Thursday, February 05, 2009

Headlines Thursday 5th February 2009


Senate to hold inquiry on stimulus plan
The federal government's latest stimulus plan has hit a snag after the opposition and crossbench senators forced an inquiry into the $42 billion package.
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Obama clamps $500K cap on bailed-out executives
US President Barack Obama Wednesday clamped a $US500,000 ($A767,225) cap on pay for executives of stricken finance firms who ask taxpayers "hat in hand" for bailouts, in a new bid to tame Wall Street excess. - a stupid decision showing Obama has never worked in his life. This bad decision will mean that executive for whom it is time to go will stay. - ed.
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NZ reveals its recession-fighting plan
New Zealand on Wednesday unveiled a jobs and growth plan that included tax reforms aimed at saving businesses $NZ480 million ($A378 million) to fight the recession.

Prime Minister John Key said the package was intended to make life easier for small-to-medium sized companies as New Zealand, which began shrinking early last year, continues to be shaken by the global financial crisis.

"The tax changes will cost $NZ480 million over the next four years," Key said.

"The package as a whole is aimed at urgently improving the business environment by reducing the impact of taxes on firms' cashflows, improving firms' access to credit, and reducing business compliance costs."

Although the package paled in comparison to the $A42 billion plan announced on Tuesday by Australia, Key said a balance had to be struck between reducing pain now and not burdening the country's accounts for years to come.

"It is not always about the amount of physical money that you are spending. It is about the ease of doing business ... if you are solely going to measure things on the fiscal cost of them you are missing the point," he said
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Scientists uncover secret behind Aussie drought
Scientists believe they have found the answer to a question that has plagued Australians for a century - what causes crippling drought in the southeastern states? - hint, it isn't global warming. - ed.
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Good Samaritan stabbed in stomach
Two men have ended up in hospital after they tried to step in and help another man being attacked in central Melbourne.
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'I've never seen such a nervous leader': Top Gear lads knock Rudd
Infamous Top Gear host Jeremy Clarkson has paid our PM a backhanded compliment, saying it’s refreshing to see a world leader look so “genuinely terrified.” - other leaders try to look competent. -ed.
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Obama campaign manager scores seven-figure book deal
Obama campaign manager David Plouffe has agreed to a seven-figure deal to write a book about last year's presidential election.
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Watchdog flags crackdown on Underbelly, Ramsay
Foul-mouthed tv chef Gordon Ramsay and the original series of Underbelly have resulted in the broadcasting watchdog enforcing stringent new classification conditions on Channel 9.
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Hungry killers ate girl's body parts
Fears of an all-out bikie war after Hells Angels bombing
Last stimulus failed, now let's have another: Rudd, Swan
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PM unwisely derides and revives Costello
Piers Akerman
THE Rudd Labor Government has made two major mistakes with its approach to the current financial meltdown.
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Why Turnbull's taking the right stance
Malcolm Turnbull should be applauded - not criticised - for refusing to immediately pass Kevin Rudd's $42 billion stimulus package, writes Alan Jones.
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SHOWBIZ NOTES
Tim Blair
The ABC reports:
Libya’s eccentric and flamboyant leader Colonel Moamar Gaddafi has landed a dream job.
Well, la-de-dah! In other dreamy flamboyant news, plans to turn Al Gore’s warmy-campy propaganda into an opera might soon be put on ice:
Who would have thought attempting to turn Al Gore’s eco-friendly PowerPoint presentation into an opera might not go smoothly? Director William Friedkin has quit (fled?) the opera production, scheduled to premiere in 2011.
It’s a tipping point, people.
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JOB DONE
Tim Blair
Former Labor minister Gareth Evans is stepping down after running a global conflict-resolution organisation for the past nine-and-half years:
He said his decision had been prompted by his role since last October as co-chair of the Rudd Government’s Commission on Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament.
Given Gareth’s success on the conflict-resolution front, looks like it’s soon to be game over for nuclear proliferators. The Australian‘s report concludes, without comment:
Mr Evans is the second former senior politician to return to Australia from Europe recently, following former Democrats leader Cheryl Kernot’s decision to leave a position at the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurs at Oxford University to become an associate professor at the Centre for Social Impact at the University of NSW.
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Public told they hate Turnbull’s plan
Andrew Bolt
The Canberra press pack had a quick count of heads there and declared the public hates Malcolm Turnbull’s plan to block Kevin Rudd’s $42 billion spending spree.

Michelle Grattan, The Age:

(The Opposition) expects its stand to be immediately unpopular — getting between the public and buckets of money could hardly be anything else… Turnbull did not make a very convincing argument ...

Mark Colvin, AM:
You (the Liberals) are standing between a large section of the Australian middle class and a bucket of money. As you say, it’s not going to be popular.

Dennis Atkins, Courier Mail:

The Coalition’s hardline stand was cheered by the parties’ MPs, who saw it as getting the debate back to their “strong suit of economic management”. This may happen eventually but in the short-term they’ve dealt themselves out of the argument.

Tony Wright, The Age:

It brought to mind the image of the band playing uplifting tunes on the deck of the Titanic… (O)verwhelming approval and applause would likely be scarce in the streets for anyone attempting to deny the promised largesse.

Peter Hartcher, Sydney Morning Herald:

MALCOLM TURNBULL has decided to arrange himself casually on the railway tracks in front of the onrushing Rudd money train… It’s a bid for relevance on a point of irrelevance… At worst, it is an act of suicidal braggadocio.

Annabel Crabb describes the scenes in Parliament when her colleagues heard the news:

Commentators gasped. Ladies fainted. The weak of heart covered their eyes… Indeed, debate raged around Parliament House yesterday about the political implications of Tarzan’s (Turnbull’s) actions. Was he committing political suicide? Was this an incredibly beady-eyed act of political cynicism...?

Gee. Those were the only two options? That Turnbull was either a fool or an opportunist?

But much of the public seems, so far, to have failed to read the script written for it by the Canberra media.

The Herald Sun’s on-line poll has 53 per cent of more than 11,000 votes agreeing with Turnbull. The Australian poll has an already healthy 47 per cent of people saying he’s right to want to wait.
True, The Age poll is wildly against Turnbull, but if you believed all The Age wrote you’d think Rudd a saint and all who doubted him deserved hell.

UPDATE

Sunrise viewers back Turnbull by 70 per cent.

UPDATE 2

The Wall Street Journal Asia on Rudd’s package:

LOCAL governments will see $500 million to “support large strategic projects” including “town halls, community centres and sport and recreation facilities”. Presumably this is so all the newly unemployed can meet and reminisce about the times when they used to have jobs.
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Don’t criticise
Andrew Bolt
Sydney Peace Prize winner Arundhati Roy, the Indian novelist, has long demanded we back the Iraqi “resistance”:

The Iraqi resistance is fighting on the frontlines of the battle against Empire. And therefore that battle is our battle… Before we prescribe how a pristine Iraqi resistance must conduct their secular, feminist, democratic, nonviolent battle, we should shore up our end of the resistance by forcing the US and its allied governments to withdraw from Iraq.

So I guess Roy would be upset if we squeamishly refused to “shore up” a resistance that now failed to be quite as “feminist” as some might prefer:

A WOMAN accused of recruiting dozens of female suicide bombers in Iraq has told how she helped plan the rapes of victims before convincing them martyrdom was the only way to escape the shame.
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Bikies warn civilisation in decline
Andrew Bolt
Now even bikie gangs are complaining about a decline in manners:

But a source within one of the clubs says senior members are tiring of the feuding and are looking for ways to end it. The source says there’s a new breed of bikie joining the clubs, and these men don’t respect the same rules and traditions as the older generation of bikies.

UPDATE

I’m inclined to agree, when I read of the near daily mayhem in the streets outside my city office. From last night:

The initial assualt victim, 20, of Richmond was king hit and smacked his head on the pavement as he fell to the ground unconscious. The attackers then turned on the good Samaritans, one producing a knife and stabbing a Parkville man in the abdomen. The third man from Allens Flat was trapped against a tree as the men kicked and punched him.
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How PM badgered Bishop
Andrew Bolt
Let’s check the tone of Mark Colvin’s questions in his interview of shadow Treasurer Julie Bishop on the ABC’s PM yesterday, starting with the very first.

MARK COLVIN: ...Fair point isn’t it that you’re going to look like blockers, rather than improvers?

Establishes the Opposition’s appearance as the topic, not the stimulus package or the Coalition’s alternative. Negative assumption made.

MARK COLVIN: We’re not talking about $200 billion, we’re talking about $42 billion right here and your alternative is $15 billion?

Aggressive attempt at a gotcha.

MARK COLVIN: But I repeat, having a line of credit of $200 billion is not borrowing $200 billion. Let’s talk about the $42 billion. What’s wrong with it?

Gotcha. Now, moving on…

MARK COLVIN: You’re standing between a large section of the Australian middle class and a bucket of money. As you say, it’s not going to be popular.

Implied endorsement of Labor’s populist politics. Again, a negative assumption is made about Liberals’ popularity.

MARK COLVIN: How much worse would (unemployment) be without (Rudd’s package) has got to be one of the questions.

Devil’s advocate questioning, sure. But it’s shading into a defence of Rudd.

MARK COLVIN: The retail figures that came out today for December were up by 3.8 per cent, the biggest jump since the GST came in I think. Surely, that kept a lot of people in jobs didn’t it?

Question as statement. Positive assumption made - but in Labor’s favor. Where’s the evidence that jobs were saved? If that last package truly worked, the Government wouldn’t need this one.

MARK COLVIN: But clearly it did stimulate the economy to a degree. There was no pre-Christmas slump and as I say quite a lot of people kept their jobs as a result of that didn’t they?

Colvin’s Rudd-friendly assumption is now not some devil’s advocacy, but a flat-out assertion.

MARK COLVIN: But also…

Interruption.
MARK COLVIN: And lots of small businesses are going to get work from insulating people’s houses for instance aren’t they?

Hostile exaggeration. Lots of small businesses? Exactly home many home insulators are there in this country, then?

MARK COLVIN: Why would you oppose the big school rebuilding package?

Hostile assumption. Do the Liberals in fact oppose school rebuilding?
MARK COLVIN: But doesn’t that bring us back to my first question which was isn’t Bob Brown right, that rather than just flat out opposing it, you should be trying to amend it?

Appeal to authority. I mean, Bob Brown? Cited as a guru of compromise? Aggressive demand for answer, rather than request for explanation.

MARK COLVIN: What’s stimulus would be better? Are you talking about tax cuts and why are they better rather than for doctrinal reasons if you like?

Gratuitous and offensive suggestion that the Liberals oppose for “doctrinal” reasons - echoing and implicitly endorsing Labor’s attack.
MARK COLVIN: During the Liberal decade, under the Howard government, there were quite a lot of cash handouts weren’t there? Why is the policy changed?

Negative stereotyping. Exaggeration.

MARK COLVIN: But to be fair, there wasn’t a global financial crisis at that time, the world was...

Demand for fairness - to Labor.

MARK COLVIN: Finally, you may have done this for nought if the Senate, if the minor parties in the Senate let it through. You will have taken a very unpopular stance for nothing.

Negative characterisation. Assumption that stance is “very unpopular”. Focus on Liberals’ image, not on their policy’s merit - or lack of.

I’ve given you every one of Colvin’s questions. Detect a pattern?

So how does this compare with the questioning of Bishop’s Labor counterpart, Treasurer Wayne Swan, on the same subject? Swan has not been on PM for some time, so the closest comparison to make is with the questioning he got on PM’s sister program, AM, on the same day.
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