Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Media wrap - Previews of a debate


The debate

Claims point to fiery health contest between Kevin Rudd and Tony Abbott – Tony Abbott has been accused of falsely claiming $500 million in Rudd government health spending as Howard government money to conceal his poor record as health minister. Federal Health Minister Nicola Roxon last night accused the Opposition Leader of lying over his record to conceal 12 years of inadequate funding for the health system – The Australian

PM goes rogue on high-risk strategy - As Team Rudd and Team Abbott prepare for the clash today at the National Press Club, opinion remains sharply divided in Labor ranks and beyond about whether the Prime Minister's tactic was flair or folly – The Australian

Is the Worm friend or foe? - Will the Worm prove a friend of Rudd again today? Or has the Worm turned, in favour of Tony Abbott? Yesterday Nine and Seven both confirmed they would run the Worm or, in Seven's case, the PollieGraph, over today's debate – TheAustralian

Revealed: the medical plan Abbott won't be mentioning – The Coalition was poised to announce a plan to bypass state governments and directly fund new local hospital boards before last year's leadership change, but Tony Abbott decided to keep the details under wraps and has so far promised local boards only for NSW and QueenslandSydney Morning Herald

Expand debate beyond hospitals, leaders told - The emphasis Kevin Rudd and Tony Abbott have put on hospitals has disturbed many health leaders, who fear today's great health debate will fail to grapple with ''vested interests'' blocking important options like preventive care – Sydney Morning Herald

Kevin Rudd, Tony Abbott to lock horns in health debate – Kevin Rudd and Tony Abbott have accused each other of failing the nation's public hospitals - and their patients - as they ready for a debate on Tuesday – Melbourne Herald Sun

Tussle for point scorers as Rudd faces Abbott in health debate – The health showdown between Kevin Rudd and Tony Abbott will be big on talk to persuade you why the other man has got it wrong – Melbourne Herald Sun

Health and hospitals

Public hospital patients offered perks to shift costs to insurers – Public hospital patients with private health insurance are being offered a range of inducements -- from payment of their excess to free meals and parking for family -- to bill the cost of their treatment to their health funds – The Australian


Liberal victory in Apple Isle in doubt as vote count shows ALP can hold on – Tasmania’s election remains on a knife-edge, with strategists from both major parties now less sure of a Liberal government – The Australian

Legal action on the cards – The South Australian electoral commissioner has flagged changes to stop parties misleading voters with how-to-vote cards, as the Liberals joined Family First in seeking legal advice on Labor's "dirty tricks" in Saturday's election. Labor yesterday defended having volunteers, wearing T-shirts reading "Put your FAMILY FIRST", handing out how-to-vote cards that carried photographs of Family First candidates, but which recommended putting the ALP second on the ballot – The Australian

Protest over 'family' flyers – Family First and the Greens are demanding electoral law reform after revelations that conservative voters were duped into preferencing Labor in key seats at the election – Adelaide Advertiser

Tarkine road to fail in hung parliament – A hung parliament will bring major changes to Tasmania's policy landscape, with Labor's post-Year 10 education reforms and the Tarkine tourist road early casualties and a bet limit likely to be introduced for poker machines – The Australian

Rumblings of discontent – Splits are emerging within the Labor Party over Premier David Bartlett's decision to willingly hand government to the Liberal opposition if it wins the same number of seats as Labor from Saturday's state election. Well-placed sources said yesterday profound differences existed between key Labor players about why the Government should go meekly into opposition when it has as much right constitutionally to govern in a minority as do the Liberals – Hobart Mercury

Green power deal switch – Liberal leader Will Hodgman has been forced to rule out giving the Greens a seat in Cabinet - just a day after he left the door open to the possibility. Liberal sources were left bemused and concerned on Sunday when Mr Hodgman repeatedly refused to rule out giving the Greens a ministry – Hobart Mercury

Sturges: Media blamed – David Bartlett pointed the finger at "unfair" media coverage for the defeat of Graeme Sturges at Saturday's election – Hobart Mercury

New Riverland MP Tim Whetstone raises volume on River Murray water – The man who wrested the Riverland from Water Security Minister Karlene Maywald has vowed to be a thorn in the Government's side after what he calls her "silence" – Adelaide Advertiser


Labor shows Weatherill no mercy – Labor powerbrokers have swung their full support behind Deputy Premier Kevin Foley, virtually ensuring would-be premier Jay Weatherill is left mortally wounded within the party – Adelaide Advertiser

Hands go up for Labor's new team – Speaker Jack Snelling and highly qualified backbencher John Rau will be thrust into the next Labor ministry – Adelaide Advertiser

Opinion polls

Anna Bligh suffering credibility crisis, says Galaxy Poll – Anna Bligh continues to suffer a credibility crisis among Queenslanders, with most voters convinced the Premier is dishonest. A new Galaxy Poll, conducted for Channel Nine and The Courier-Mail, has revealed most voters don't trust Ms Bligh. Yet while the poll found Queenslanders were deeply dissatisfied with the Premier's performance, they believe she would be a better premier than Opposition Leader John-Paul Langbroek – Brisbane Courier Mail


Cleric backed by Iranian money – The Iranian cleric facing deportation from Australia after being judged to be a risk to national security received a $32,000 donation from the Iranian government for his Islamic centre at Earlwood in southwestern Sydney – The Australian


Labor divided on internet filtering plan - A rising tide of opposition in the Labor caucus is said to be a major reason why Communications Minister Stephen Conroy has delayed introducing legislation to force internet service providers to automatically sift out web pages on the blacklist – The Australian

Economic matters

Westpac chief warns of need to raise rates – Westpac chief Gail Kelly has warned that her company remains under pressure to raise interest rates further but has acknowledged a backlash from Canberra could make the repricing of mortgages and business loans tough in an election year – Sydney Morning Herald

Cask wine price to triple if taxation recommendations are in May Budget – The price of popular wine casks will skyrocket from $12-$15 to more than $37 if Treasury recommendations to change the taxation of alcohol are taken up by the Federal Government in its May Budget – Melbourne Herald Sun

Stimulus projects

Retail giants dragged into bungled batts saga – Major retailers and building companies are under scrutiny over their role in complex contractor networks which installed insulation in tens of thousands of homes under the federal government's botched insulation scheme. In the next stage of the fallout from the bungled scheme, officials are examining alliances between Bunnings and Harvey Norman and insulation contractors – Sydney Morning Herald

Insurers could sue government over fires from batts – The Rudd government could face lawsuits running to hundreds of millions of dollars if inspectors do not quickly find and fix dodgy insulation fitted in an estimated 2000 homes, a veteran insurance specialist has warned – The Australian

$900,000 doesn't even buy you air in school building programThe Australian examines the costs of a project at Hendra State School.

Confusion over cost of shade for school – The NSW government yesterday distanced itself from a dispute over a covered outdoor learning area at the Hastings Public School, in Port Macquarie, after it appeared to bungle comparisons with the cost of an earlier project – The Australian

School building contract opportunities are not for the locals – Every morning at 6 o'clock, as he sets off looking for work, licensed builder Abbey Clarke gets a vivid reminder of some of the distortions in the Rudd government's education stimulus program – The Australian


Labor shelves energy blueprint – The Rudd government has shelved its plans for a national energy policy blueprint for Australia's energy needs because of uncertainty about the emissions trading scheme and the cost to electricity generators of cutting carbon emissions – The Australian

Plug pulled on smart meter plan – The state government has temporarily pulled the plug on Victoria's $2 billion smart energy meter program – Melbourne Age


Bosses call for reading and writing courses to lift workforce skills - The Australian Industry Group in its pre-budget submission has called on the Rudd government to establish a feasibility study on creating a "literacy entitlement" for all students enrolled in VET courses, to tackle a crisis in reading and writing skills in the workforce – The Australian


More gouging building schools than in home loans – Michael Stutchbury writes in The Australian that the big banks are not "gouging" home borrowers. Gouging and overcharging is what's been happening to taxpayers with the Rudd government's home insulation and primary school building stimulus spending.

Gloss gone from threat to Senate – Malcolm Colless says in The Australian that Rudd's determination to force through cabinet support for a referendum on his national healthcare reforms if the states do not agree to surrender about $900bn in GST funding has heightened tensions within the government as well as with the premiers.

High jobless youth numbers fit under the health umbrella, too - The most significant contemporary social problem which can be remedied without any great cost to the budget bottom line is youth unemployment writes Gerard Henderson in the Sydney Morning Herald

Lives can be saved when you preach love – writes  Michael Kirby in the Sydney Morning Herald. The stigma over sexual conduct often taught by religious people can no longer be accepted. It is now a major cause of death in the AIDS epidemic.


Rio Tinto executives admit taking bribes – Australian mining executive Stern Hu admitted to receiving bribes of up to 6 million yuan ($960,000) during a sensational opening day of the trial of four Rio Tinto executives in China yesterday – The Australian


People threaten habitat, ACF warns – A leading green group wants population growth to be declared an environmental threat under federal law. The Australian Conservation Foundation has nominated population to be included as a "key threatening process" to biodiversity under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act – The Australian

Mine 'is directly contaminating' town lands – The high levels of lead and other heavy metals in Queensland's Mount Isa come directly from activities at nearby Xstrata Mount Isa Mines, according to a new analysis – The Australian


Channel Ten tackles Channel Nine for NRL television rights – Channel 10 has entered a $1 billion bidding war with rival television networks Nine and Seven to broadcast rugby league from 2013. A high-powered executive from the Ten network recently met NRL boss David Gallop to privately launch the station's bid for the highest-rating sport on Australian television – Sydney Daily Telegraph



Qantas kept sick pilot in the sky – A mentally ill Qantas pilot was allowed to continue flying passenger jets for nearly three years despite repeatedly complaining of his urges to crash the planes he was flying – Sydney Morning Herald


Council boss feared wife having an affair – The general manager of Burwood Council used the services of a private investigation company - costing the council more than $44,000 - to get information on a man he thought was having an affair with his wife, the Independent Commission Against Corruption has heard – Sydney Morning Herald

Credit cards

Westpac double dips on credit card fees – Westpac customers are about to be slugged interest on their interest. The bank - which is already making about $18 million a day in profit - has written to hundreds of thousands of credit card holders that from June "interest will also apply to interest charges and fees on your credit-card account" – Sydney Daily Telegraph


Court extends definition of de facto couple – A couple who do not live together, or even see each other all that often, can still be considered to be in a de facto relationship, according to the NSW Supreme Court – The Australian


Teachers embarrassed, unprepared for taboo sex subject – Teachers are avoiding sex education because they're uncomfortable and under-prepared, prompting experts to call for better training at the university level. This follows a review of international guidelines on sex education by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, sparked by a backlash over recommendations that children as young as five were ready to learn about masturbation – Adelaide Advertiser

Real estate

Queensland property values soar despite global financial crisis – The value of Queensland homes has continued to rise despite the global financial crisis, according to almost one million land valuations released today. The figures, based on the value of unimproved land at October 1, 2009, show growth in residential valuations in a majority of Queensland local government areas, while many commercial and industrial valuations had fallen – Brisbane Courier Mail
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