IN THE BROADSHEETS
It's a taxing morning for the papers, which all report that the
Federal Government is "under pressure" to deliver tax cuts, none with
more gusto than The Australian of course, which reports that business
leaders are demanding the Howard Government use its massive budget surplus for structural tax reform
instead of another round of "half-hearted" tax cuts. (It would
certainly be news if business leaders were not demanding such things.)
The Age reports that another round of income tax cuts
is at the top of the Federal Government's agenda for next year after
confirmation that it is on track to amass more than $40 billion in
surpluses on the back of soaring tax collections. Michelle Grattan
looks at the tensions between Peter Costello and Malcolm Turnbull and
says if there is to be tax reform, it should come after public debate
and not simply be delivered from on high in the Budget. The Australian
reports that $200m in wrongly collected tax will be repaid to more than 200,000 individuals and businesses after a huge bungle by the Australian Taxation Office.
The Herald is again suffering the impact of strike action, so fewer
links from that source, although it does report that hundreds of
striking editorial staff at Fairfax newspapers The Sydney Morning
Herald and The Sun-Herald have been ordered back to work by the Australian Industrial Relations Commission and will consider their position today.
The Age reports that the Senate's RU486 inquiry has turned to the question at what stage in a pregnancy does the embryo have rights of its own distinct from the mother's right over her body?; that members of an alleged Melbourne terrorist group considered launching bomb attacks to pressure the Federal Government "in pursuit of jihad Australia", a prosecutor said; that the army will undergo its most radical shake-up since World War II
with a $1.5 billion reorganisation built around nine heavily equipped
"battlegroups" able to fight wars and carry out major peacekeeping
operations at short notice anywhere in the world; that the proportion
of Australians in custody has increased by 25 per cent
over the past decade, according to figures released yesterday by the
Australian Bureau of Statistics; and that Justice Brian Martin
yesterday urged Bradley John Murdoch to reveal where he buried Peter Falconio's body — then sentenced him to at least 28 years' jail for the murder.
The Australian reports that scientist Barry Marshall, whose research on stomach ulcers won him a Nobel prize, is claiming up to $US8 million ($10.5 million) in unpaid royalties for a detection device produced by a US company; that South Australia's deadly listeria crisis has exposed a rift in state Government ranks,
with one senior minister suggesting that a "zero tolerance" policy on
food contamination may be "too rigorous" on meat producers; that Arabic
community members say they have been targeted in a spate of race attacks that have reportedly included women having their veils torn off; and that Cronulla's beaches might be divided into sections to remove some of the tensions that erupted into mob violence this week; and that prosecutors are considering criminal charges
against a high-profile lawyer, a former senior police officer and a
now-disgraced adviser to the Victorian police commissioner over
misappropriation of funds allegations involving a Melbourne
And in yet another example of how The Australian goes about its
work, it reports that "Australia can no longer rely on its remoteness
from the world's trouble spots to keep it safe, particularly when
confronted by terrorists willing to use weapons of mass destruction".
(No attribution in that lead paragraph - it's from the Defence
Department's update, and departments do tend to talk up their case for
resources; and no questioning of the claim - the actual chances of it
happening, quotes from experts about the difficulty of terrorists
actually delivering a WMD attack on Australia. Zilch. Government
fear-mongering reported as holy writ, without a hint of scepticism. And
they call it journalism. Bah humbug!)
A woman has been found alive after 63 days under the rubble of Pakistan's earthquake; and we were sad to learn that Jess and Marty have split, or at least we might have been if we had the slightest idea who Jess and Marty were, and why we should care.
But there is good news in the papers, as John Howard declares that Australia is still 'Godzown' country - "It's still the greatest place on earth - PM".
The Age: Richard Larkins
(Monash University vice-chancellor) argues the Government is singling
the universities out for special legislation that is ideologically
driven, while ignoring the major issues like funding; Natasha Cica
sees in recent events and legislation a failure of leadership, and
wonders how long it will be before those who care about such things do
something about it; Renata Alexander
(family law barrister) says forcing joint parenting and shared custody
upon parents who are in conflict and unco-operative can be harmful to
children; and Paul Austin says the Bracks Government is "the home of world-class performances" when it comes to spin and self-promotion.
The Australian: Michael Costello
takes up the case of David Hicks, even though he says this is not easy,
making the obvious point that he should be treated according to rule of
law because that is one of the things the war on terror is meant to be
about; Paul Dibb
thinks there are some good things in yesterday's defence announcement,
but takes another shot at the yet to be deployed amphibious ships, and
worries it will produce a one-shot ADF; Keith Windschuttle ties himself in logical knots as he argues that the Cronulla riot was a multicultural riot, not a race riot; and Frank Devine thinks John Howard is lucky to have such useless enemies.
The SMH: Richard Ackland
looks at John Howard's history on race issues and says "is it any
wonder, for a man who has spoken out of both sides of his mouth for 30
years on race, that he wouldn't detect just the tiniest hint of racism
in the land he leads, and moreover not lift a finger to do anything
about it?"; David Miller
(Daily Telegraph) remembers the Munich Olympic Games after seeing the
movie "Munich" and says revenge as an ideology is as doomed; Nick Squires
(Daily Telegraph) trots out a few familiar lines about Australia after
Cronulla and Falconio; and Richard Larkins, see Age above.
The Australians lead reports the Australian Stock Exchange will
spin off its role as market supervisor into a subsidiary company and
spend an extra $10.4 million to lift the poor strike rate on prosecutions
for insider trading as it races to keep pace with the booming share
market. The paper also reports that the takeover battle for Patrick
Corp is about to get personal, with the company set to sue Toll
Holdings chief Paul Little and director Mark Rowsthorn over allegations of misleading and deceptive conduct at their joint venture rail business Pacific National; and that Telecom New Zealand has warned of falling valuations across the industry, as it starts a long-awaited formal process to review its struggling Australian business AAPT.
The Fairfax papers report that Macquarie Bank has delivered a slap in the face to directors of the London Stock Exchange by reiterating a takeover bid they derided a week ago; that Peter Costello has slashed more than $6.5 billion from the valuation of the Government's 51 per cent stake in Telstra; that the shortlist of bidders for the Myer department stores has expanded
because Ironbridge Capital is back in contention after joining forces
with two other private equity groups in advance of presentations today
and Monday by Myer managing director Dawn Robertson; and that the World
Trade Organisation is trying to forge a global agreement this week to remove all tariffs and quotas
on products from the world's 50 least-developed countries in the hope
this will clear the way to wider agreements on trade reform.
says welter of claims and counter-claims make it difficult to sort out
just who's behaving badly in the spat between Toll and its takeover
target, Patrick Corp, over their 50-50 owned rail joint venture,
Pacific National, but he thinks it Patricks; and Stephen Bartholomeusz
thinks the contrast between the outcome of the floats of Goodman
Fielder, SP AusNet and Spark Infrastructure is telling - who would have
thought that Goodman would be the one to be most highly sought after?
The Daily Telegraph:
Joanne Lees has revealed how her dreams of spending the rest of her
life with her boyfriend were shattered when he was murdered on a lonely
Outback highway; Schapelle Corby's mother yesterday denied that
photographs of her daughter relaxing at a party with friends implied
the former beauty student had anything to do with drugs.
Commonwealth Games fans will have to wait up to an hour to enter the
MCG under the toughest counter-terror measures imposed in Australia.
Security checks will be similar to those at international airports;
Joanne Lees' grief at losing her soul mate Peter Falconio was summed up
in five words in a Darwin courtroom yesterday. "It is lonely being me,"
Organised criminals are sending millions of dollars worth of stolen
Queensland property to interstate and overseas buyers; An off-duty
police officer has been caught three times over the alcohol limit
driving home from his work Christmas party – in a paddy wagon.
The family of a man killed by food poisoning while he was a patient at
the Royal Adelaide Hospital was told he would be "coming home" just
days before his death; The relocation of an army battalion to South
Australia will provide more economic and employment benefits than the
$6 billion air warfare destroyer contract.
The West Australian:
The man who will reap hundreds of thousands of taxpayers' dollars in
compensation for injuries he received while lying drunk on a road
yesterday defended his payout, saying the tow-truck driver who ran over
him should have seen him; West Australians are turning their backs on
the needy this Christmas despite living in an economic boom time
expected to result in a record spending spree on festive gifts, food
Brian Harradine says Howard Government can't hide behind the Telstra
board over a backflip on its guarantee on jobs for Tasmania; Education
Minister Paula Wriedt's new Essential Learnings report cards were
attacked as nonsensical yesterday -- by a candidate from her own
Outspoken South Africa captain Graeme Smith says he is trying to stay out of the sledging controversy engulfing the first Test against Australia at the WACA starting today, but admits there will be "heated moments"; Former world 100m record holder Tim Montgomery has announced his retirement,
one day after receiving a two-year doping ban from the Court of
Arbitration for Sport; America's welterweight boxing champion Zab Judah
has issued Kostya Tszyu an insult-laden invitation for a re-match of their controversial 2001 world-title bout; A relaxed and rejuvenated Ian Thorpe will start his sprint campaign
in earnest in Sydney today at a star-studded NSW swimming
championships, with his manager believing his charge has greater desire