IN THE BROADSHEETS
Peter Costell is not out of the political woods that have grown up
around his appointment of "true blue" Liberal Robert Gerard to the
Reserve Bank, with The Australian in particular adding to his woes this
morning. The paper's lead reports that Gerard struck an insurance deal in a Caribbean tax haven
that lacked any legal or financial credibility, a damning report by an
eminent reinsurance expert prepared for the Australian Tax Office
found. With that out of the way, it's a print pile-on as the editorial questions
Costello's "instinct for ethical issues, political judgement and
commitment to the job in hand required from any aspiring prime
minister"; Matt Price
thinks Costello's observation that we are all "entitled to funnel our
pay through a Caribbean tax haven will come as enormous comfort next
time auditors arrive demanding receipts"; although Dennis Shanahan
sees a glimmer of hope, observing that while "Costello still has a
problem over his appointment of Robert Gerard to the Reserve Bank board
but Labor's political momentum against the Liberal leadership aspirant
is stalling". By comparison, the Fairfax papers all but run dead on the
issue (a little odd given that the Fin broke the story), although The
Age reports that Gerard had his family’s business assets frozen by the corporate regulator
six months after his appointment to the Reserve Bank board, bringing
into question the Treasurer's claim that his tax dispute was resolved
at the time. The paper's editorial is headed "Costello's blunder spoils his own good work".
The Australian reports that the sedition laws will contain a new "public interest" defence
to reflect the concerns of media outlets and Coalition MPs that the
provisions could harm free speech; that Britain asked the Australian
embassy in Jakarta not to press the Indonesian Government
about the fate of five Australian-based journalists killed by invading
Indonesian troops in East Timor in 1975, according to newly released
diplomatic cables; and that a test case in the Victorian Supreme Court
threatens to drive non-lawyer conveyancers out of business and restore the monopoly the state's solicitors once enjoyed over property transactions.
The Age is excited about a story that had a run in The Australian yesterday, reporting that Australia has by far the most overvalued houses in the Western world, with prices 52 per cent higher than justified by rental values, the OECD says. It also reports that Nguyen Tuong Van is ready to die a good death; that Australia risks promoting, rather than reducing, terrorism
if increased police powers and security measures are seen as directed
exclusively against Islamic groups, research shows; and that scientists
are investigating the mysterious deaths of about 400 ducks in a wetland area on Melbourne's western fringe.
The Herald reports that the Federal Government has agreed to a number of amendments to its tough new anti-terrorism laws
under heavy pressure from its back bench, including softening its
contentious sedition provisions; that Federal Government backbencher
has implored her colleagues to vote against proposed welfare changes, saying society will be poorer if cuts to welfare payments are passed; that despite the focus on an ageing population, the number of children in Australia has been on the rise,
an official report shows, raising questions about the potential to
shift expenditure from the young to the old; and that Australia is
likely to meet a target for greenhouse gas emissions, but only because significant reductions in the rate of land clearing are masking increases in emissions.
You may also be interested to know that a psychiatrist says electromagnetic "smog" from mobile phone networks and whitegoods could affect mood and behaviour;
that former Neighbours star Shane Connor has been awarded almost
$200,000 after a judge found that the veteran performer and
self-confessed drug user had been wrongfully sacked from the long-running soap opera; and that limbo, the resting place for the souls of unbaptised children, is being written out of Catholic tradition (see Opinion below).
The Age: Scott Burchill
believes the only option for the US in Iraq is the imperial one - it
will have to maintain control of this strategically important country; Nicola Roxon explains why she is joining Parliamentarians for an Australian Head of State, to be launched today; Kenneth Davidson looks at some of the town planning issues faced by Melbourne (including climate change); and Alan Attwood explains the interest in the recently auctioned Burke and Wills water bottle.
The Australian: Mike Steketee
analyses the welfare to work and workplace legislation and finds some
inherent contradictions (he is also bemused to discover that John
Howard has become a de facto recruiting officer for trade unions); Geoffrey Wheatcroft explains why the Tories are less than excited by the prospects of Jeffrey Archer rejoining their ranks; P. P. McGuinness
shows some discomfort for democracy in action, as he rails against the
trend for more independents to be elected to Parliament, something he
describes as the triumph of nimbyism over the national interest (guess
we are all meant to vote for either tweedledum or tweedledee - and be
happy about it!); Peter Curson
(as if we don't already have enough things to be fearful of) explains
how dastardly pandemics can be, hints at the risk of bio-terrorists
spreading diseases, and says health must play a role in national
security; and Sean Parnell
thinks Peter Beattie should listen to the findings of the Davies Report
in Dr Death, and sack former Health Minister Gordon Nuttall.
The SMH: Paul Collins writes about the theological history of limbo, a place the Catholic Church is moving to abolish; Miranda Devine
thinks she is on to a plot between greenies and the RTA that will see
the Pacific Highway save snails but endanger humans near Byron Bay
(trouble is, Miranda admits that the documents which might prove this
dastardly conspiracy have not yet been made available); Julia Baird
enters the world of Harry Potter, and a literary debate about magical
tales involving A.S. Byatt, to explain why these stories enchant us;
and Ian Caterson
looks at options for tackling the obesity crisis, but is not convinced
that mandatory fitness testing for school children is a good idea.
Let's start with the big picture first. The lead in The Age reports that the OECD has forecast a modest quickening of economic activity in Australia and globally,
as the first data from the September quarter showed construction at a
record. The paper also reports that somewhere in Prime Minister John
Howard's busy inbox is rumoured to be a draft bill on anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing
that businesses have been waiting more than two years to see; and that
Telstra chief executive Sol Trujillo has sent a second personal letter
to shareholders, seeking support in its battle with the Government and
the ACCC over the regulations it says threaten to strangle it.
The Herald leads on the Packers, reporting that Consolidated Press
Holding's latest results, filed with the corporate regulator earlier
this month, show the company reported a solid 12 per cent increase in net profit to $111 million
for the year to June 30. It also reports that retailer Strathfield
Group might have added some credibility in the form of a new chairman,
former Supreme and Federal Court judge Marcus Einfeld, but there are
signs the old problems linger not far from the surface; and that transport group Toll Holdings will push ahead with its efforts to buy P&O's Australian stevedoring operations in case its $4.6 billion bid for Patrick Corporation fails.
The Australian reports that innovative super fund Industry Funds
Management last night emerged as a major player in the wave of
consolidation sweeping Britain's ports after it announced a pound stg. 320 million ($737million) recommended bid for PD Ports
in partnership with Challenger and British private equity group 3i;
that long-suffering Allstate Exploration shareholders may face an even
longer wait to see the company move out of administration as gold at its joint venture Beaconsfield Gold Mine stalls;
and that gold fever is sweeping through institutional investors, and
fund managers are pressuring miners not to hedge their production
output - signalling their belief that the price of the metal has much further to go.
says Virgin Blue has, for the first time, publicly articulated its
revised strategy, which, while unlikely to set off any alarms at
Qantas, does provide an insight to how Virgin Blue plans to broaden the
tussle for market share and yield, and its own view of its competitive
advantages; Elizabeth Knight
thinks this is the week New Zealand's richest man Graeme Hart will get
a real feel for whether he made the right decision to re-float Goodman
Fielder or whether he should have taken the money offered to him by
venture capitalists - a route that was cleaner and easier but
potentially less profitable; and Bryan Frith
says Rio Tinto's $400 million sale of its 14.5 per cent shareholding in
Papua New Guinea's Lihir Gold confirms that the "blind date" process
for handling large block sales is here to stay.
The Daily Telegraph:
The mother of condemned Australian Nguyen Tuong Van says she is
"drawing strength" from her doomed son as she steels herself to say her
final goodbye; Naked army officers posed for photographs wearing head
dress and brandishing firearms in the latest shameful episode to rock
the defence forces.
Nguyen Tuong Van's fate was sealed yesterday when Singapore's hardline
leader ruled out a last-minute reprieve from the gallows; A farmer's
wife swore at convicted killer Peter Dupas to leave her alone as he
tried to attack her at Fawkner Cemetery, she told an inquest yesterday.
Queensland's health system has been exposed as Australia's worst
because of a long-running culture of government secrecy and an
obsession with saving money; A culture of secrecy fostered by the
Beattie Government and the previous coalition government has been
declared a primary cause of unsafe care in the health system and the
disaster at Bundaberg Base Hospital.
Adelaide Airport operators hope the polluted fuel system of the new
terminal could be given the all-clear as early as tomorrow; Scrapping
late night sittings, abolishing the Upper House and stopping personal
attacks on MPs - these are some of the reforms the state's outgoing
Liberal MPs believe are needed.
The West Australian:
The Federal Government will announce it is considering a national
roll-out of a controversial no-school, no-welfare scheme for remote
Aboriginal communities when it reveals today that it will reinstate the
highly successful program in Halls Creek; The State Government has
turned its back on key recommendations of WA's first independent review
of urban water pricing.
A Tasmanian cousin by marriage of Princess Mary was behind bars last
night after being found guilty of three sex charges; Overloaded logging
trucks would be caught and fined, State Resources Minister Bryan Green
insisted yesterday in response to earlier allegations in Parliament of
systematic rorting of the logging transport system.
Ricky Ponting has hinted Michael Clarke could return to the Test team
as soon as this month's first match against South Africa, but has urged
the young batsman to stay patient in his return to the national team
for the Chappell-Hadlee one-day series; Wayne Bennett is certain to be reappointed
Australian coach for next year and confirmation could come as early as
the ARL's next board meeting on December 12; Liverpool manager Rafael
Benitez is hoping his striker Harry Kewell responds to Australia's qualification for the World Cup finals by making up for lost time in his contributions at club level.