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The Daily Briefing 15/12/05

By Wayne Sanderson
Created 15/12/2005 - 08:22



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1    National, Opinion, Business round-up ready [1]


National, Opinion, Business round-up


The Sydney Morning Herald has been hit by industrial problems - there are fewer references to the Herald this morning. And those on a red meat, right-wing diet should head straight to The Australian's opinion pages, which espouses views (Steketee aside) that would embarrass all but the most rabid conservative outlets found in the US. Why doesn't the OZ simply declate that it is a conservative publication and give up this pretence of being a mainstream newspaper?

In fact The Australian has more than a whiff of hysteria and beat-up about it. Its lead reports that four churches in Sydney's southwest have been attacked in 24 hours as the city's riots spread from race to religion [3], and sees conspiracy “to ‘shame’ the city's Lebanese Christian community into supporting Lebanese Muslims in the race-hate war, which began as a battle against young white males over use of suburban beaches". (Hang on, wasn't it the "young white males" trying to kick "the bloody Lebs" off the beaches?). The paper reports that NSW Premier Morris Iemma has called on people not to renounce their Australian identity [4] in the face of intimidation by Lebanese gangs - even if it means being bashed. It also reports that NSW will have to borrow to pay its police, nurses and teachers and could lose its coveted triple-A credit rating after Premier Morris Iemma revealed a billion-dollar budget crisis [5] yesterday; that Australia plans to spend up to $2 billion on a fleet of giant aircraft [6] to transport Abrams tanks and other heavy equipment around the world; that small-scale property developers have been left confused about their obligations to pay GST [7] under a new series of tax office rulings criticised by the industry as "too broad"; and that Fairfax Sydney newspapers are likely to be severely disrupted after about 500 journalists went on strike indefinitely [8] yesterday.

The Age reports that Qantas has vowed to slash air fares on flights to the United States [9] — adding to political pressure on the Howard Government to keep Singapore Airlines locked out of the lucrative Pacific routes; that Malaysia has delivered a blow to Australia's aspirations [10] of being included as part of the East Asia community, saying it should not expect to be regarded as an insider; that the Federal Government has cast doubts on David Hicks' ability to return to Australia [11] if he is granted British citizenship and released from Guantanamo Bay; that racist text messages and emails inciting organised violence [12] against ethnic groups have been seized by Victoria Police but dismissed as the work of bored teenagers with no links to community or ethnic groups; that tax dodgers, a bogus rabbi and a printing press churning out fake examination documents highlight the multimillion-dollar problem of identity fraud in our universities [13], a report reveals; and that police have charged Robert Farquharson with the murder of his three sons [14], who drowned when a car plunged into a dam near Geelong on Father's Day.

Sean Leahy [15] sees some of John Howard's chickens coming home to roost in a cartoon whose sentiment are echoed by Mike Steketee's column below.

And Peter Beattie, having joined TDB's campaign for public editors or an ombudsman to be appointed by media outlets (Age Opinion below), says that he would be pleased to see Fairfax start a broadsheet in Queensland [16], as The Courier-Mail announces that it is to go tabloid next year, see State papers.


The Age: Peter Beattie [17] calls for the appointment of ombudsmen by media outlets to lift standards and give greater accountability (a idea TDB has pushed many times); Kenneth Davidson [18] looks at the problem of Australia's increasing foreign debt and says "the "savings" undertaken by the Howard Government since 1996 in the name of financial orthodoxy are the product of a mad accountancy that says we cannot afford to finance first-class research institutions, schools, hospitals and transport and communications systems by public borrowings"; Marilyn Lake [19] says xenophobia has a long history in Australia and that multiculturalism must be promoted as a national value as a counter to militant nationalism which feeds off resurgent interests in militarism; and Barney Zwartz [20] says the riots were a product of victimhood, and calls for national leadership.

The Australian: Mike Steketee [21] ridicules John Howard for refusing to label the Cronulla riots as racism, sees elements of Hansonism revisited and says that terrorism has added to a volatile mix; Peter Ryan [22] uses the riots to claim victory in the history wars for the right, and urge an apology for Geoffrey Blainey (Manning Clark gets a whack along the way - Ryan was a co-conspirator in Oz editor-in-chief Chris Mitchell's barking mad "Order of Lenin" campaign against Clark); David Flint [23] defends talkback radio following the riots and says they were the result of the Carr Government's failure on law and order (among a range of silly claims he also says that The Age no longer publishes a conservative columnist - he has obviously never read Tony Parkinson); and Ted Lapkin [24] (right-wing nutter extraordinaire) backs the US military justice system in Guantanamo Bay and in a column filled with errors and loopy arguments make this bizarre claim: "other than neo-Nazis, rabid Serb nationalists and John Pilger, there are few voices complaining that Herman Goering and Slobodan Milosevic were the victims of kangaroo justice".

The SMH: Miranda Devine [25] lists those getting the blame for the Cronulla riots, including John Howard, multiculturalism, political correctness and left-leaning police and says "there are probably elements of truth in all the arguments" (strewth Miranda, if we can't rely on you to make things simple and simplistic, who can we turn to?); Jamie Mackie [26] ponders the future of ASEAN; and Tim Costello [27] still hopes the WTO talks will be a step forward toward making poverty history.


Telstra is having another bad morning of it, with The Age reporting that the telco has escaped court action and fines but has been dealt a stinging rebuke from the corporate watchdog [28] for leaking confidential material to the media and failing to brief the stock exchange on market-sensitive information. The story goes on to report that Telecommunications Minister Helen Coonan said the Government was unlikely to intervene in Telstra's public battle with the consumer watchdog over prices it could charge competitors for access to its copper telephone network. Stephen Bartholomeusz [29] describes Coonan as obdurate, says most of Telstra's proposed high-speed fibre-to-the-node network may never be built and expects hostilities to continue. Malcolm Maiden [30] says ASIC's "unacceptable" declaration about Telstra's disclosure to the markets is more than a wrist slap; and Bryan Frith [31] says Telstra may have avoided enforcement action but Australia's largest company has nevertheless received a black eye as a result of ASIC's investigation into the telco's disclosure practices.

The Age also reports that Coopers Brewery shareholders have derailed Lion Nathan's hostile $420 million [32], $310-a-share bid by junking the rights that once put the maker of Tooheys, XXXX and Hahn third in line to buy Coopers shares; that Qantas has backed Boeing [33] with the first tranche of its $20 billion fleet re-equipment spending, committing to buy 65 of the company's new 787 wide-bodied aircraft and ignoring Airbus' A350 class competitor; that avoiding a damaging slowdown triggered by the gaping US current account deficit [34] will require globally co-ordinated action — including extra infrastructure investment by commodity producers such as Australia, the Government's top economic adviser has warned; and that barring a catastrophe within the next 16 days, superannuation funds are set to ride the record-breaking sharemarket to establish their own milestone — the first time they have recorded two consecutive years of double-digit returns [35] since 1998.

The Australian's lead reports that Visy Industries chief executive Harry Debney expects his company to be hauled into court [36] by the competition regulator any day now, a year after allegations of an illegal cardboard price-fixing cartel first emerged. It also reports that yesterday's announcement by Lehman Brothers that it earned a record $US3.3 billion ($4.37 billion) profit for 2005, capped by a 41 per cent surge in earnings [37] in the fourth quarter, kicks off what is expected to be a triumphal march through to the year's end by Wall Street's top houses; and that Qantas is moving to tighten the reins on problem child Jetstar Asia [38] by appointing chief financial officer Peter Gregg as chairman and Jetstar chief executive Alan Joyce to the board.


The Daily Telegraph [39]: "NRL foes unite to stop riots" - was raised in The Shire and the other is a devout Lebanese Muslim who grew up in Sydney's southwest but spent the summer soaking up the sun at Cronulla; Extra police will defend Sydney's most sacred sites after an unprovoked attack on two churches in the city's west.

The Herald-Sun [40]: A father was behind bars last night charged with the drowning murder of his three sons after their car plunged into a dam in a Father's Day tragedy; Rugby League stars stepped into the front line yesterday to try to halt the race-fuelled violence racking Sydney. But neither Bulldogs star Hazem El Masri, 29, or former Cronulla Sharks front-rower Jason Stevens, 32, have the solution to what sparked the anger and hatred which spewed forth at the Cronulla riots.

The Courier-Mail [41]: More than 500 children in the care of the state were found to have been abused or still at risk of harm last year; The Courier-Mail is to become a tabloid next year.

The Advertiser [42]: Unruly Housing Trust tenants would be kicked out of their properties under a "two strikes and you're out" policy pledged by the Liberal Party; Jenny Remigio, the South Australian woman who said she believed the shooting death of her husband in Manila last year was a case of mistaken identity, was yesterday charged with orchestrating his murder.

The West Australian [43]: Taxpayers are facing the prospect of shelling out hundreds of thousands of dollars extra to finance next year's Rally Australia after revelations yesterday that major sponsor Telstra was yet to commit to backing the icon event in 2006; Foolhardy drunks whose dangerous antics cause car accidents which leave them severely injured are still eligible for compensation, the High Court has ruled.

The Mercury [44]: A Salamanca pub owner has slammed the Hobart City Council over plans to fence off outdoor drinking areas, saying the draconian measure would kill off a long-standing festive tradition for Hobart; Part privatisation of Telstra is coming back to bite Tasmania as hi-tech jobs secured by former senator Brian Harradine are being cut.


Brad Hodge will not let his less than intimidating record in Perth distract him from creating the big innings on which he hopes to build a Test career, knowing the likely reward is a Boxing Day appearance [45] at the MCG; Geelong players roundly endorsed midfielder David Johnson for entry into the leadership group [46] for next season; The murky world of tennis gambling is back in the spotlight [47], with one of Victoria's largest sports betting agencies being granted protection against suspicious injury defaults in new rules to come into effect the week before the Australian Open; Andrew Bogut continues to earn rave reviews in his rookie year with Milwaukee Bucks, but the Australian faces his biggest test today when he meets the game's most dominant force, Shaquille O'Neal [48].

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