Morning Report – Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Good morning readers, and welcome to Tuesday, 14 February 2012. It was on this day in 1966 that the Australian currency was decimalised.

Federal Politics

Newspoll has Tony Abbott back in front as preferred prime minister

Tony Abbott has again overtaken Julia Gillard as preferred prime minister as the Coalition continues to dominate a federal Labor Party distracted by leadership divisions.

According to the latest Newspoll survey, taken exclusively for The Australian on February 10-12, Mr Abbott now leads Ms Gillard as preferred prime minister by 40 per cent to 37 per cent, reversing their positions two weeks ago. Ms Gillard had held a clear lead over Mr Abbott as preferred prime minister since mid-November, when she won kudos for hosting the Queen and US President Barack Obama.

The Australian | Full tables are available here

Gillard quizzed on when she knew of leadership coup

The Labor Party’s leadership tensions have been given fresh life by allegations Julia Gillard and key factional supporters were preparing to challenge Kevin Rudd weeks before his eventual overthrow.

Ms Gillard has consistently stated that her decision to take on Mr Rudd was made on the day of the coup in June 2010.

However, ABC1’s Four Corners has revealed that senior staff in Ms Gillard’s office at the time had started writing the first speech she delivered as Prime Minister at least two weeks before she took power.

ABC News | The Australian| The Age | The West Australian

State Politics

Cabinet briefed on Keelty report

The former federal police commissioner, Mick Keelty, has briefed the WA Cabinet on his inquiry into the Margaret River bushfire which destroyed 40 properties last November.

Mr Keelty spent around two months collecting and gathering information from local residents and authorities.

The blaze, which began as a prescribed burn started by the Department of Environment and Conservation, escaped in hot and windy conditions, and burnt through 1,000 hectares.

ABC News | The West Australian

US Politics

Obama unveils election year budget

US president Barack Obama has unveiled his crucial election year budget, planning to pump billions of dollars into the economy as he seeks a second term.

The 10-year budget blueprint aims to cut the nation’s deficit by almost $US4 trillion, with cuts in government spending and higher taxes on the wealthy.

Republicans have complained the cutbacks do not go nearly deep enough, avoiding big-spending programs such as Medicare and social security, and have branded it an “insult” to taxpayers.

While Mr Obama acknowledged that he had not reduced debt nearly as much as he promised at the beginning of his term in office, he said his 2013 budget would sustain fresh economic growth and change an economic system tilted in favour the wealthy.

ABC News