The Burke Report

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

And I thought I had it tough, roughing it for a week without internet, only able to access Facebook and Twitter via the tiny screen of my humble smartphone. In a week that’s been marred by violent anti-government protests over police brutality, state of emergency laws, unemployment and living conditions among other issues, seven people have died in Egypt, although reports are sketchy due to censorship. Just hours before the biggest planned protest, the entire nation went offline.

Back home, we were lucky enough to celebrate our nation’s freedom on Australia day and be a bit charitable while at it. Awards ceremonies, wife carrying races, pig races (at my local pub) and of course many BBQs were held to the tune of Triple J where the Hottest 100 countdown concluded with a patriotic climax: Aussie brother and sister duo Angus and Julia Stone taking out the top spot. Offering up more than just a few snags and stubbies, BBQs were monetized this year and significant donations made to various flood relief appeals while Angus and Julia themselves took to the stage in aid of the Premier's Flood Relief.

But, of course, what was raked in from raffle tickets, sausage sales, gold coin donations and pig-betting profits were never going to be enough to cover the costs. The Government has proposed a new tax. The Flood Levy, already being greeted with controversy, will help recover a nation still in the grip of “a natural disaster of unprecedented economic proportions,” Prime Minister Julia Gillard told ABC Radio AM this morning. While low-income earners and flood victims are exempt from contributing to the levy, from July, most Australians will pay between $1 and $5 a week in extra income tax, lasting 12 months.

Today, Gillard has been doing the radio rounds putting on the hard sell to get this levy off the ground, and will spend the coming days convincing the Greens and independents. While parliament doesn’t resume until the second week of February, there has already been an outcry of protest from the opposition.

Outspoken as usual, Joe Hockey has protested saying “you don’t go ask people to donate time and money generously, then go and hit the same people with a new tax.”

Many are keen to scrap the NBN in favour of allocating those funds to flood recovery, Senator Barnaby Joyce among them.

“It just doesn’t work when they tell people they need to pay a levy whilst they bung the coins through the NBN poker machine... What’s more important – downloading movies on the information superhighway or getting food supplies through the national highway?” he said.

The Queensland Government has ruled out a state tax to fund recovery. The Federal and State governments are going a 75/25 split, Queensland undergoing a budget review taking a significant hit from the unprecedented expenses of the floods, expecting to nudge the state into the red with a cost of $1.5 billion. At the same time, Wayne Swan today announced a $10 million campaign to promote non-flood-affected part of Queensland as a holiday destination to Australians. The state and federal governments are going Dutch on this one.

Reinforcing that there is life news outside of Queensland, the Tasmanian state government has also had a bit of a shake up this week. Labor’s Lara Giddings took up her position as the state’s first female premier after her predecessor David Bartlett left his post to spend more time with family. Of course, the first thing we’ve learnt about Lara, as she steps on to the national stage, is that she’s a single lady.

In response to The Australian’s “backhanded” front page story “Leftist Lara still looking for Mr Right”, former ALP MP Cheryl Kernot told Crikey “It surprised me that it's still happening in 2011. How far have we come from Joan Kirner and the polka dot dress when the first thing they want to talk about is that she’s looking for Mr Right? Have we asked any men that recently? I don’t think so."

Men’s tennis champions have been suffering this week, favourites Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer both out of the Australian Open final, which will see third seed Novak Djokovic take on the winner of tonight’s semi-final between Briton Andy Murray and Spanish star David Ferrer.

In entertainment news, Oscar nominations have been handed out, with all the Aussie favourites being recognised. Nicole Kidman scored a nod for her leading role in Rabbit Hole, Geoffrey Rush for his supporting role in The King’s Speech and Jacki Weaver for her supporting role in Animal Kingdom. The Social Network has taken a whopping eight nominations, including one for Australian Kirk Baxter for best film editing.

The celebrity world has also seen a few mishaps this week with Jimmy Buffett, who took a nasty fall from a Sydney stage, and the ridiculously highly paid Charlie Sheen, who was complaining about
abdominal pains, each being rushed to hospital, giving ailing amputee Zsa Zsa Gabor a week off from the headlines.

Buffett’s break also gave Nine’s Richard Wilkins another opportunity to shine with his now famous celebrity mix-ups, accidentally declaring the incident “terrific” instead of horrific. Oops. As noted on mUmBRELLA, at least he didn’t announce he was dead this time.

Liz @ Girl With a Satchel


Adelaide Dupont said...

Hello Liz!

Girl with a Satchel readers who love the theatre may or may not have heard of Theatre Aid, which comes from the Arts Centre in Melbourne.

It will be on Valentine's Day on the 14th February in the Melbourne Recital Centre.

And it will be hosted by Rob Mills and Virginia Gay. Involved will be many members of the musical theatre community like Silvie Paladino.

Information about Theatre Aid. Tickets on sale 31st January

Bec said...

Really great summary, Liz!