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The Daily Briefing 12/12/05

By Wayne Sanderson
Created 12/12/2005 - 23:43

National round-up

IN THE BROADSHEETS

The Cronulla race riot dominates all the papers (including the State tabloids below) with the Herald reporting that racial violence erupted in several Sydney suburbs last night in retaliation for a rampage by thousands of young residents [1] through Cronulla that turned the seaside suburb into a battlefield. Damien Murphy provides a stand-out piece of reportage: "thugs ruled the streets, and the mob sang Waltzing Matilda" [2] (just read it!); The Age reports that alcohol, the Australian flag and raw racism fuelled a violent rampage by thousands of young residents [3] in Sydney yesterday, drawing widespread revulsion as bloodshed and bigotry turned a seaside suburb into a battleground; cartoonist Sean Leahy [4] thinks he knows the origins of "Australia's dark heart"; and Paul Sheehan (opinion below) does his best to be even-handed as he reports on the activites of the MarouBra boys.

The Age also reports that a Government-funded pregnancy support package aimed at curbing the abortion rate [5] is due to be considered by senior ministers today, as the Senate inquiry into RU486 turns into a battleground between pro-life and pro-choice supporters; that a Melbourne petroleum company with links to Saddam Hussein's regime has claimed the Howard Government allowed Australian companies to establish relationships with Iraq [6] at the same time as it supported military strikes and economic sanctions against Baghdad; that hundreds of asylum seekers released on temporary visas dumped at the detention centre gate [7], given a bus ticket and $200, and told "you are on your own"; and that the commodity boom, on which the Australian economy and the Government coffers are now so dependent, is unlikely to last [8], Federal Treasury has warned.

The Australian reports that thousands of Asia's best and brightest students will receive funding to study in Australian universities [9] under a federal government scholarship program worth hundreds of millions of dollars; that young Australians are becoming too drugged and too fat to serve [10] their country in the military as it struggles to find recruits; that terrorist suspects under house arrest will be sent to anger management school, given psychological counselling and offered training and education in a bid to turn them from violence [11]; that Barnaby Joyce has questioned Family First senator Steve Fielding's claim he did not canvass issues beyond voluntary student unionism [12] in talks with John Howard that led to his support for the long-held Liberal Party cause; and that woolgrowers are winning the battle against salinity [13], reclaiming half the country's salt-affected land.

The Herald reports that almost half the motorists who took advantage of the Cross City Tunnel's toll-free period have abandoned it since the return of the $3.56 one-way toll [14]; that NSW Health Minister, John Hatzistergos, is backing a push for radical change in hospitals that would include nurses and other health workers taking on some roles [15] performed by doctors; that Australians are turning away from popping prescription pills, according to studies that reveal a surprising fall in government spending on drugs [16] and a decline in prescribing by doctors; that the Federal Treasury has singled out problems with the NSW transport system to explain the weak state economy, while warning retailers that people are saving their tax cuts rather than spending them [17]; and that the minister responsible for the Australian Federal Police, Chris Ellison, says he was unaware that a former bodyguard of Saddam Hussein, Oday Adnan Al Tekriti, had appeared as a Crown witness in a people-smuggling case [18] that he hailed two years ago as the most significant trial of its kind in Australian history.

There is also widespread coverage of the explosions in London which the BBC is reporting is believed to be an accident [19].

OPINION

The Age: Chas Savage [20] notes the perverse impact of privacy laws as he argues that tougher security provisions should be accompanied by tougher safeguards; Judy Moylan [21] says the Government's welfare to work legislations has missed an "opportunity to reform welfare in a meaningful way by continuing to maintain the level of income support for people on welfare while they access all the new services proposed in the legislation and endeavour to uphold their mutual obligations"; Julie Szego [22] is angry about puritanical hypocrisy towards the female body following the Melbourne Commonwealth Games "no cleavage" rule; and Michael Gwenda [23] describes America as awash with drugs as he looks at contradictory attitudes towards illicit and pharmaceutical drugs.

The Australian: Glenn Milne [24] turns thunderer to describe the passage of his Voluntary Student Unionism Bill as the worst trashing of the Senate I've witnessed in 20 years of covering federal politics, and conculdes quoting Alexis de Tocqueville warning of tyranny (echoes of sentiments expressed by Steve Lewis in a column in recent weeks); Niall Ferguson [25] defends the US against the attack by Nobel prize winner Harold Pinter and suggests he stick to writing plays (this column was originally published in the UK Sunday Telegraph,with an aside added taking a swipe at The Age for publishing Pinter's speech); Vincent Matthews [26] expects yet another round of Brussels Bashing over EU agriculture subsidies at the WTO talks; and Joshua Frydenberg and Mishkat al-Moumin [27] (former advisor to John Howard and former Iraqi cabinet minister) preview Iraq's elections (in one of the most Pollyanna-ish columns on the subject to be found anywhere) and hope that "the election of a united, multi-ethnic and moderate government will be another stepping stone in building a vibrant, tolerant and democratic Iraq".

The SMH: Paul Sheehan [28] offers some background explanation for the Cronulla violence, focusing on the activities of the MarouBra boys; Michael Egan [29] (former NSW Treasurer) writes in support of private-public partnerships following the Cross City tunnel controversy; Anne Davies [30] suggests a form of congestion charge on the London model to make the tunnel work and ease traffic problems; and Michael Gawenda [31], see Age above.

BUSINESS

The Age leads on a Tim Colebatch story reporting a subtle shift from Australia's general support for China in its disputes with the US, with Australian Treasury officials concluding that China's currency is undervalued [32] by 15-30 per cent. It also reports that Australian manufacturers will be able to survive [33] in a world dominated by mass-produced goods from Asia if they are prepared to change their concept of what manufacturing is; and that it is make or break week for Macquarie Bank's ambitious bid [34] for the London Stock Exchange, with a formal offer due by 5pm on Thursday in Britain.

The Herald reports that the Coles Myer's board will today discard some of the bidders from the shortlist [35] of potential purchasers of the Myer department stores; that senior executives and one director involved in the corrugated box industry, including a person with "a high profile in the community", are among the likely likely targets of legal action planned by the ACCC [36] after a year-long investigation into an alleged cartel; and John Garnaut reports that this week Ken Henry will add another few billion to the budget surplus forecast, as he has done roughly every six months since becoming Treasury secretary in 2001, but wonders how long the resources boom can last [37].

The Australian reports that Peter Margin's extensive experience in the industry has been one of the selling points in the float of the Goodman Fielder assets [38] by Graeme Hart's Burns Philp; that John Fairfax Holdings' new chief executive officer, David Kirk, has mapped out an aggressive acquisition strategy [39], saying "it would make sense" for the newspaper group to diversify into radio; and that the economy will enjoy another year of record resource prices [40], but the election year of 2007 could see commodity markets thrown into reverse.

STATE ROUND-UP

The Herald-Sun [41]: "Our disgrace" - They called it a day of pride, but it will go down as a day of national disgrace, as thousands of drunken youths descended on Cronulla yesterday; Premier Morris Iemma has defended himself against claims police at North Cronulla were under-resourced and ill-prepared for yesterday's violence.

The Daily Telegraph [42]: Angry crowds singled out and bashed people of Middle Eastern appearance at one of Australia's iconic beaches as racial tensions boiled over into mob violence; More than 47,500 Year 12 students will be celebrating this morning after finding they passed the VCE

The Courier-Mail [43]: They called it a day of pride, but it will go down as a day of national disgrace; A power struggle has erupted in the Queensland Nationals between senators Ron Boswell and Barnaby Joyce which could cost the Howard Government its Senate majority.

The Advertiser [44]: A huge metropolitan swing to Labor has put the Rann Government on track to easily win two key north-eastern suburbs seats, taking one from the Liberals; They called it a day of pride, but it will go down as a day of national disgrace.

The West Australian [45]: West Australians are uneasy about the impact of the controversial new Federal workplace laws, with nearly a third believing they will be worse off - but most will not vote for Labor to get them changed, according to the latest Westpoll; A new campaign of co-operation with Indonesia to reduce illegal fishing off the WA coast is only a half-measure and more patrols are needed to protect our fish stocks, according to the WA Government and the fishing industry.

The Mercury [46]: After a near-death experience, Hobart woman Michelle Wylie desperately wants to go home to be cared for by her family -- but she can't; As former Tasmanian premier Jim Bacon was dying of lung cancer, he received many letters suggesting he try a range of unorthodox treatments, including coffee enemas, faith healing and even an "energy cleaner machine".

SPORT

Robert Allenby used the words of a young cancer sufferer for inspiration as he completed an historic hat-trick of domestic titles [47] at Huntingdale yesterday, beating American Bubba Watson at the first hole of a sudden-death play-off; Three Australian born-and-raised players who have chosen to play for Croatia rather than Australia [48] in the World Cup; Ricky Stuart has emerged as favourite for the Australian coaching job [49] vacated by the resignation of Wayne Bennett, but if he were offered the job and decided to take it he would almost certainly have to stand down from coaching NSW in State of Origin; Cricket Australia is set to review the process [50] that resulted in Adam Gilchrist touring New Zealand when he had expected to be rested.

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