The Burke Report

Liz Burke rounds out the week in news and current affairs...

Being bound in a rolling-coverage filled news bubble girt by flood water for several days at the beginning of this week, it was difficult to comprehend there was anything going on outside of Queensland. As my Optus broadband was reconnected, and so too was I to the rest of the world, turns out, there was actually a fair bit happening.

While the worst might be over for the Bligh-led battlers north of the border, further south, residents of Victoria are still copping it. Two-thousand homes have been impacted by unprecedented record flooding and those in the state’s west are still busily sandbagging. It’s predicted the flood emergency could continue for up to another ten days.

With damage caused to homes, industry, and infrastructure in both states, obviously coming with a hefty price tag, generous donations are coming in from all over the world.

The QLD Premier’s Flood Appeal has now well and truly topped the $100 million mark. Fundraisers like Baked Relief and BBQ for Floods are being organised nationwide and community spirit and a catching sense of comradery is coming out as thousands of volunteers are getting their hands dirty in the clean-up and preparing sandwiches and sizzling sausages to support helpers and victims.

But clearly, we can’t all just get along; the pollies need something to argue over. The current debate? How to scrape together enough cash to foot the damages bill. While the Prime Minister is not ruling out implementing a one-off tax-funded flood levy to aid in the rebuilding of Queensland and returning the budget to surplus by 2012-13, the Opposition has attacked the prospect, Tony Abbott saying there’s a right and a wrong way to find that money.

Perhaps an injection of tourism dollars will help, thanks to the first installments of Oprah’s Ultimate Australian Adventure shows, which aired this week drawing an audience of about 12 million Australian and US viewers. She even managed to edit in a shout-out to those affected by the floods and is drumming up support for the Premier’s Flood Appeal along with Jamie Oliver, Justin Beiber and a host of other celebs spreading news of the cause via Twitter.

Awards season is well and truly underway with the Golden Globes and Satchel Awards kicking it off this week. While Ricky Gervais' controversial hosting job has many looking forward to Anne Hathaway and James Franco’s performance at the upcoming Oscars, the Aussie contingent may not be so psyched. New mum Nicole Kidman, screen mum Jacki Weaver, and father of Australian cinema Geoffrey Rush being snubbed in the Globes has predictably seen their award hopes dashed.

It may not be an Oscar contender, but a new film project is certainly getting talked about. Sacha Baron Cohen, of Bruno and Borat fame, is to star in The Dictator, a film loosely based on a book believed to be written by former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein. With a team of Seinfeld writers recruited to pen the script, The Dictator will tell “the heroic story of a dictator who risked his life to ensure that democracy would never come to the country he so lovingly oppressed”.

The Australian Open is giving more hope to Aussies as homegrown hopefuls Samantha Stosur and Bernard Tomic make their way to the third round of the tennis grand slam, which also, as always, is providing some great entertainment and speculation in on-court fashion.

Venus Williams has whipped out her famous nude shorts again, which last year had everyone wondering if she was going commando, and other female tennis stars are getting more attention for their choice in accessories and mini-dress details than their serve speeds and backhands.

In other news, sharks wouldn’t have an issue with Wiliams’ bum shorts or Petrova’s bright blue dip-dyed mini dress: Australian scientists have discovered they are colourblind.

Liz @ Girl With a Satchel