Pacific tsunami hits Samoa islands, people killed – WASHINGTON/WELLINGTON (Reuters) – A powerful 8.0 magnitude earthquake generated Pacific tsunami on Wednesday, killing an unknown number of people in American and Western Samoa and sending others fleeing for higher ground, officials said. An official of the U.S. National Park Service said there had been deaths in American Samoa, but there was no word on how many. Similarly, a local police spokeswoman in nearby Western Samoa said the tsunami had killed an unknown number of people there.
THIS MORNING’S FRONT PAGES
POLITICS AND ECONOMICS
Brace for a housing price-rise flare up – Housing prices are ready to explode, as demand from potential home owners to buy into the property market outweighs the supply of new housing, prompting the Reserve Bank to increase pressure on state governments to cut the cost of developing land – The Australian
Family life suffers as house prices climb: study – The cost of avoiding the financial calamity that hit Britain and the US will be house prices even more out of reach of low and middle-income Australians, the Reserve Bank says. And, the central bank argues, state, local and federal governments will need to increase the pool of affordable accommodation to prevent house prices simply widening the gap between rich and poor, and locking buyers into a lifetime of paying down debts – Sydney Morning Herald
Reserve Bank warns on house prices – Australia could face a damaging resurgence of house price inflation as construction lags behind population growth and the economy recovers, the Reserve Bank has warned – Melbourne Age
Mystery firm helped save federal budget – A business forced to correct a hefty tax bill, better government earnings and fewer welfare handouts have helped Wayne Swan cut $5bn from his Budget deficit. With further “green shoots” in the economy, financial commentators yesterday predicted the Government’s net debt could be revised down to $100 billion in 2012/2013, from the $188 billion forecast in the May Budget – Brisbane Courier Mail
Economists fail to agree over crisis – Tim Colebatch reports in the Melbourne Age that a year into the worst global recession for 75 years, the Australian Conference of Economists has found no agreement on what caused it – or what we should learn from it. And that’s supposed to be news?
Swan slams pensioner rental rises – Treasurer Wayne Swan will try to strong-arm the states into a backdown over their controversial plan to charge pensioners in public housing an extra $7.50 a week from next year – Melbourne Age
Anger at Joyce’s refugee comments – Barnaby Joyce’s comments about asylum seekers at Christmas Island appearing to be economic migrants have angered human rights groups and the Greens. The Nationals senator had questioned the veracity of asylum seekers’ claims after witnessing their apparent happiness and health consciousness on a recent parliamentary visit – Melbourne Age
Welfare tough love works as quarantining parent payments cuts indigenous truancy – A report to be tabled today in Queensland parliament shows that school attendance in one of the nation’s most troubled Aboriginal communities, Aurukun, has almost doubled since the introduction last year of the Family Responsibilities Commission in four Cape York communities – The Australian
Tough luck for disadvantaged boarders at Sydney’s Biala Hostel – A Sydney hostel that has acted as a gateway for hundreds of Aboriginal girls from socially depressed regions to attend university is likely to be shut down – The Australian
Jakarta suicide bombers set sights on Australia – Two Indonesian suicide bombers were filmed discussing martyrdom and being instructed to target Australians, just weeks before they blew up two Jakarta hotels, killing seven people, including three Australians – The Australian
Jakarta suicide bombers set sights on Australia – The Australian
Michael McGurk tape full of wild claims – A parliamentary inquiry into land dealings surrounding the McGurk affair descended into a murder hunt yesterday, as details of the slain businessman’s mystery tape were finally revealed – Sydney Daily Telegraph
Developer Ron Medich screams blue murder – A wealthy Sydney property developer expressed outrage yesterday at being asked under oath whether he had had “any involvement” in the murder of a standover man who allegedly owed him millions of dollars – The Australian
The blame game
NSW passes the buck in $100b bill of health – As Australia’s annual health spending broke past $100 billion a year, the NSW Government put its hand out for more cash to prop up its public hospitals – even while cutting its own spending on them in real terms. New figures show the state gleaned an extra $400 million from the Federal Government last year but cut its share of public hospital spending by 2.7 percentage points to $5.4 billion – Sydney Morning Herald
Law and order
Pair linked to ports crime – A company executive who helps control a shipping container operation at one of Australia’s biggest ports is one of several figures linked to crime on the waterfront by federal authorities – Melbourne Age
Statewide 24-hour sex fiend watch – of child protection officers drawn from almost every government department will be rolled out across the state to keep a 24-hour watch over convicted paedophiles – Sydney Daily Telegraph
State tightens its grip on known child sex offenders – Headed by police, a trial program of monitoring known child sex offenders, under a child protection watch team, is to be extended across the state. It will have additional powers to monitor those causing concern to the public – Sydney Morning Herald
Roland Small accused of assaulting Federal MP Jodie Campbell admits breaching restraining order – Sydney Daily Telegraph
Freedom of information
Silence on red tape due to red tape – A freedom of information request for details of the Government’s efforts to cut red tape has been denied, because they remain subject to “cabinet in confidence provisions” before any public announcement – Sydney Morning Herald
States wary of ‘literary curriculum’ – The push for a greater focus on print literature in the national English curriculum is being resisted in some states, with submissions from education authorities arguing against a “strong emphasis on literature” – The Australian
Judges reject ‘old boy’ label – Former County Court judge John Dee, QC, yesterday criticised Attorney-General Rob Hulls for suggesting he was a private school old boy with outdated and sexist views. Mr Dee and fellow retired County Court judge John Barnett recently claimed Mr Hulls had made some undeserving and inappropriate appointments to the bench. They told the Herald Sun some current County Court judges selected by Mr Hulls and his Liberal predecessor, Jan Wade, didn’t have the background or skills to be judges and were appointed for political reasons – Melbourne Herald Sun
Jobless fall by the wayside in crusade to harness grey power – Ross Gittins in the Sydney Morning Herald argues that people on the age pension are nowhere near being the most vulnerable. That dubious honour goes to Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders. After them are the unemployed, sole parents, the disabled and carers of the disabled or frail aged. Only then come age pensioners – and even among them there are gradations. The great majority who own their own homes are comparatively well-off, those in public housing are next, leaving those in private rental the most needy among the elderly.
Parents understand education’s value – Tony Koch in The Australian on the origins of the Aboriginal education experiment in Cape York which seems to be working.
Better outcomes for war widows – Ian McPhedran in the Sydney Daily Telegraph gives some details of how support for war widows has actually improved significantly over the years.
Let’s stop the rot and make NSW No. 1 again – Stephen Cartwright, chief executive of the NSW Business Chamber, urges the troops to rally round the state flag.
Beware socialist snake-oil vendors – Janet lbrechtsen in The Australian warns that right across the spectrum of left-wing politics, from Michael Moore to Kevin Rudd, they are determined to build momentum for a new social democratic project.
G20 the world’s best hope – is the opinion of Paul Kelly in The Australian
Law and order
Brown promises action on anti-social behaviour – The beleaguered British Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, attempted to claw back the support of disillusioned working-class voters by pledging measures to rein in anti-social families, teenage drunkenness and problem children – Sydney Morning Herald
Roman Polanksi’s brilliance is no excuse for padeophilia – Renegade film director Roman Polanski has many supporters in not only arts communities but among politicians. They seem to think that his creative output, added to his misfortunes in life, innure him from serving time for paedophilia – writes Troy Lennon in the Sydney Daily Telegraph
Polanski has already paid for his crime – We should heed the victim when pursuing the famous director, writes Duncan Campbell in the Sydney Morning Herald
Afghanistan starting to look like Obama’s Vietnam – writes Geoffrey Garrett in the Sydney Morning Herald
Mining magnate Clive Palmer attacks ‘racist’ treatment of Chinese – The nation’s fifth-richest man, Clive Palmer, has denounced the federal government’s foreign investment rules as racist, claiming they are weighted against Chinese companies seeking to buy into Australian resource projects – The Australian
Investor veto power for fat cats’ salaries – Mum and dad investors will be given unprecedented powers to turf out company boards as part of a radical plan to curb massive fat-cat salaries. In a major threat to blue-chip corporations, every director would be forced to stand down if as few as 20 per cent of shareholders twice voted against executive salary packages – Sydney Daily Telegraph
Tsunami deaths in Samoa, NZ on alert after large quake – Brisbane Courier Mail
Coalition tries to silence climate rebels – The Opposition emissions trading spokesman, Ian Macfarlane, has tried to quell a rising internal revolt over climate change by emailing every backbencher with a copy of the policy the Coalition took to the last election – Sydney Morning Herald
Water quality fears for Yarra – People have been warned to be careful using the Yarra River amid fears of severe contamination after heavy rainfall – Melbourne Herald Sun
Ethanol blend cuts out unleaded – Motorists are denied access to ordinary unleaded petrol at almost 200 service stations across the state, with the major petrol companies offering ethanol-blended E10 or more expensive premium unleaded only – Sydney Daily Telegraph
Howls of protest as Hopetoun shuts – One of the venue’s owners, Evangelos Patakas, yesterday blamed an accumulation of fines from police and onerous directives from the council to upgrade the notoriously grungy building for the closure, but said it would reopen next year – Sydney Morning Herald
Shake the culinary cringe, says food festival director – Sydney should hold its head up high as a world-class food city, even if some vestiges of the old culinary cringe remain, says the director of the Sydney International Food Festival, Joanna Savill – Sydney Morning Herald
Balcony ban threat to spoil party for schoolies – Schoolies face being banned from balconies at some Gold Coast apartments this year in a fresh crackdown on drunken and loutish behaviour – Brisbane Courier Mail
Light goes out on tanning salons – A new audit of the industry has revealed a dramatic decrease in the number of solariums in Australian capital cities, dropping from 406 to 278, or almost a third, since 2006. In Melbourne, the number fell from 169 to 82 – a drop of 51 per cent – Melbourne Age
Superannuation funds surge 10 per cent in three months – Super funds have surged 10 per cent – adding almost $7000 to the accounts of average Australians – as the nation climbs out of the global financial crisis. The turnaround is due to a bolting sharemarket, which today will close its best quarter since the Eels were last premiers in the 1980s – Sydney Daily Telegraph