye Queensland Rail bidsQueensland’s 14 biggest coal companies are set to raise the stakes in the battle for the state's integrated rail business by offering a substantial premium to the $3 billion the state government expects to earn from the sale – The Australian

The battle's not over for Gina Rinehart – When Australia's richest woman, Gina Rinehart, discovered she had been stripped of her prized 25 per cent stake in the Pilbara's biggest unmined pile of iron ore, she exploded with rage in a manner reminiscent of her late father, Lang Hancock. The West Australian Supreme Court ruling instantly wiped up to $1 billion from Rinehart's wealth -- last estimated at $3.4bn -- and will deprive her of billions in potential earnings from the Rhodes Ridge deposit, which was pegged by the swashbuckling Hancock in the 1960s – The Australian

The ATO bomb - The taxman is bearing down on big business like never before – Sydney Morning Herald

ENVIRONMENT

Perched on the edge of salvation - Over the past few decades the Macquarie perch, a fish that was once abundant in Victorian waterways, has found it harder and harder to find protection. But now Victorian authorities have declared ''It's Mac time'' - a time to focus on rebuilding its numbers, protecting its habitat and saving the endangered fish – Melbourne Age

Fishing in troubled waters - While the Rudd government has been driving a populist agenda to save a few hundred whales, it's shown scant interest in protecting tuna, which is a key source of income for regional centres in Australia and around the Pacific – The Australian

Toxic waste dump in Kakadu – The equivalent of six Olympic-size swimming pools of radioactive soil and mining equipment has been buried in Kakadu National Park. Parks Australia said it was not nuclear waste and the level of radioactivity was low – Northern Territory News

MEDIA

The ABC goes forth into a brave new world - Mark Scott is doing what no ABC chief has done before him: he is taking on Australia's media proprietors at their own game. As competitive as any businessman, he has also shown himself to be an astute political player, an unflinching opponent and an expansionist in his vision for his fiefdom. Under his leadership, our venerated Aunty is not just hitching up her skirts a little; she has broken into a cancan – Melbourne Age

Broadband is in Fielding's hands - The fate of the Rudd government's $43 billion national broadband strategy rests with the Family First senator Steve Fielding, who will spend the weekend deciding whether to support legislation aimed at forcing Telstra to sell its assets to the new high-speed network – Sydney Morning Herald

LIFE

Real estate

Banks put squeeze on housingAustralia’s housing shortage has intensified, with bank lending to investors to build new housing in 2009 shrinking to the lowest share of new finance on record -  Melbourne Age

Going, going...rebel real estate agent gets axe - A whistle-blowing real estate agent who has campaigned against deliberate underquoting of prices and bait advertising has been dismissed from the Real Estate Institute of Victoria's ethics committee – Melbourne Age

Bubble and squeak as first home buyers feel the heat - According to the Fujitsu Mortgage Stress Report this week, more than 40 per cent of the 255,000 first-time buyers who entered the market in the past 18 months are experiencing a degree of mortgage stress. By December, the report forecasts, the figure will rise to half – Melbourne Age

Nimby-led squeeze on social housing - Most of those who object to public facilities in their area actually express support for social housing in principle. It's just that there always seems to be a reason it can't be located in their area - Michael Lennon, chief executive of Housing Choices Australia, in the Melbourne Age

Light rail to push up house prices - Property values along light rail corridors could soar, a new report suggests, but experts say governments would need to temper the price rises with more affordable housing – Sydney Morning Herald

Heartbreak for first-home buyers - First-home buyers are deserting the real estate market, priced out by the national boom in property prices – Sydney Daily Telegraph

Aboriginal affairs

Jealous keepers of the sacred bones – Deep within the Pitt Rivers Museum, at the University of Oxford, is a box labelled ''Australia Ngaarindjeri 1900.55.292''. Inside is a human skull, one of four such Aboriginal drinking skulls held by the museum since 1900. Efforts to repatriate the skulls have so far been spectacularly unsuccessful – Melbourne Age

Sinister role of union revealed, but little else - has taken more than five years, thousands of pages of evidence and statements, the expenditure of millions of dollars, in excess of a month of court time, and still there is no answer as to how Mulrunji Doomadgee died in a cell in the Palm Island police station on November 19, 2004 – The Australian

Cycling

Sydney: the city that hates bikes - Sydney is one of the developed world's most hostile cities for cycling, according to a US academic who spent a sabbatical year researching ways to boost bike-riding levels in the city – Sydney Morning Herald

Superannuation

The great superannuation delusion - Despite compulsory superannuation, most Australians don't have anywhere near enough cover and the government so far lacks an answer – The Australian

Education

New preschool plan centres on environment – Preschool children will learn about values, critical thinking, justice, peace, cultural sensitivity and respect for the environment under a radical new education plan for toddlers – Sydney Daily Telegraph

Consumer affairs

How buying home brands can save you $450 every year – Households are paying twice the price for branded groceries no different to no-names, new Federal Government research shows. Consumer Affairs Minister Craig Emerson said yesterday a family which switched to identical generics would save as much as $450 a year, according to Treasury analysis of consumer spending patterns – Sydney Daily Telegraph
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