To paraphrase Labor’s campaign slogan in 1972, it’s only a matter of time. Politically, Julia Gillard is a dead woman walking. The Prime Minister may dismiss the latest polls, but the trend is clear. With a trio of polls all pointing in the same direction, they spell her certain demise.
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If it doesn’t happen at the hands of her colleagues, it will happen at the hands of the Australian electors in September. Her colleagues may talk of it being a communication problem, but it’s much more than that. The Prime Minister is too low in the esteem of Australian voters to survive. Even her advantage over Tony Abbott among women voters has been eroded away.

Some Australians might admire her steely strength and her negotiating skills, but her propensity for political stumbles have seen her repeatedly fall flat on her face. The September election date and the resignation of Nicola Roxon and Chris Evans were just the latest of them.

More importantly, she has provided no clear direction as to where she is leading the country. As Paul Keating might say, the ”vision thing” is missing. This has not been entirely her fault. As leader of a minority government, she has had to spend more time managing the bilge pumps and less time on the bridge. She knows how to steer but not where to steer.

The dominating issue of her government has been the carbon price. Although she was steadfast in her implementation of it, she did not convince Australians that she was personally committed to cutting carbon emissions. It wasn’t helped by stories of her having argued against the implementation of a carbon price when Kevin Rudd was prime minister. Nor was it helped by the measure only being introduced because of an electoral deal with the Greens.

With the carbon price in place, the government should be earning kudos from the many Australians who care about the environment and are concerned about human-induced climate change. But the carbon price is more than offset politically by the government’s uncritical support for the coal and the coal seam gas industries.

And the contradictions don’t end there. When in opposition, Julia Gillard attacked the Howard government for its heartless, punitive policy towards asylum seekers, but then introduced much more punitive policies herself. What does she really believe on this issue? As on so many other things, the electorate has been left wondering. Apart from the harm and the cost, it’s not calculated to impress the voters in either trendy Balmain or western Sydney.

The Prime Minister has also disappointed many Australians with a foreign policy that is not discernibly different from that of John Howard. She kept the troops in Afghanistan and has thrown Australia open to American bases. She has rejected another referendum on the republic and keeps the portrait of the Queen at naturalisation ceremonies.

The only policy on which she has showed any passion has been education. And that was personal. She’d got ahead because of a good government school in Adelaide and wanted to improve the education system so that others could follow in her footsteps. Then, after commissioning the Gonski report, which showed how those improvements could be achieved, she has shrunk from implementing them.

On the question of jobs, the Prime Minister has left the running to Tony Abbott. Almost every night last year he appeared on the television news alongside workers in a factory or a shop bemoaning the policies of the Labor government and promising to create more jobs. Although his proposed sacking of public servants and harsher industrial relations policies would not be good for workers, Julia Gillard has not shown sufficient commitment to protect Australian workers. She seems content to have unemployment at about 5 per cent, to have about 15 per cent of school-leavers without a job and to punish unemployed workers with an unfair Newstart Allowance.

Indeed, despite the barbs about Rudd’s background, Julia Gillard has turned out to be less of a Labor leader than her predecessor. And on some limited measures relating to family allowances and foreign policy even less of a Labor leader than her Liberal predecessor, John Howard.

For the first 18 months or so, she rarely mentioned the fact that she was leading a Labor government and was pushing progressive policies because that’s what a Labor government does.

Her admirers like to tell us that in private the Prime Minister is warm and funny and kind to her staff. But few get the opportunity to see that side. Although it certainly helps, electors don’t have to like a politician to vote for them. However, they do have to feel that the Prime Minister cares about their welfare and they need a clear sense of the direction in which the PM is leading the country.

Kevin Rudd is in a sweet place. He has been humiliated twice by Julia Gillard and his caucus colleagues, once when he was swiftly deposed and again last February when he was forced to bring on a challenge before he had secured the numbers.

Now he can wait for the knock on the door if caucus forces the Prime Minister to go. Or he can wait for the bitter-sweet satisfaction that will come when Julia Gillard leads Labor to a humiliating defeat.

David Day is an honorary associate at La Trobe University and has written biographies of three Labor prime ministers. He is currently writing a biography of Paul Keating.

Photo: ALEX ELLINGHAUSEN


Source: The Standard, The Courier
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Residents in the south-west Victorian district of Dunkeldwere on edge last night as three bushfires merged to create a huge front heading south towards the town.

Main tourist routes into the southern portion of the Grampians were closed and by late in the afternoon the fire front had reached the Victoria Valley Road, less than 30 kilometres from Dunkeld.

Aseparatefire came close to Melbourne’s outer northern suburbs, destroying one home.

VIDEO:Chris Chambers prepared this time lapse video of the smoke plume from a fire north of Melbourneas seen from the 11th floor of the Bureau of Meteorology yesterday.

About 300 firefighters using dozens of vehicles and 14 aircraft were battling to control the Grampians blazes,fanned by a strong north-westerly wind ahead of a south-westerly change expected late last night.

Earlier in the day, emergency alerts were issued for residents of Mirranatwa and Victoria Valley as thick smoke from two large fronts blanketed their homes and temperatures hovered in the high 30s.

By 5pm, those blazes had merged with a third and spot fires were breaking out a kilometre ahead of the main front.

It was estimated at 3260 hectares in size.

However, firefighters from the CFA and government departments managed to save buildings and livestock in its path.

The fire emergency has had little impact on tourism in the area, with operators sayingbusiness is strong despite more than 25 fires burning nearby for more than a week.

The majority of business owners contacted by Fairfax Regional Media said there had been no decline in visitor numbers, and cited the jazz festival two weekends ago and the ‘show and shine’event last weekend as the reason for the steady number of tourists.

Grampians Tourism CEO Will Flamsteed said the response from tourism operators in the region had been positive.

“We’ve yet to have any reports from tourist operators that the fires have had a negative effect on business,” Mr Flamsteed said.

“The actual fires aren’t too close to tourism hot spots, and the last couple of weeks have actually been very busy thanks to the jazz festival and the car show at the weekend.”

Caravan parks in the region reported high tourist numbers, with the Halls Gap Caravan Park and Big 4 Parkgate Resort saying they were fully booked for the last two weekends.

Owner of Baroka Downs Bob Adams said business at his luxury accommodation venue in Halls Gap remained steady during what was generally a quiet time of the year.

“We haven’t had anyone cancel bookings and I think the popularity of recent events has ensured we’ve remained busy,” Mr Adams said.

One tourist operator disagreed with claims that tourism was “business as usual.”

The Mountain Grand Hotel owner Don Calvert said although tourist operators in the Grampians would like people to believe everything was normal, it wasn’t the case.

Smoke haze from the Grampians drifted south to Warrnambool. Picture: LYNTON BROWN

The Grampians-Victoria Valley Complex. PICTURES: WAYNE RIGG, CFA OPERATIONS OFFICER.

The Grampians-Victoria Valley Complex. PICTURES: WAYNE RIGG, CFA OPERATIONS OFFICER.

The Grampians-Victoria Valley Complex. PICTURES: WAYNE RIGG, CFA OPERATIONS OFFICER.

The Grampians-Victoria Valley Complex. PICTURES: WAYNE RIGG, CFA OPERATIONS OFFICER.

The Grampians-Victoria Valley Complex. PICTURES: WAYNE RIGG, CFA OPERATIONS OFFICER.

The Grampians-Victoria Valley Complex. PICTURES: WAYNE RIGG, CFA OPERATIONS OFFICER.

“Numbers are definitely down due to the fires, and you can notice that all around town,” Mr Calvert said.

“Anyone who says anything different isn’t being entirely honest.”

The Age reader Bijal Palmer snapped this photo from his home at Lyndarum Estate. Photo: Supplied

A water bomber fights the Epping grassfire. Photo: Jason South

The grassfire rages at Epping as a water bomber flies overhead. Photo: Joe Armao

A helicopter water bombs the grassfire. Photo: Jason South

A man and woman embrace as they meet on Craigieburn Road while waiting to get back to their homes, which had been blocked off by the grassfire. Photo: Jason South

The grassfire rages at Epping. Photo: Joe Armao

Firefighters battle the grassfire at Epping. Photo: Joe Armao

The Age reader Jacqui T snapped this photo in Lyndarum Drive, Epping about 4pm yesterday. Photo: Supplied

Smoke rises above houses as a reader drives down High Street in Epping about 4pm in this image supplied by The Age reader Tanya. Photo: Supplied

The Age reader Jacqui T took this image of the aftermath of the fire at Lyndarum at 7pm on Monday.

The Age reader Lennon Rowe sent in this image. Photo: Supplied

The Age reader Max Garner sent us this image of the Epping grassfire. Photo: Supplied

The Age reader Geoff England took this image from his home in Lyndarum Estate, Epping North yesterday afternoon. Photo: Supplied

The Age reader Iain Bargess-Peters sent us this image, taken near Houston Street, Epping. Photo: Supplied


Movement … Microsoft’s Durango is said to focus on the Kinect sensor. Next generation … the successor to the PlayStation 3, pictured, is code-named Orbis.
苏州美甲美睫培训

Amid strong challenges from mobile gaming on phones and tablets, and with the spectre of Nintendo’s Wii U launch late last year, Sony and Microsoft are preparing to announce their next generation console systems, with Sony expected to make an announcement on February 20.

It is believed that Sony’s next PlayStation is internally code-named “Orbis”, while Microsoft’s next Xbox is called “Durango” behind closed doors.

Online reports suggest that Orbis will mark a departure from Sony’s own Cell architecture to use a processor based around AMD’s Jaguar technology; more specifically it is rumoured to feature an eight-core 1.66GHz AMD processor with 4GB of RAM.

Meanwhile, Microsoft’s Durango project is rumoured to contain similar internals; an AMD 1.66GHz eight-core processor with 8GB of RAM. Both systems will feature onboard storage and, keeping with the strategy of being more than games console systems, will feature other entertainment options. It is suggested that the next Xbox will feature a Blu-ray drive, in contrast to the Xbox 360’s failed HD-DVD drive add-on.

What that does mean, not surprisingly, is that the next generation of consoles will be more powerful than their predecessors; website Eurogamer had Digital Foundry run through the purported specifications of both systems, with the suggestion that Sony’s use of faster memory – even though there’s less of it – may give it a slight advantage, offset against how difficult it is to program for the new machines.

Microsoft’s Durango is said to more heavily focus on the company’s Kinect sensor, with a sensor built into every console; according to website Kotaku, it’ll be capable of detecting how many people are watching a piece of content, and reacting if licence commitments aren’t met. Sony, meanwhile, has kept Orbis largely secret in terms of capabilities, although a leak last week suggested that the next generation PlayStation controller may feature a built-in microphone and touchscreen display.

Digital delivery and online media are key to both Sony and Microsoft’s plans, with consistent reports that suggest they may require online access and block second-hand game sales by tying an individual games disc to a single console. Orbis will reportedly allow users to play games streamed over the internet as well as via digital download and physical discs.

According to Australian developer Nic Watt of Nnooo, this represents an evolution of what’s already happening with digital games delivery on mobile platforms.

“We’re moving towards the digital future; you can see that with the iPad or iPhone, where retailers don’t get a cut of any of that … but I don’t see too many people complaining about that on iPhones or iPads,” Watt said.

He hopes, however, that any digital locking system would allow some flexibility.

“I’d like to think that’d it be more like a licence system as it is with Steam; you can log into any PC in the world with your account and access your games,” he said.

Marketing director of EB Games, Shane Stockwell, is not so sold on the rumours surrounding a second-hand lockout.

“If I was concerned by everything I read on the internet, I’d probably have lost my hair a long time ago,” he told Fairfax Media.

“I’ve learnt to take it with a grain of salt. That’s all rumour; there’s nothing to say otherwise; I think it would be a strange move from two major corporations to cut off a business avenue in pre-owned games.”

It’s not yet clear if the new systems will support backwards compatibility, although Stockwell doesn’t see that as much of a real benefit to gamers in any case.

“From a business perspective, it’s a great marketing asset, that you can play existing games you have. But what happens is that consumers take their old games, bring them into our stores to trade them in so they can afford to buy the new thing,” he said.

Stockwell remains upbeat about the sales potential for new consols, despite figures from market advisory service NPD Group that show a decline of 10.6 per cent in high-definition console sales in 2012.

Stockwell’s perspective is that EB Games has seen sales spikes with “every other console life cycle, so I don’t see any reason why it won’t happen this time around”.

The Australian games development scene has shrunk markedly over this current console cycle, and Nnooo’s Watt doesn’t see a great deal of optimism for local independent developers when it comes to new hardware and employment opportunities.

“Independent games are obviously flavour of the month, and some developers are doing well with their titles,” he said.

“More often than not with these hardware manufacturers, it’s more playing lip service and getting the cool cachet that comes from that.”

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Steelmaker and mining products group Arrium has posted a heavy $445.4 million loss for the December half, significantly worse than the $70.7 million loss posted a year earlier in the wake of the heavy write-down of assets.
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Revenue fell to $3.32 billion from $3.55 billion.

Last week the group wrote-down the value of assets by $474 million which weighed heavily on today’s results.

Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) rose to $230 million from $196 million a year earlier, benefiting from the group’s exposure to mining products in particular.

The result at this level was significantly ahead of some analyst expectations of an EBITDA profit of the order of $170 million.

While pointing to the strong performance of its iron ore mining and the mining products divisions, Arrium  noted the “significant improvement” in its steel business despite the ongoing weakness in the global steel market.

The solid figures from Arrium followed the pretax loss of $12 million reported yesterday by Bluescope Steel, which also pointed to the prospects for a significant rebound in earnings from now.

Arrium, the former OneSteel, said the steel division will remain under pressure through the rest of the financial year, amid generally weak demand and soft product prices.

However, the mining products unit will continue to perform well, it said, while the mining division will benefit from the ongoing recovery in iron ore prices.

The company refrained from providing any specific earnings guidance, although it said it did expect earnings to be skewed towards the second half.

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Joel Parkinson. Picture: Simone De Peak Joel Parkinson. Picture: Simone De Peak
苏州美甲美睫培训

Joel Parkinson. Picture: Simone De Peak

Joel Parkinson. Picture: Simone De Peak

Stephanie Gilmore. Picture: Darren Pateman

Sally Fitzgibbons with the helicopter cam. Picture: Simone De Peak

Sally Fitzgibbons with the helicopter cam. Picture: Simone De Peak

Stephanie Gilmore. Picture: Darren Pateman

Stephanie Gilmore. Picture: Darren Pateman

Dimity Stoyle. Picture: Darren Pateman

Sarah Phelan. Picture: Darren Pateman

Jake Sylvester. Picture submitted by Stewart Hazell

GALLERY: Surfest 2013 – Photographs by the Herald’sJonathan Carroll andGrant Sproule.

SURFEST 2013: Picture by Jonathan Carroll

SURFEST 2013 – Picture by Grant Sproule

SURFEST 2013 – Picture by Grant Sproule

SURFEST 2013 – Picture by Grant Sproule

SURFEST 2013 – Picture by Grant Sproule

SURFEST 2013 – Picture by Grant Sproule

SURFEST 2013 – Picture by Grant Sproule

SURFEST 2013 – Picture by Grant Sproule

SURFEST 2013 – Picture by Grant Sproule

SURFEST 2013 – Picture by Grant Sproule

SURFEST 2013 – Picture by Grant Sproule

SURFEST 2013 – Picture by Grant Sproule

SURFEST 2013 – Picture by Grant Sproule

SURFEST 2013 – Picture by Grant Sproule

SURFEST 2013: Picture by Jonathan Carroll

SURFEST 2013: Picture by Jonathan Carroll

SURFEST 2013: Picture by Jonathan Carroll

SURFEST 2013: Picture by Jonathan Carroll

SURFEST 2013: Picture by Jonathan Carroll

SURFEST 2013: Picture by Jonathan Carroll

SURFEST 2013: Picture by Jonathan Carroll

SURFEST 2013: Picture by Jonathan Carroll

SURFEST 2013: Picture by Jonathan Carroll

SURFEST 2013: Picture by Jonathan Carroll

SURFEST 2013: Picture by Jonathan Carroll

SURFEST 2013: Picture by Jonathan Carroll

SURFEST 2013: Picture by Jonathan Carroll

SURFEST 2013: Picture by Jonathan Carroll

SURFEST 2013: Picture by Jonathan Carroll

SURFEST 2013: Picture by Jonathan Carroll

SURFEST 2013: Picture by Jonathan Carroll

SURFEST 2013: Picture by Jonathan Carroll

SURFEST 2013: Picture by Jonathan Carroll

SURFEST 2013: Picture by Jonathan Carroll

SURFEST 2013: Picture by Jonathan Carroll

SURFEST 2013: Picture by Jonathan Carroll

SURFEST 2013: Picture by Jonathan Carroll

SURFEST 2013: Picture by Jonathan Carroll

SURFEST 2013: Picture by Jonathan Carroll

SURFEST 2013: Picture by Jonathan Carroll

SURFEST 2013: Picture by Jonathan Carroll

SURFEST 2013: Picture by Jonathan Carroll

SURFEST 2013: Picture by Jonathan Carroll

SURFEST 2013: Picture by Jonathan Carroll

SURFEST 2013: Picture by Jonathan Carroll

SURFEST 2013: Picture by Jonathan Carroll

SURFEST 2013: Picture by Jonathan Carroll

SURFEST 2013: Picture by Jonathan Carroll

Stephanie Gilmore. Picture: Darren Pateman

SURFEST 2013: Picture by Jonathan Carroll

SURFEST 2013: Picture by Jonathan Carroll

SURFEST 2013: Picture by Jonathan Carroll

Are you at the event? Do you have any pictures you’d like to share? Please send them to [email protected]苏州美甲美睫培训.au

Lakey Peterson. Picture: Darren Pateman

Stephanie Gilmore. Picture: Darren Pateman

Phillipa Anderson. Picture: Darren Pateman

Sophia Mulanovich. Picture: Darren Pateman

Stephanie Gilmore. Picture: Darren Pateman

Helicopter cam at Merewether beach. Picture: Darren Pateman

Helicopter cam at Merewether beach. Picture: Darren Pateman

Sally Fitzgibbons. Picture: Darren Pateman

Sally Fitzgibbons. Picture: Darren Pateman

Sally Fitzgibbons. Picture: Darren Pateman

Joel Parkinson. Picture: Darren Pateman

Joel Parkinson. Picture: Darren Pateman

Stephanie Gilmore. Picture: Darren Pateman

Joel Parkinson and Stephanie Gilmore. Picture: Darren Pateman

Sage Erickson of US. Picture: Darren Pateman

Alize Arnaud of France. Picture: Darren Pateman

Alize Arnaud of France. Picture: Darren Pateman

Wade Carmichael. Picture: Simone De Peak

Matt Lewis Hewitt. Picture: Simone De Peak