Political news

Coal the biggest contributor to toxic air pollution: study

Lisa Cox, Natalie O'Brien 8:19 AM   Australia's coal industry is driving increases in air pollution according to a new analysis which names coal mining as the dominant source of air particle pollution.

Joe Hockey's budget facing new troubles as anxious consumers stop spending

Treasurer Joe Hockey.

Mark Kenny 8:18 AM   Anxious consumers have blamed the government as they close their wallets, deepening Joe Hockey's challenge of crafting a budget hit by plummeting iron ore revenue and by Tony Abbott's need for political recovery over budget repair.

Hockey's Google tax could derail international tax treaties: Budget Office

Assault on multinationals: Treasurer Joe Hockey.

Heath Aston, Nassim Khadem 8:16 AM   The likely centrepiece of Treasurer Joe Hockey's assault on multinational profit-shifting – a so-called "Google tax" – risks breaking Australia's international tax treaties, the Parliamentary Budget Office has found.

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Largest fish trawler Geelong Star arrives in Australian waters

The sharks circle the fish off Surf Beach.

Andrew Darby 8:51 PM   The controversial Dutch-owned factory freezer trawler Geelong Star has arrived in Australia and been given initial Federal Government approval to fish, despite concerted opposition.

Labor offers to end super concessions for the rich

Shadow Treasurer Chris Bowen.

Mark Kenny 8:24 PM   The prospect of a breakthrough on the contentious tax treatment of superannuation earnings has moved a step closer with Labor extending a rare offer of bipartisanship to a cash-strapped government.

Climate contrarian's Australian influence grows with uni deal

The controversial Bjorn Lomborg, now an adjunct professor at the University of Western Australia.

Markus Mannheim 11:45 PM   The controversial Dane has struck a four-year deal to run a policy research centre in Perth.

Coles, Woolies fight Harper review 'effects test'

Ian Harper said the review did not aim to make life "tougher or easier" for big supermarket chains.

Matthew Knott 6:25 PM   The ANRA says the federal government policy review's recommendations would have a "chilling effect on competition".

Shorten's seat of Maribyrnong included in branch-stacking inquiry

Australian Labor Party

Richard Willingham 6:09 PM   The use of pre-paid credit cards to sign up people to the Labor Party is being investigated as part an internal inquiry into branch stacking in the Victorian ALP.

Defence review calls for sale of Defence properties and measures to cut waste

The federal government has accepted 75 of the 76   recommendations made by the Peever Defence review, which will be implemented over the next two years.

James Massola 5:17 PM   A sweeping review of the Defence Department has proposed "transformational change" of the sprawling organisation, the sale of real estate including 17 major sites worth up to $1.4 billion and the axing of between 1000 and 1650 public servants.

Senator Jacqui Lambie claims Tasmanians are worried about sharia law

Senator Jacqui Lambie speakings against Attorney-General Senator George Brandis during a censure motion in the Senate at Parliament House Canberra on Monday 2 March 2015. Photo: Andrew Meares

Latika Bourke 3:26 PM   Independent senator Jacqui Lambie wants to send Australian made goods to poor countries instead of foreign aid claiming the money would be better spent "in our own backyard".

Clive Palmer launches legal action against former Palmer United Party senators Jacqui Lambie and Glenn Lazarus

Clive Palmer bitter on split by Glen Lazarus?

Latika Bourke 3:19 PM   Clive Palmer wants to sue defector Senators Jacqui Lambie and Glenn Lazarus for $9 million.

Australia not among rich nations releasing post-2020 emission goals on time

The emissions intensity of the power sector is on the increase.

Lisa Cox and Peter Hannam 3:12 PM   The UN wants nations to release their longer-term targets well in advance of the Paris summit late this year that will aim to thrash out a new worldwide climate treaty.

Harper review: Pharmacists slam proposal to lift restrictions

Chemist

Beau Donelly 3:09 PM   Loosening strict pharmacy regulations would allow supermarket chains to tap into the prescription medicine market and could compromise patient care, pharmacists warn.

Admiral sounds the alarm of China's intentions

It's artificial islands, like this one planned by China, that are causing alarm around the South China Sea.

John Garnaut 3:05 PM   A powerful American general has fired a warning at China for rapidly building “a Great Wall” of artificial islands across hotly-contested waters.

Latin America, Middle East eyed to revive education sector

Crowded market: competition for international students, particularly from Asia, is increasing with Chinese, British and American universities all setting up campuses in Asia.

Matthew Knott 3:03 PM   Australia should look beyond the Asia-Pacific and lure more international students from Latin America and the Middle East to study at local campuses, according to a major federal government review of the $16 billion international education sector.

Harper review: Plan to lift market restrictions to put consumer interests first

Professor Ian Harper releases the Competition Policy Review's final report on Tuesday.

Mark Kenny, Peter Martin and Gareth Hutchens 3:01 PM   Canberra will push state governments to sweep away the most enduring market restrictions faced by Australians in their everyday lives granting new access to goods and services at lower prices from taxis and books, to 24-7 shopping including pharmaceutical and alcohol sales in shops.

Big business took $25 billion in tax relief in 2014, Tax Office figures show

Australian Tax Office data shows the nation's top 900 companies paid an effective tax rate of 19.3 per cent.

Heath Aston 3:00 PM   Australia's biggest 900 companies claimed tax deductions and exemptions worth a total $25 billion last year – enough to wipe out two-thirds of the current federal budget deficit at a stroke.

Marr sets sights on Shorten in another Quarterly Essay

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten

Latika Bourke 12:06 PM   He exposed Kevin Rudd's colourful use of language to describe the Chinese during climate negotiations and allegations of Tony Abbott's infamous wall punch in his student days and now journalist David Marr is turning his sights on Labor leader Bill Shorten.

Go8 unis withdraws support for further compromise on deregulation

Education Minister Christopher Pyne

Latika Bourke   Christopher Pyne's bid to deregulate tertiary fees has suffered a major setback with the influential Group of Eight universities withdrawing support for any more compromises aimed at securing crossbench support.

Jacqui Lambie Network: former Palmer United Party senator registers new political party

Senator Jacqui Lambie is pushing to form her own political party.

Latika Bourke   Independent senator Jacqui Lambie has taken the first step towards forming her own political party by formally applying to set up the Jacqui Lambie Network.

Mothers would be hit by minimum work test for childcare subsidies

Career vs motherhood. Are we all just winging it?

Judith Ireland   There are fears more than 100,000 mothers will be forced to give up work if the Abbott government cracks down on the number of hours parents have to work in order to get childcare subsidies.

Harper review: Small business fears impact of dumping retail trading hours

Professor Ian Harper at the Competition Policy Review's release on Tuesday.

Kate Aubusson   Small businesses are fearful moves to deregulate trading hours, as recommended by the federal government's competition review, would see them crowded out of business by the big retailers.

Key recommendations of Harper review

Professor Ian Harper

The key recommendations of the Harper review.

Taxis, pharmacies, shopping hours ripe for shakeup

Taxis are 'virtually unique among customer service industries', the Harper review found.

Gareth Hutchens, Peter Martin   Rules that restrict taxi licences, shopping hours, the location of pharmacies and the resale of goods legally purchased overseas would be swept away as part of a package of measures proposed by the first comprehensive review of competition policy in 22 years.

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Corporate giants join push for same-sex marriage

FFA chief David Gallop.

Judith Ireland   Corporate giants are coming out in support of same-sex marriage as part of a letter-writing campaign to increase pressure on Federal Parliament to pass the reform.

Harper review recommends sweeping changes to taxi services, retail trading hours and transport rules

The Harper review recommended remaining restrictions on retail trading hours should be removed.

Gareth Hutchens, Lisa Cox   Retail trading hours, taxi services, and road transport regulations could all change radically in coming years.

Super concessions for the wealthy in the firing line

Crackdown on tax concessions: Treasurer Joe Hockey.

Latika Bourke   A crackdown on superannuation concessions received by the wealthy appears to be the next major tax reform, with both sides of politics declaring they are looking to tackle the issue.

Changing consumer behaviour puts GST under pressure: Joe Hockey

Changing consumer spending habits put GST under pressure: Treasurer Joe Hockey.

Gareth Hutchens   Treasurer Joe Hockey says Australian consumers have changed their behaviour so much in recent years, through online shopping and choosing more GST-exempt goods, that they are putting pressure on the GST as a revenue-raiser.

Emissions 'step up' after carbon price ends

Hazy picture: Australia's greenhouse gas emissions are falling - for now.

Peter Hannam   Australia’s greenhouse emissions from the electricity sector jumped in the September quarter, reversing the industry’s declines during the two carbon tax years preceding it, the latest government data shows.