THE FRONT PAGES
POLITICS AND ECONOMICS
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Asylum seekers stage snap hunger strike – Sri Lankan asylum seekers, thwarted from reaching Australia, called a snap hunger strike late yesterday, erecting banners on the boat they have refused to leave for five days, proclaiming the action was for “international community help” – Sydney Morning Herald
Rudd takes a hard line – Indonesia has demanded more money from Australia and other nations to help stem the flow of asylum seekers reaching Australian shores – Sydney Morning Herald
Hardline faction peddles fear and punitive policies for asylum seekers – Zhi Yan writes in the Sydney Morning Herald that fear tactics reminiscent of the Howard and Ruddock years are emerging in the debate on asylum seekers. A hardline faction within the shadow cabinet is pushing the line that Australia is being ”swamped” by asylum seekers as a result of the Government’s reforms to asylum policy.
Parties vie for tough asylum-seeker talk title – The Australian
Not sorry: PM unmoved by pleas – Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has brushed off emotional appeals from Tamils aboard the boat he had the Indonesians intercept, and whose fate is at the centre of a political row over asylum seekers – Melbourne Age
AFP rushed to asylum seeker frontline – Australia will send police and hi-tech gear into several Asian hot-spots in a frantic bid to stem the flow of asylum seekers. Taxpayers are also likely to stump up millions of dollars in extra assistance for border protection as the Rudd Government tries to deal with the growing political storm – Sydney Daily Telegraph
Aid given to Sri Lanka to stem people smuggling – Australia is preparing to provide police assistance to Sri Lanka to help combat people smuggling, including training for local officers. The Government is also paying Indonesia to hold more asylum seekers in Indonesia – Sydney Morning Herald
We’re slow to aid the world’s hungry: study – Just 10 days after the United Nations declared Australia to have the second-best quality of life in the world, a less flattering study has found it slow to share its wealth with a world in which more than a billion people go hungry. The international group ActionAid will release a scorecard today on which Australia is ranked 17th out of the world’s 22 most developed countries in terms of their aid – Sydney Morning Herald
Aussie dollar heads for parity – The Australian dollar appears headed towards parity with the US dollar after Reserve Bank governor Glenn Stevens agreed the economy’s strength could drive it “way up” to $US1.10 – The Australian
PM keeps spending as Reserve lifts rates – Kevin Rudd last night defended the need to keep spending to stimulate the economy, but has flagged possible spending cuts elsewhere as the Reserve Bank gave notice a quick succession of interest rate rises was likely – Sydney Morning Herald
Seven rate rises in a row tipped – A declaration by Reserve Bank chief Glenn Stevens that the bank would not be ”timid” about raising interest rates has led financial markets to tip seven interest rate rises in a row, while the dollar has surged to 92.23 US cents – Melbourne Age
Expect interest rates to rise 1 per cent – Sydney Daily Telegraph
Root-and-branch review, but no big tax changes likely – Ken Henry’s tax review is unlikely to recommend drastic reforms to the tax system, amid concerns any major change would not be worth the cost – Sydney Morning Herald
Call for tax to ease road congestion – The Henry review of Australia’s tax system is likely to propose a radical reform of road taxes to shift from taxing petrol and car registration to charging for access to congested roads, Treasury secretary Ken Henry has revealed – Melbourne Age
Driving in peak hour or on busy roads to cost more – Queensland motorists will be forced to pay to drive on congested roads under a controversial proposal by Australia’s Treasury boss, Ken Henry – Brisbane Courier Mail
Rann assault not affecting vote – Almost nine in 10 voters say the circumstances surrounding the recent assault on Premier Mike Rann will not cause them to change their vote. An Advertiser poll also shows Labor’s primary vote has risen since the attack, along with Mr Rann’s personal approval rating which – in a major blow for the Liberals – is now higher in the country than in the city – Adelaide Advertiser
Labor may end union funding – Labor is willing to sever its financial ties with the union movement as part of its push for substantial reform of campaign finances, including the abolition of corporate donations – Sydney Morning Herald
Australian and Chinese military chiefs admit to ‘issues’ – Top Chinese and Australian military commanders have acknowledged “a few difficulties” in the bilateral relationship during annual talks involving the visiting head of the three-million strong People’s Liberation Army – The Australian
Bligh Government under attack from ombudsman – Queensland’s public service watchdog has joined a growing list of independent figures attacking the Bligh Government’s accountability – Brisbane Courier Mail
Diagnosis positive for public hospitals, report shows – Public hospitals are faring relatively well in terms of costs and patient pressures, a Productivity Commission report has found, in contrast to the ”bleak” assessment given by the Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, this week – Sydney Morning Herald
State funding inadequate, say hospitals – Victoria’s first ”billion-dollar health service” has blamed inadequate State Government funding for its slipping further into the red. Other hospitals are said to be angry the Government has not fully funded the wages deals it signed with doctors and nurses, leaving them to pick up the tab – Melbourne Age
NT Govt slashes bookies’ taxes – The NT is slashing taxes for online bookmakers in a bid to hold off poachers from down south. Tasmania is trying to become a world hub for internet gambling by capping state taxes for bookies at $250,000 a year. The State Government hopes to lure some of the NT-based companies to Hobart. But the Northern Territory News learnt yesterday that the NT Government will match the Tasmanian offer at a cost of several million dollars – Northern Territory News
Victoria’s second casino on cards – Premier John Brumby has opened the door for a second casino in Victoria – just five months after the Government ruled out such a move – Melbourne Age
The Tamils are fleeing because no one will ease their plight – Bruce Haigh writes in the Sydney Morning Herald that political point-scoring is obscuring the facts on asylum seekers.
Refugee lobby’s 10 commandments – Paul Sheehan in the Sydney Morning Herald points out how the tough border security rhetoric of the Rudd Government has been exposed as mere macho grandstanding. Suddenly the PM is talking about ”illegal immigrants” and standing up to evil people smugglers. It’s spin.
Time for Australia to spell out consistent rules on China Inc – says Malcolm Maiden in the Sydney Morning Herald
A simple Twitter brings down the mighty cone of silence – Richard Ackland in the Sydney Morning Herald tells how Twitter messages beat a judicially imposed cone of silence on a court cazse involving a major polluter.
An ugly, divisive debate – Michelle Grattan in the Melbourne Age sees the the tone as getting nasty and this is alarming. The Government, worried about its inability to control the water-borne influx and also about the politics, has launched into both frantic activity and hyped rhetoric. The embattled Opposition is seizing on an emotive issue that played for it politically in the past – before causing it trouble. But that could be a dangerous tactic: this is something that divides Liberal ranks.
It’s Rudd’s new Tampa – Andrew Bolt in the Melbourne Herald Sun calls it Kevin Rudd’s Tampa – a boat of illegal immigrants turned back at gunpoint and sent to a foreign island. Hey, where’s the media outrage now? Or is that reserved just for prime ministers called John Howard? If this didn’t involve the lives of 255 Sri Lankans, now bobbing off Java and refusing to leave their boat, you’d laugh – Melbourne Herald Sun
Squandering the crisis – Henry Ergas in The Australian believes that on any objective assessment, the advanced economies’ long-term growth potential has gone backwards over the past two years.
Taliban launches new attacks as onslaughts in Pakistan kill 39 – The Australian
Verve bosses get big pay rises despite loss – The managing director of WA’s power generator Verve Energy was given a $94,000 pay rise last financial year despite overseeing a loss at the State-owned utility of $171 million and rocketing prices for households – The West Australian
Bank of Queensland banking on becoming one of big boys – Brisbane Courier Mail
BHP, Rio ditch joint iron ore marketing plan – BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto have been forced into the first major backdown on the hastily arranged $US116 billion ($126m) merger of their Pilbara iron ore interests, scrapping the proposed joint marketing of up to 15 per cent of production – The Australian
Threat to turn off tap on water grants – The Rudd government is threatening to rethink $3.7 billion in water grants to laggard states because of unacceptable delays in state governments spending the money – The Australian
Brumby warned of power shortage – Victoria could face widespread power disruptions due to the closure of two of its four brown coal power stations in the next decade as Australia reduces its greenhouse gas emissions, according to high-level advice before the State Government – Melbourne Age
Chips are down as parents get healthy diet message – The contribution of ”extra” foods like chips, sweets and fizzy drinks to Australian children’s diets has fallen over the past decade, according to Sydney University analysis that suggests the healthy eating message may be getting through to parents – Sydney Morning Herald
NAB breaks ranks on fees – Federal Treasurer Wayne Swan has called on banks to abolish much-hated monthly account-keeping charges, as National Australia Bank became the first major bank in nearly a decade to offer a fee-free account – Melbourne Age
Law and order
Yes, it’s OK to give the kids a smack, parents say – overwhelmingly – A massive 92 per cent of heraldsun.com.au readers yesterday said parents should be allowed to smack their misbehaving children. Many said the hands-off approach was creating a generation who showed no respect for authority – Melbourne Herald Sun
ICAC work is not my role, says Pallaras – SA Director of Public Prosecutions Stephen Pallaras, QC, has defended his call for an independent crime commission, saying neither his office nor the police can adequately investigate corruption issues – Adelaide Advertiser
New cops led astray by rotten rebels – A cabal of experienced Victoria police see themselves as “guardians” of a counter-culture that promotes self-interest ahead of ethical service and encourages rule-breaking among younger officers as a necessary part of the job. Victoria’s police watchdog, the Office of Police Integrity, yesterday handed down its annual report, exposing the practice of some officers “green-lighting” unethical conduct – The Australian
Crooked cops leaking confidental information to criminals – Crooked cops have jeopardised the lives of innocent people by leaking confidential information to criminals. Office of Police Integrity director Michael Strong also revealed corrupt police have derailed a number of important investigations into organised crime by tipping off criminal associates – Melbourne Herald Sun
Gang search crosses state borders – The hunt for the Gang of 49 crossed state borders yesterday, as heavily armed Victorian police arrested two alleged key members – Adelaide Advertiser
That’s another fine mess to backflip on – Archaic laws banning fortune tellers, fighting for money or letting loose a horse in public are likely to be scrapped in the Northern Territory under a complete overhaul of dated legislation – Northern Territory News
Golliwogs out of work after store banishment – They were popular toys for generations of children but now golliwogs have become casualties of the Hey, Hey It’s Saturday blackface controversy – banished to the back of some shops to keep them out of the public eye – Sydney Daily Telegraph
Primary school kids ‘binge drinking’ – Primary school children are binge drinking, which, in turn, is leading to violent and anti-social behaviour, researchers have found – Adelaide Advertiser
Covert cops hit boozers at the Caulfield Cup – Undercover police will patrol tomorrow’s Caulfield Cup dressed as stylish racegoers as part of a Spring Racing Carnival booze blitz – Melbourne Herald Sun
Labor, Nationals tagged as hypocrites over shop hours – Nationals and Labor MPs have been accused of rank hypocrisy over their deregulated trading stance after it emerged that most of the country areas granted exemptions to the State’s retail trading rules sit squarely in their electorates – The West Australian