THE BEST OF THIS MORNING’S STORIES

090704smhParents to count cost of better child care Sydney Morning Herald

Chinese billionaire funding our MPs – Deborah Snow, Nic Christensen and John Garnaut write in the Sydney Morning Herald

POLITICS AND ECONOMICS

Australia

Political funding

Chinese billionaire funding our MPs – Deborah Snow, Nic Christensen and John Garnaut write in the Sydney Morning Herald about a little-known Australian-Chinese property billionaire who has emerged as the largest offshore benefactor of Australia’s political parties. Chau Chak Wing has poured more than $2 million into the coffers of the Liberal, National and Labor parties in the past decade.

Behind the mysterious Dr Chau – He’s been an intimate of our political and corporate leadership for years. Now the public gets a look at Australia’s biggest overseas-based political donor. John Garnaut, Deborah Snow and Nic Christensen report in the Sydney Morning Herald

Chinese money trail unravels The Sydney Morning Herald on other political donations from Chinese to Australian political parties.

Economic matters

090704ageeconomy

Economy beats the odds – A survey of business economists by Peter Martin of the Melbourne Age suggests Australia is on track to defy the world and avoid a recession in 2009, beginning a recovery early next year.

Aboriginal affairs

090704australian

Roadblock on remote housing as progress stalls on indigenous responseThe Australian

Elections and By-elections

Costello to endorse Liberal activist as Higgins candidateMelbourne Age

Public service

Snubbed diplomat rejects new role – Hugh Borrowman – the senior diplomat Prime Minister Kevin Rudd barred from a top posting to Germany – has now been forced to drop his concession prize of the ambassador’s role in Sweden – Melbourne Age

Ute gate

Ute was not a breach of gift rules, says RuddThe Australian

Utegate timing off and muffler shot for Kevin Rudd – Steve Lewis in the Daily Telegraph tries to explain how he came to use that bogus email.

Industrial relations

New law to cover foreign ships in victory for Maritime Workers UnionThe Australian

Leadership

Leader likely to hold on in SA spillThe Australian

Boat people

Tamils’ transit to Australia, ‘land of freedom’ Sydney Morning Herald

Political life

Fred Nile felt forced to support new bill on league tablesSydney Daily Telegraph

Struggling Labor rorts train funds – Sydney Daily Telegraph

MPs thumb noses at ethics, says Gary Crooke, QC – Brisbane Courier Mail

Julia Gillard defends Kevin Rudd’s choice of interview – Brisbane Courier Mail

Opinions

Lessons from OzCar for everyone from PM to Senate dunce – says Peter Hartcher in the Sydney Morning Herald

Lib think tank running on empty – Annabel Crabb in the Sydney Morning Herald gives some high praise to backbencher Brett Mason

Turnbull may be beyond repair The Australian

Guess who’s the king of comedy? – Laurie Oakes in the Melbourne Herald Sun gives the title to Kevin Rudd

The racket no one dares name – Hamish McDonald in the Sydney Morning Herald takes a look at the education export business

Earning our keep – Shaun Carney in the Melbourne Age writes that the next challenge for the Federal Government, now that WorkChoices is officially dead, is to tackle Australia’s chronic skills shortage.

Indigenous policy on trial – writes Paul Kelly in The Australian

A solution that is clear, simple and right – Ross Gittins in the Sydney Morning Herald gives a lesson in economics

Elsewhere

090704australianmagazineUSA

The Barack factor – Geoff Elliott looks at Obama’s Washington – The Weekend Australian Magazine

Sarah Palin resigns as Alaska governor – Frees up time to build political team to run for presidency – News.com.au website

U.S. Shifts Strategy on Illicit Work by Immigrants – New York Times

California sends out IOUs – Deep in debt and short on cash, California on Thursday churned out its first batch of IOUs in nearly two decades amid grumbles from bankers, growing public outrage and scant progress in negotiations to resolve the state’s widening budget deficit – Los Angeles Times

Economic matters

India’s Tendulkar Says Govt Should Diversify Forex ReservesBloomberg quotes Indian PM’s economic adviser on his country’s need to diversify its foreign exchange reserves and hold fewer dollars

Iran

US marines face a ‘hell of a fight’ in Helmand surge – United States Marines storming into southern Afghanistan are facing a “hell of a fight” in some districts while others are “suspiciously” quiet, their commander has said – London Daily Telegraph

Iran says British embassy officials will stand trial London Times

War on terror

Evidence ‘not enough’ as terror suspect scores winLondon Times reports a judge’s ruling that a suspect should be allowed to return to London as the Home Office had refused to provide enough information for him to instruct lawyers to challenge his exile to the Midlands.

BUSINESS

Bug leaves NetBank customers in the darkSydney Morning Herald

Mr 10 per cent – The top dog in the taxi business is under fire, writes Elisabeth Sexton in the Sydney Morning Herald

ENVIRONMENT

090704sanremoFarewell paradiseMelbourne Age

Alarm over auction of artesian basin water – Sydney Morning Herald

Paper plan threatens orang-utan survival – Sydney Morning Herald reports that endangered orang-utans being raised in Australian zoos for return to Indonesia are about to have their rainforests razed to supply the global market for toilet and photocopy paper.

MEDIA

Why Mark Ferguson is defecting from Nine to SevenSydney Daily Telegraph

Racist Australia’ was grist for India’s media mill – reports Matt Wade from New Delhi for the Sydney Morning Herald

Trinity Mirror to close nine Midlands newspapers – the newspaper group that owns the london Daily Mirror, has announced plans to close nine local newspapers in the Midlands – Financial Times of London

LIFE

Child Care

Parents to count cost of better child care Sydney Morning Herald

Women stretched to snapping point – The Howard government’s family policies left a legacy of stressed, overworked parents and set gender equity back a decade, a new study shows – Sydney Morning Herald

Music

090704duckworthlewis‘The Duckworth Lewis Method’: will cricket songs be a big hit? Two Irishmen have written a pop album about the most English of games – London Daily Telegraph
Note: You can listen to some tracks at http://www.myspace.com/dlmethod

The drink

North Korea launches beer advert – North Korea’s latest launch is not missiles, but a TV advertising campaign for a locally-brewed beer. In a rare nod to commercial motives in the resolutely communist nation, the TV advert features a thirsty worker holding a mug of frothy beer.Are they filling the space left by the marketing change at VB’s hard earned thirst? – BBC News

Religion

Opus Dei: Separating fact from fiction – Christopher Landau, BBC Religious Affairs Correspondent, was given a rare chance to see the wide variety of initiatives Opus Dei undertake in Rome – BBC News

Sporting life

Italian connection comes under scrutinySydney Morning Herald tells of Eels chairman’s links to failed property deals, money launderer and a crime boss.

NRL probes under-the-table payments to Parramatta players – Sydney Morning Herald

Swine flu

Swine flu cases rise to 1157 in NSWSydney Morning Herald

Flying

Airfare bonanza takes off, plane tickets a bargain Sydney Daily Telegraph