Maybe I should have posted this in 'Is this end for News Ltd' because all this seems symptomatic of some weird **** happening internally in that organisation.
Gillard won’t confirm US troop reports
November 12, 2011 - 1:08PM/the AGE
Prime Minister Julia Gillard is refusing to confirm whether she and US President Barack Obama will announce a boost in America’s military presence in Australia when he visits next week.
Mr Obama will travel to Canberra and Darwin during his first presidential visit on November 16 and 17.
The leaders are reportedly set to announce an increased US military presence in northern Australia.
Responding to the reports for the first time, Ms Gillard would not say whether they were true.
‘‘We will have a wide set of discussions when President Obama comes to Australia,’’ she told reporters in Hawaii, which she is visiting for the upcoming APEC leaders’ summit.
‘‘On any specifics of what I may announce with President Obama when he’s in Australia, we’ll leave that to when we’re in Australia.’’
Asked how the Chinese might react to such an announcement, Ms Gillard said, ‘‘We’ve been an ally of the US for 60 years. We’ve been friends for a lot longer.
‘‘It’s not going to surprise anybody in China that Australia is an ally of the United States.’’ ....<cont>
Brown wants debate on rumoured US expansion
Posted November 12, 2011 16:18:55/ABC News
Australian Greens leader Bob Brown wants the Federal Parliament to debate the prospect of the United States expanding its military presence in Australia.
The White House has refused to confirm reports a deal has been made increasing American access to Australian army bases.
There is speculation an announcement may be made when the US president Barack Obama visits Darwin next week.
The reports say Australia and the US have been working on plans for increased cooperation, including bringing in more US troops to strategic areas including Darwin, as well as increasing the number of joint exercises and training.
Senator Brown says the Australian Parliament has an obligation to debate the pros and cons.
"We are putting a clear point of view that Parliament should debate new foreign troop placements in Australia, whether they be in Darwin or Western Australia or anywhere else and that of course is responsible democracy," he said.
But the Prime Minister Julia Gillard has refused to be drawn on the reports. ...<cont>
PM surges in poll, but Labor still trails badly
November 14, 2011/the AGE
PRIME Minister Julia Gillard's approval rating has jumped by six points and Labor has narrowed the Coalition's two-party lead in the Age/Nielsen poll.
Ms Gillard has also drawn level with Tony Abbott as preferred prime minister for the first time since June, continuing the recent better trend for the government and providing heart to its MPs.
But Labor's primary vote remains on an abysmal 30 per cent, and the Coalition would easily win an election held now.
Julia Gillard speaks at the National Press Club in Canberra yesterday.
The opposition leads 55 per cent on the two-party vote, down 2 points since October, to Labor's 45 per cent (up 2). This continues a steady improvement by Labor from its lowest point of 39-61 in July. The Coalition's primary vote is down 3 points to 45 per cent. After the carbon tax legislation was passed in Parliament last week, the Greens' vote has risen 2 points to 14 per cent.
The poll of 1400 people taken between Thursday and Saturday has also brought the government good news on its proposed mining tax, with 53 per cent saying they support it and only 38 per cent opposing it. Mr Abbott has vowed to repeal the tax.
But, in a more surprising result, 46 per cent disapproved of how Ms Gillard handled the Qantas dispute, while only 40 per cent approved.
Ms Gillard's return to the industrial debate has generally been seen as a political plus. People were critical of Qantas (60 per cent disapproved of the airline's grounding) and 49 per cent of people disapproved of the unions' industrial action.
Approval of the way Ms Gillard is doing her job is up 6 points to 39 per cent, and her disapproval rating is down 5 to 57 per cent. Her net approval (approval minus disapproval) is at minus 18 per cent - an 11-point improvement in a month.
Mr Abbott's approval rating is steady on 41 per cent; his disapproval is 54 per cent, also steady, as is his net approval of minus 13 per cent. That equals his lowest net approval and highest disapproval since he became leader.
Mr Abbott, who was out of the country last week and has come under increasing criticism recently, is down 3 points as preferred PM to 45 per cent. Ms Gillard is up 1 point to equal him. This follows several months when Ms Gillard trailed as preferred PM - they were tied on 46 per cent in June.
In Victoria, Labor's two-party vote - 47-53 per cent - is better than the national average but the primary vote (29 per cent) is marginally worse. The Greens are on 16 per cent in Victoria.
On the mining tax, seven in 10 Labor voters and 76 per cent of Green voters were in favour of the 30 per cent profits-based tax on large iron ore and coal mining companies. But only 35 per cent of Coalition voters favoured it and 57 per cent opposed.
When people were asked in May last year whether they supported a tax on the ''super profits'' of mining companies, 44 per cent were in favour and 47 per cent were opposed.
The current proposed tax is least popular in the mining state of Western Australia, where 42 per cent back it and 49 per cent oppose. In all other states, support outweighs opposition.
The poll results come as Ms Gillard prepares to welcome US President Barack Obama for a two-day visit this week, and after Asia Pacific leaders paved the way for a nine-nation free trade zone, including Australia, that would well outmuscle the economies of the European Union.
The leaders of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum hailed the free trade agenda of the world's fastest growing region at their weekend summit in Honolulu.
Ms Gillard said she was delighted with progress on the nine-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership.
....when you have on the record former liberal colleagues say Tony is a financial numbskull, well it's starting to bite.
George Megalogenis on Insiders was very interesting yesterday (as always).
He hates poll-driven commentary - a pointless exercise in the first 18 months after an election to his way of thinking
The govt insider gossip was that the 'leaks' were manufactured to taint the process so the govt could kill the process - which only started because K Rudd want to cozy up to News Ltd while in power.
When the Australian starts writing editorials about Tony's fiscal black hole, maybe then I'll believe we're near fair and balanced coverage.
PM changes mind on uranium sales to India
Updated November 15, 2011 13:33:41/ABC news
Julia Gillard and Manmohan Singh Photo: Strengthening ties: Julia Gillard with Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh (AFP: M. Asokan)
Prime Minister Julia Gillard has set the stage for a showdown with her party's Left at Labor's national conference by back-flipping on the ALP's opposition to selling uranium to India.
In an opinion piece published in Fairfax newspapers this morning, Ms Gillard argues the move would strengthen Australia's relations with India, which possesses nuclear weapons but is not a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
She says selling uranium to India for peaceful purposes will broaden Australian markets and increase jobs.
"We must, of course, expect of India the same standards we do of all countries for uranium export - strict adherence to International Atomic Energy Agency arrangements and strong bilateral and transparency measures which will provide assurances our uranium will be used only for peaceful purposes," she wrote.
"[We] must be prepared to confront difficult questions about maximising prosperity and the strength of our relationships in our region of the world."
Labor policy prohibits selling uranium to any country that is not a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and the move will face opposition from the ALP's Left faction.
But pressure has been mounting to change the policy, with Resources Minister Martin Ferguson and Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd both in support of selling uranium to India.
India refuses to sign the treaty because it wants to retain the nuclear option to defend itself against nuclear-armed neighbours, Pakistan and China.
Mr Ferguson says India is not a rogue nuclear nation.
"The international approach to India has changed dramatically with the Nuclear Suppliers Group decision of 2007, led by the United States, to actually sell uranium to India," he said this morning.
Audio: Martin Ferguson speaks to AM (AM)
"We can sell uranium as a nation to countries such as China and Russia, but under our existing policy, which is outdated, it actually is a hangover from the 1970s ... we can't currently sell uranium to India, the biggest democracy in the world, 1.109 billion people, which I might say, 400 million live below the poverty line."
He says the move is about "normalising" Australia's relationship with India.
"India could purchase uranium from a range of countries, but they are desirous, at some point, of being able to purchase uranium from Australia," he said. ...<cont>
Obama visit to focus on military ties
Updated November 16, 2011 09:28:17/ABC news
US president Barack Obama will arrive in Canberra this afternoon for his first official visit to Australia.
Mr Obama has been forced to cancel planned visits on two other occasions - once because of the political turmoil in Washington and the other because of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.
The two-day visit will be marked by high security in Canberra, particularly around Parliament House and the Australian War Memorial.
The agenda is expected to be dominated throughout by talks on strengthening military ties between Australia and the US.
But the war in Afghanistan, China's role in Asia, trade, and nuclear troubles in Iran and North Korea are also expected to be discussed.
This afternoon the president will hold talks with Prime Minister Julia Gillard and tomorrow he will use a speech in Federal Parliament to make it clear that America is turning its focus towards the Asia Pacific.
He will then fly to Darwin with Ms Gillard, where they are expected to announce a boost to the US military presence in Australia's north.
Security will be tight for the president's arrival today, with airspace above Canberra restricted and F/A-18 Hornets patrolling overhead.
Hundreds of secret service agents have arrived in Canberra to help with the stringent security arrangements and to organise dress rehearsals of planned movements.
Sniffer dogs and foot patrols will do regular sweeps, while access to roads around the Canberra airport, Parliament House and the War Memorial will be restricted.
Mr Obama's visit will coincide with the 60th anniversary of the signing of the ANZUS security alliance.
He is set to explain plans to increase joint training exercises at facilities in the Northern Territory, such as the remote Bradshaw field training area and the Delamere air weapons range already used for live-bombing practice by the US air force. ....<cont>