Ted Baillieu is seen as more trustworthy, less arrogant and more understanding of major issues and voter concerns than Premier John Brumby. The combatants in the November 27 Victorian election are neck and neck on likeability and vision for the state and Labor Premier Mr Brumby only trumps the Opposition Leader when it comes to perceptions of experience and decisiveness, Newspoll reveals. The issues-based Newspoll, conducted exclusively for The Australian, also examines voter perceptions on which party can handle crucial election issues such as transport, law and order and the economy, finding a dramatic turnaround for the Liberals since the 2006 election.
The OECD has urged the Gillard government to slow down the rollout of its $43 billion high-speed broadband network. It has warned that the project is installing a public monopoly that could choke off the development of better internet technologies. The Paris-based Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development has declared that a more gradual approach would allow a better assessment of the costs and potential benefits associated with the National Broadband Network.
The Liberals' bombshell decision on preferences changes everything. First, the Greens, instead of storming the lower house as they had hoped, now face the prospect of winning no seats in the house of power. Second, Labor, instead of attacking the Liberals and the Greens on the basis that they were allegedly doing an unlikely preferences deal, will now have to explain why the ALP is the party that has done a deal with the demonised minor party. Third, the Coalition, instead of continuing to agonise about what to do about Greens preferences, will now be united behind Ted Baillieu's leadership.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard will press ahead with plans for a price on carbon pollution despite stark signs that the global campaign is stalling. Ms Gillard yesterday acknowledged a major climate change conference in Cancun, Mexico, next month would not attempt to co-ordinate an international move towards a carbon price. She also said mid-term election setbacks for President Barack Obama meant the US would not be introducing its own scheme. She will fly into Canberra from Japan early this morning to attend Parliament and to help Treasurer Wayne Swan draw up measures to increase competition against big banks.
The Liberal Party has dramatically reshaped the state election contest by deciding not to preference the Greens in the inner city. State secretary Tony Nutt last night announced his party would put the Greens last in all 88 lower house seats and the eight upper house seats, reversing the long-held policy of putting Labor last. This shock decision means the Greens are unlikely to win all four inner-city seats from Labor, instead perhaps winning only the seat of Melbourne. If Labor retains Melbourne, along with Brunswick, Richmond and Northcote, it would make the Coalition's job of winning the 13 additional seats it needs to secure government far more difficult.
Labor's hopes of countering last week's High Court decision granting asylum-seekers greater appeal rights looks doomed. The Coalition is almost certain to oppose any legislation proposed by the Gillard government. In a political strategy identical to the one adopted by the Greens on the emissions trading scheme, the Coalition is gearing up to block any legislative fixes introduced into the lower house on the grounds they won't go far enough. Opposition spokesman for immigration Scott Morrison said the government must produce a "broader" response to last week's ruling if it expected Coalition support.
A preference fling involving both major parties could see the Sex Party win its first seat in state Parliament. Sex Party leader Fiona Patten was tongue-in-cheek as to why Labor, the Liberals and the Greens were directing their preferences towards her. "We're not monogamous," Ms Patten said. Thanks to the proportional representation electoral systems for Upper House seats, Ms Patten could be elected even with a small percentage of the vote.
Left-leaning lobby group GetUp! failed in its handling of a $1.12 million donation from a union during the federal election campaign, according to independent senator Nick Xenophon, who wants urgent reform to political donations. The donation from the Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union was the biggest yet for the activist group and was used to fund airtime for an ad run during the campaign attacking Tony Abbott's "archaic" views on woman and indigenous issues. Opposition leader in the senate Eric Abetz said taking the money was "breathless hypocrisy" because GetUp! had accepted the very type of donation it wants banned.
Illegal brothels are flourishing across the state - and no one is doing a thing about it. Experts believe there are at least 500 undercover sex shops across NSW, outstripping legal brothels by at least two to one. But figures from the Government's Interagency Brothels Taskforce show just 29 "brothel closure orders" were issued on illegal sex premises between July 2007 and March 2010. Legitimate operations are even closing their doors, saying they can no longer compete.
A week after the moderate right faction of the NSW Liberal Party lost its bid for the safe seat of Castle Hill, it has been rewarded with wins in two other safe seats - Cronulla and Hornsby - in preselection battles at the weekend. In Cronulla, the party selected the barrister Mark Speakman, beating off the former state and federal MP Stephen Mutch. The two were tied in the first ballot, but Mr Speakman won 82 votes to Mr Mutch's 74 in the second ballot. On Saturday in Hornsby Matt Kean won preselection overwhelmingly after Nick Berman withdrew last week. Mr Berman will stand as an independent after factional infighting saw him quit the party. Mr Kean won the ballot 74 to seven.
Attitudes towards gays have become much more liberal at a national level but anti-gay sentiment remains entrenched in politically sensitive areas such as Sydney's west and south-west, pockets of Melbourne's south-east and in regional Queensland. With Parliament to start debating a Greens' motion on same-sex marriage today, an electorate-by-electorate analysis shows sharp differences of opinion around the country, which will fuel divisions inside the Labor Party on the issue. Roy Morgan Research survey data shows areas with the most positive attitudes towards gays include inner-city electorates such as the Infrastructure Minister Anthony Albanese's Grayndler in Sydney's inner-west and affluent Liberal seats in Sydney, such as Wentworth and North Sydney, as well as Melbourne's Kooyong and Higgins.
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