Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Media wrap - Women's groups delighted while business groups are dismayed

POLITICS AND ECONOMICS

Parental leave

Tony Abbott eyes working families with paid parental leave – Tony  Abbott has thrown his first major policy punch of the election year, proposing a $2.7 billion tax on big companies to fund a universal paid parental leave scheme. The Opposition Leader has also sharpened his pitch to high-income earners by vowing he would scrap Labor's $150,000- a-year income limit on the $5185 Baby Bonus – The Australian

Taxpayer 'to be left holding the baby' – Taxpayers could be forced to foot the bill for Tony Abbott's proposed parental leave scheme, business groups warned yesterday. The union movement dismissed the $2.7 billion package as a smokescreen for the reintroduction of the Howard government's industrial relations laws – The Australian

Big business protests $2.7bn Tony Abbott plan on maternity leave – Working mums would get six months' maternity leave at full pay under a $2.7 billion election promise made by Tony Abbott. But the biggest 3200 companies would be hit by a new tax to pay for the Opposition Leader's pitch to families – Melbourne Herald Sun

Abbott to raise taxes for baby payThe West Australian

Abbott plans big new tax on business – Big business has universally condemned a plan by Tony Abbott to hit the top 3200 companies with a $2.7 billion tax rise to fund a national system of six months' paid parental leave – Sydney Morning Herald

Abbott's baby plan under fire – The business community has rounded on Opposition Leader Tony Abbott after he unveiled an ambitious scheme to pay parents up to $75,000 to stay at home for the first six months of a baby's life – Melbourne Age

Elections

Mike Rann on knife-edge as Liberals draw level with Labor - Liberals have drawn level with Labor in South Australia, 10 days before the state election, as Mike Rann's popularity plummets along with the ALP's primary vote – The Australian

Isobel express steaming on – This is a bad poll for Labor and an even worse one for Mike Rann, who is clearly on the nose with voters – The Australian

Libs slam oval project as a con – The  South Australian opposition has hit back at government attacks on its financial credibility, claiming to have discovered a blowout of about $100 million in Labor's plan to redevelop Adelaide Oval into a 50,000-seat stadium – The Australian

New $109m vow to cut waiting times – A $109 million Labor election pledge to employ more than 100 new medical staff will cut emergency department waiting times to a maximum of four hours. Premier Mike Rann will today unveil the Four Hour Strategy for metropolitan hospitals in one of Labor's most expensive pledges – Adelaide Advertiser

Premier seeks life bans for hoon drivers – Drivers who repeatedly drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol could lose their licences for life if the Rann government is returned to office – The Australian

Neal defiant to the end as she focuses on priorities – A disappointed Belinda Neal says she has no intention of taking her foot off the pedal and will see out her political career serving constituents in her seat of Robertson – Sydney Morning Herald

Greens voting bid for killers in Tasmanian election – Mass murderer Martin Bryant would be given the right to vote in state and federal elections under a policy that the Greens are taking to the Tasmanian state election on March 20 – Melbourne Herald Sun

Private hospital buy back plan – Labor has made health a key in its re-election campaign with a multi-million-dollar plan to buy back the Hobart Private Hospital. Premier David Bartlett made the announcement to rapturous applause from the "true believers" at the party's official campaign launch yesterday – Hobart Mercury

Liberals focus on NE roads – Road funding would be the big winner for the North-East with the Liberals announcing their package for the region yesterday – Hobart Mercury

Hospital plan smart politics - Yesterday, finally, the election campaign gained some welcome momentum with the Labor Party's official election launch and its accompanying massive Royal Hobart Hospital spending push. The three-pronged commitment to buy back the Hobart Private Hospital, build a $200 million new intensive care and surgery recovery wing on its site and construct a dedicated new $180 million women's and children's hospital wing (the Queen Alexandra) is smart politics – Sue Neales in the Hobart Mercury

Health and hospitals

Show us the money, Victoria tells Rudd – Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's contentious plan to overhaul Australia's health system will lack credibility unless he injects billions of extra dollars into public hospitals, the Victorian government says. As the war of words between Mr Rudd and the states worsened yesterday, Victorian Health Minister Daniel Andrews said: ''The Prime Minister needs to put his money where his mouth is. Words won't cut waiting lists, only extra money will do that.'' – Melbourne Age

Tasmanian Premier laps up PM's fix - State Labor had been kicking around ideas for a hospital policy for months. Having scrapped plans to build a new greenfield hospital to replace the ageing Royal Hobart, Labor needed an alternative. The question was how to fund it. The Prime Minister's call provided the answer, particularly the bit about federal funding of 60 per cent of hospital capital works – The Australian

Here's to our very good health, from a bloke with a bit of a ticker – Phillip Hudson of the Melbourne Herald Sun chats with the PM about his personal health and the health of the hospital system.

Foreign affairs

Anti-government rallies scupper Thai PM's visit - The Thai Prime Minister, Abhisit Vejjajiva, has postponed an official visit to Australia and New Zealand because of rising political tensions and the prospect of mass anti-government rallies – Sydney Morning Herald

Immigration

Councils put foreign workers on standby - Local government has "pre-interviewed" hundreds of foreign workers who could move to Perth to fill any vacancies in the accelerating mining boom – The West Australian

Industrial relations

Brumby stalls on equal pay case – The Brumby government is refusing to say if it will back a significant women's pay case, despite the Rudd government publicly throwing its support behind it more than four months ago – Melbourne Age

Defence

The wrong stuff – Defence extravagance – The Department of Defence is spending millions of dollars on luxury items that appear to bear no relevance to its sworn role to defend the nation – Sydney Morning Herald

Rift with US over curbs on diggersAustralia’s restrictions on the deployment of its troops in Afghanistan have sparked a serious rift between military leaders in Washington and Canberra, and are likely to be a key issue during President Barack Obama's visit later this month – Melbourne Age

Death penalty

Bali nine: 'PM could help' – The father of Bali nine death-row inmate Scott Rush has expressed cautious optimism that his son's case will be raised by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd in discussions with the man who may ultimately decide his fate – Melbourne Age

Opinions

Tony keeping mum on his big new tax - After telling the "housewives of Australia" they should worry about the impact of an emissions trading scheme on the cost of ironing, the Liberal leader is proposing a big new tax on business to fund paid maternity leave for everyone – Samantha Maiden in The Australian

Union campaign should not derail coalition – Malcolm Colless in The Australian believes the ACTU’s emotive media campaign launched this month to attack the growing popularity of Opposition Leader Tony Abbott over Work Choices is a smokescreen to cover mounting policy incompetence by the Rudd government.

Tony Abbott proves he really has people skills - Gerard Henderson writes in the Sydney Morning Herald that Rudd Labor is favourite to win the coming election. But the Coalition, under Abbott's leadership, is competitive.

A friendship forged through adversity and shared destiny - Our relationship with Indonesia is thriving, write Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Kevin Rudd in the Sydney Morning Herald

Lessons of success from societies' oppressed minorities – Tim Colebatch in the Melbourne Age compares the Chinese success as capitalists in Indonesia with the role of Jews in Europe

Reversing the global retreat – Bruce Grant in the Sydney Morning Herald writes that Indonesian leader Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono arrives in Australia today and will address Parliament tomorrow; US President Barack Obama will visit later in the month. The visits provide an opportunity to revive the so-called "international community" that seems to have been exhausted by the twin crises of global warming and debt.

Indonesia defied doomsayers to become a surprise success story – writes Peter Hartcher in the Sydney Morning Herald

Abbott lets fly from left field ... and gets caught out - Abbott is driven by wanting to trump Labor in an area that is a hot button for those electorally important ''working families'' and younger women, writes Michelle Grattan in the Melbourne Age. But in attempting to do so he is acting counter-intuitively for a Liberal leader - arguing the case for more tax. This will reinforce fears Abbott is flaky, when he needs to lay such fears to rest.

BUSINESS

Super investor sues S&P over bond rating – The credibility of the ratings agency Standard & Poor's has come under legal attack in a $40 million action by a local government superannuation investor over a triple-A rated debt investment that subsequently turned toxic in the global financial crisis – Sydney Morning Herald

Global giants target coal seam gas producer Arrow Energy – Oil  giant PetroChina has teamed up with Royal Dutch Shell for a $3.3 billion tilt at coal seam gas producer Arrow Energy that would give China a firm footing in Gladstone's burgeoning liquefied natural gas industry – The Australian

Centrebet considers takeover proposalsSydney Morning Herald

ENVIRONMENT

Bligh hopes to delay SE Queensland desal plant – Water restrictions in southeast Queensland are set to remain in place long-term as the Bligh government tries to delay the construction of new desalination plants and encourage homeowners to remain conservative – The Australian

Ozone levels to worsen over next 15 yearsSydney’s air quality is only going to get worse, with a state government report signalling that residents will suffer from rising levels of ozone, a primary cause of respiratory diseases such as asthma – Sydney Morning Herald

MEDIA

Belinda Neal calls police over clash – Police have been called to the home of federal MP Belinda Neal and her partner, former health minister John Della Bosca, after an alleged confrontation on Sunday with a TV cameraman outside their house – Sydney Daily Telegraph

LIFE

Aboriginal affairs

Witness changes story: I could see Mulrunji Doomadgee's 'scuffle' - Roy Bramwell, who was in the Palm Island cell block at the time Doomadgee was brought in, said yesterday he clearly saw the arresting policeman put his knee on the prostrate Aborigine's chest and punch him. He said he had had initially given a different account of what happened - including the claim that Senior Sergeant Chris Hurley repeatedly punched Doomadgee - because he felt intimidated by the other Queensland police called in to investigate the 2004 death in custody – The Australian

Students punished over racist comments on net – The King's School in Parramatta is punishing a group of its students for their involvement in posting racist comments about Aborigines on a website – Sydney Morning Herald

Food safety

Backflip over mad cow beef ban - The importation of beef from countries that have had outbreaks of mad cow disease will be delayed by at least two years following a backdown by the Rudd government – The Australian

Home owners

Home owner responsible for death on his property – A home owner has been ordered to pay $70,000 in compensation to the widow of an electrician who died after working in his roof. The decision, handed down in the District Court would surprise many property owners ignorant of their responsibilities, a legal expert has told the Sydney Morning Herald

The drink

Premier bans booze breaks after RTA promotion - NSW Premier, Kristina Keneally, has banned alcohol at all RTA promotions, admitting that alcohol supplied at a young driver safety event this year sent a ''very confusing message'' – Sydney Morning Herald

Drink drama to steel Brumby resolve – It was hardly every parent's worst nightmare, but for a premier - especially one campaigning against drunken violence - it was very unwelcome news. John Brumby learnt over the long weekend that his younger daughter's boyfriend had been arrested after an apparently drunken escapade at Crown casino. As rumours about the incident circulated yesterday, the Premier's office was forced to issue a statement reaffirming that he ''does not tolerate alcohol-related violence'' – Melbourne Age

Tourism

US kicks off tourist drive with entry fee – Australians travelling to the US will be asked to pay a $US10 ($11) fee to help fund a program to boost tourism - as well as the ailing US economy – Sydney Morning Herald

Gays

Tony Abbott puts gay views in order – Tony Abbott has defended himself about feeling "threatened" by homosexuality, saying gay people challenged "the right order of things". As the gay and lesbian community lashed his views as "dangerous" and a sign the potential prime minister was living in a 1950s world, the Federal Opposition leader said his earlier comment had been spontaneous – Melbourne Herald Sun

Bullying

Protect your kids - become cyber cops – Schools are calling on parents to become cyber cops to help manage a disturbing rise in online bullying. School counsellors are spending the beginning of each school week "cleaning up the carnage" of cyberbullying generated on Facebook and by text messages each weekend, experts say – Adelaide Advertiser

Connections

Free wi-fi internet proposal for CBD – Free wi-fi internet access would be offered in all major business areas and public spaces in Adelaide's CBD under an Australian-first plan being considered by the City Council – Adelaide Advertiser

Cemeteries

Muslims hit a dead endSydney’s Islamic community is so desperate for burial plots it is applying to suburban councils to build Muslim-only cemeteries in both rural and residential areas – Sydney Daily Telegraph
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