Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Media wrap - Rudd declared the winner of health debate but does it really matter?


The debate

Rudd skates home with sweet reason – Kevin Rudd won the Great Health Debate with a reminder that he is a smooth, persuasive and formidable Prime Minister who skates over his weaknesses and projects as a constructive leader – Paul Kelly in The Australian

Round One, Kevin Rudd. Bring on Round Two. The Prime Minister will head into this year's election campaign with renewed confidence after the first of three head-to-head policy debates – Adelaide Advertiser

Yawning policy gap lets leader down – Tony Abbott had the equivalent of one foot in a plaster cast in yesterday's health debate, which he lost. It is all very well to poke holes in the Rudd hospital reform plan. But if you cannot say - at least in broad terms - how it should be different, your argument falls in a heap – Michelle Grattan in the Melbourne Age

Rudd gives Abbott a lesson in wormology – Tony Abbott was the leader that both worms spurned writes Lenore Taylor in the Sydney Morning Herald

The Great Debate was anything but – Piers Akerman in the Sydney Daily Telegraph writes that superficially, it would be easy to say the worms produced by the 9 and 7 networks probably reflected the popular view that Rudd was the more acceptable face on the television screen. The debate did not provide enough policy detail for a meaningful comparison of health policies to be made but it did leave a question hanging that should be answered before any further debates are staged. The question is for the networks, as their presentation of these events will affect the voters:  Who turns the worm?

Australia sick of all talk and no action on hospitals – It wasn’t a health debate. It was a political ambush, and it worked. Opposition Leader Tony Abbott walked into the trap without the protection of a policy, and was forced to rely on his undoubted abilities to attack and unsettle. However, that made him appear negative and even possibly dismissive of the health issue as he attempted to steer the debate on to economic management and the home insulation debacle. Most Australians believe the public health system is wrecked and they want solutions - from anyone – Malcolm Farr in the Sydney Daily Telegraph

Nothing arouses like motherhood – Samantha Maiden writes in The Australian that it’s official: the worm hates Tony Abbott. But it finds every homespun, focus-tested motherhood statement Kevin Rudd utters strangely arousing.

All the better for broken rules – Chris Uhlmann injected himself, fairly and with balance, challenging Mr Rudd and the Opposition Leader to fully answer points they appeared to avoid – Dennis Shanahan in The Australian

Rudd's easier for Abbott to knock out than Gillard – Health sideshows aside, it must be galling for the Prime Minister writers Janet Albrechtsen in The Australian. Leadership talk is deep within Labor ranks. The Labor Party appears to have already moved on from Rudd to Gillard. And this is why the 2010 election is Tony Abbott's best shot at taking the Lodge.

Gloves come off in tussle after health debate – Tony Abbott has declared Kevin Rudd is a lying bully who is unfit for office after the pair used their one-on-one debate about the health system to savagely assault each other's integrity and competence. The Prime Minister accused the Opposition Leader of seeking to ride "a rolling tidal wave of negativity" into office, rather than developing policies to tackle the growing pressure on the nation's health system – The Australian

Rudd steps out on a limb - and stays balanced – Mark Kenny gives his verdict in the Adelaide Advertiser: What Mr Rudd wanted to do was coax his new opponent into the trap of being negative so that voters would have a clear choice - a PM with a plan and an Opposition without one. And he wanted Mr Abbott to in effect, be himself, calculating that partially engaged voters would simply view his aggression as more of the same from those damned politicians. It was actually a clever move from the PM suggesting he is every bit as wily as the man he replaced, John Howard.

First blow landed by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd in health debate with Tony Abbott - In a health policy contest otherwise devoid of new detail, Mr Rudd moved to counter fears his public hospitals plan would lead to rocketing costs and closures in rural and regional areas. Most commentators awarded victory to Mr Rudd, largely because he had a health policy to hawk while Mr Abbott had none – Melbourne Herald Sun

State Health Minister Daniel Andrews calls for money – Kevin Rudd's performance was cautiously welcomed by the Brumby Government as a step in the right direction. But Health Minister Daniel Andrews remains critical of the Federal Government's plans as its funding of Victorian hospitals has declined for more than a decade – Melbourne Herald Sun

Kevin Rudd rescues small-town medicine – Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has performed the first backflip of his $50 billion national health reform, conceding he may have to change it to save small and rural hospitals – Sydney Daily Telegraph

Debate entangles Abbott – Shaun Carney concludes in the Melbourne Age that the probable shortcomings of the opposition's political approach in this election year were on display. They are threefold: that Abbott is overly reliant on Rudd to make mistakes; that he misinterprets the public's lack of affection for Rudd as a sign that they have no faith in the PM to do the job; and that his incompetence argument against Labor is more suited to a tired government in its third or fourth term rather than an administration in its first term, when there is still some residual public goodwill despite its failings


Kerryn Phelps out of Wentworth race – Labor will unveil a high-profile candidate in Malcolm Turnbull's eastern Sydney seat of Wentworth, but it won't be former Australian Medical Association chief Kerryn Phelps – The Australian

Labor rejects move to soften image – Labor has rejected moves for significant renewal and a changed image, rejecting Environment Minister Jay Weatherill's bid to bring a new face to the party's leadership – Adelaide Advertiser

Bartlett pledge shaky – Premier David Bartlett's pledge to hand power to the Liberals if they win the same number of seats as Labor appears fragile – Hobart Mercury


Asylum spike bucks world trend: UN report – The number of refugees seeking asylum in Australia jumped by almost 30 per cent last year despite global numbers remaining steady, challenging Kevin Rudd's claim that instability abroad is behind the surge in refugee boats – The Australian

Stimulus programs

Claim for $12m over bungled energy scheme – Contractors in the $175 million green loans program are demanding more than $12m in taxpayer-funded compensation for lost work, as the Rudd government yesterday refused to quantify how many Australian households missed out on the scheme because of bureaucratic bungling – The Australian

Fund raising

Big money for the ear of minister – Companies hoping to profit from a range of lucrative government transport projects are likely to be among those willing to spend $1500 each to attend an intimate lunch with Victorian Public Transport Minister Martin Pakula next month. Premier John Brumby last week hosted a $1000-a-head lunch at Sydney's InterContinental, to bring in cash for the ALP's fund-raising arm, Progressive Business. Mr Pakula will now host a small lunch for Progressive Business, at Melbourne's InterContinental on Tuesday, April 6 – Melbourne Age


Conroy's filter plan unworkable, says Google Australia – Fresh from halting censorship of search results in China, internet giant Google says Australia's mandatory ISP filter is both unworkable and unwanted by parents – The Australian


Justin Madden allowed 'Labor mate' to oversee Windsor approval process – Justin Madden approved a senior Labor figure for the job of overseeing an audit of the planning process that approved the Windsor Hotel redevelopment. Graeme Holdsworth, who's worked for federal Finance Minister Lindsay Tanner and state Housing Minister Richard Wynne, was appointed to a planning advisory committee in December. The committee was set up after a leaked email from the Planning Minister's then media adviser suggested a fake public consultation in a pre-election strategy to bury the project – Melbourne Herald Sun

Designing urban western Sydney - Councils covering the Hawkesbury to Liverpool and Auburn to the Blue Mountains have devised an interactive campaign that lets the public tell governments how they want the region to evolve - and sets a benchmark for measuring proposals from Macquarie St and CanberraSydney Daily Telegraph

Fears planning list will sideline residents – Residents and councils fear being sidelined from big neighbourhood planning decisions because of the establishment of a ''major cases'' list at Victoria's planning tribunal – Melbourne Age

Political life

Billionaire Gina Rinehart puts Premier Anna Bligh on hold - Gina Rinehart yesterday left no one in doubt exactly who was in charge at the opening of her company's Queensland headquarters – and it wasn't the politician cutting the ribbon – Brisbane Courier Mail


Brumby plan to tackle skills shortage 'backfires' – Premier John Brumby's grand plan to combat the skills crisis by getting more people to obtain higher TAFE qualifications has been dealt a blow, with several institutes reporting a slump in enrolments and some students not applying because of higher government fees – Melbourne Age


Lessons for Labor in Rann reprieve – Two dramatic messages have been sent to Kevin Rudd (and other Labor leaders) from the South Australian election result. Both can help Labor recover from its present slump. One is a timely warning about government spin and the other is a message of practical hope in marginal seat campaigning – The Australian

Labor part of the Green scene – Former Labor Senator Terry Aulich writes in The Mercury that the Greens are now a permanent feature of Tasmanian politics, and major party leaders David Bartlett and Will Hodgman should recognise that fact – Hobart Mercury

Integrity flourishes in openness – Ross Gittins in the Sydney Morning Herald reviews the book The Economics of Integrity, by the New York journalist Anna Bernasek

Abbott was the north wind and Rudd was the sun – Peter Hartcher in the Sydney Morning Herald calls on an Aesop’s fable to make his point that while the appearance of positivity on the day worked for Rudd the sun king, the longer campaign might not. As Abbott and Barnaby Joyce proved in destroying Rudd's emissions trading scheme, over the longer run it is easier to run a negative campaign than a positive one.


Secret Rio Tinto probe cleared company but left Stern Hu in doubt – Almost  the first thing Rio Tinto did in the wake of Stern Hu's arrest on July 5 last year was to isolate a small team of specialist executives to manage the dangerous personal and commercial fallout of a situation that marked a complete breakdown of the mining giant's relationship with China – The Australian

Bribe executives face sack if found guilty – Rio Tinto executive Stern Hu has been paid by the mining giant while awaiting trial in China on bribery charges for the past eight months but is likely to be immediately dismissed if found guilty – The Australian

High-ranking billionaire linked to Rio bribe case – Not all of Rio Tinto's iron ore sales in China were managed through Stern Hu. The ore from one Pilbara operation, Robe River, was channelled through a separate sales team that included Wang Yong, who has been accused of accepting US$9 million ($9.8 million) in bribes - 10 times what Mr Hu allegedly received. And the source of these millions - one of China's well-connected billionaires -may hint at why Chinese authorities have gone to such lengths to shroud Mr Hu's case in secrecy – Sydney Morning Herald

Westpac makes extra $1.1 million from raising rates by more than RBA – Westpac has gouged an extra $1.1 million a day in home-loan interest revenue since its controversial decision to boost mortgage rates by more than the Reserve Bank rise last December – Melbourne Herald Sun


Japanese probe woodchips – Four of Japan's largest paper manufacturing companies are in Hobart for two days to assess woodchips. They want to know if the native woodchips they buy from Tasmania meet appropriate environmental standards – Hobart Mercury


The punt

Probe on Shane Warne-linked bet site – An online betting agency endorsed by former champion cricketer Shane Warne is under investigation by Australia's communications watchdog.
A spokesman for the Australian Communications and Media Authority confirmed to The Australian yesterday it had received a complaint that the betting site 888sport was in breach of the Integrated Gambling Act – The Australian


Mitcham restrains cat numbers – Mitcham Council has formally endorsed a controversial cat-control bylaw which restricts the number of cats per household. In addition to the two-cat restriction, Mitcham cat owners will be required to register and microchip the animals. Cat owners are permitted to own more than two cats if they can convince the council they are not impacting negatively on the community and they are properly cared for – Adelaide Advertiser


We're being mugged by banks over credit cardsAustralia you are being ripped off. These are the findings of new research into how our credit cards would stack up against new rules being introduced in Britain. The research has emerged amid a furore over Westpac's decision to charge interest on credit card interest and fees – Sydney Daily Telegraph

Credit union cuts rates, gives banks run for their money – One of Australia's biggest credit unions, CUA, has ratcheted up pressure on the major banks by cutting its variable mortgage interest rate by 25 basis points – Sydney Morning Herald


Sexual misconduct by Queensland teachers exposed – More than 300 Queensland teachers are under investigation for inappropriate behaviour as new details emerge of deplorable acts in schools.
Documents obtained by The Brisbane Courier-Mail under Right to Information laws reveal almost all 26 teachers who had their registrations suspended or cancelled in the past year were cited for sexual misconduct.

Not cricket

Did NZ cricket snub John Howard? - Cricket Australia boss James Sutherland proposed Mr Howard as a special guest at Wellington's Basin Reserve so he could make his first appearance at a match since his controversial nomination as vice-president of the International Cricket Council. New Zealand Cricket boss Justin Vaughan replied that Mr Howard's visit would be pointless in an official capacity because the NZC board could not be convened to meet him – Melbourne Age
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