Gillard Announces Free QANTAS Evacuation Flight From Cairo

Prime Minister Julia Gillard has announced that the Australian government will provide a free QANTAS evacuation flight on Wednesday for Australians in Egypt.

The government will charter a 747 to evacuate Australians wishing to leave Egypt. Gillard said Australians were not advised to cancel commercial bookings because the Cairo airport is open and commercial flights are leaving. However, no Australian would be denied a seat on the chartered flight. The plane will fly to Frankfurt or London.

Australians in Egypt can call the Australian embassy in Cairo on 202 2575 0444. The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) number from outside Australia is 61 2 6261 3305. Calls from within Australia should use 02 6261 3305.

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The Egyptian Unrest: Special Report from Stratfor

Is there a midranking officer, a modern Colonel Nasser, waiting in the wings in Egypt’s military?

Riot police and protesters clash at the Qasr al-Nil Bridge near Tahrir Square in Cairo on Jan. 28Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak remains the lifeblood of the demonstrators, who still number in the tens of thousands in downtown Cairo and in other major cities, albeit on a lesser scale. After being overwhelmed in the Jan. 28 Day of Rage protests, Egypt’s internal security forces — with the anti-riot paramilitaries of the Central Security Forces (CSF) at the forefront — were glaringly absent from the streets Jan. 29. They were replaced with rows of tanks and armored personnel carriers carrying regular army soldiers. Unlike their CSF counterparts, the demonstrators demanding Mubarak’s exit from the political scene largely welcomed the soldiers. Despite Mubarak’s refusal to step down Jan. 28, the public’s positive perception of the military, seen as the only real gateway to a post-Mubarak Egypt, remained. It is unclear how long this perception will hold, especially as Egyptians are growing frustrated with the rising level of insecurity in the country and the army’s limits in patrolling the streets.

There is more to these demonstrations than meets the eye. The media will focus on the concept of reformers staging a revolution in the name of democracy and human rights. These may well have brought numerous demonstrators into the streets, but revolutions, including this one, are made up of many more actors than the liberal voices on Facebook and Twitter. [Read more...]


Gillard and Swan Trade Blows With Abbott Over Flood Levy

Wayne Swan and Tony Abbott have traded blows as the debate over the proposed flood levy continues.

The Treasurer described Abbott’s attitudes and his speech to Young Liberals today as “disgusting”. He said it was disgusting that Abbott would seek to use the floods as a means to rise to power.

The Opposition Leader continued to claim that Australia did not need “yet another new tax” and offered to sit down with the Prime Minister to find another $1.8 billion in budget savings.

The Prime Minister said Abbott should “think again” and said she couldn’t understand how he could propose a levy to fund his election promises but opposed one for flood reconstruction.

  • Listen to Wayne Swan’s comments.

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    Tony Abbott
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    Julia Gillard

Lazy Policy Under Cover of Sympathy For Flood Victims: Abbott

Text of Opposition Leader Tony Abbott’s speech to the Young Liberal convention on the Gold Coast.

Tony AbbottThis summer, we’ve been shocked by the flood disasters that have hit Queensland, Victoria and parts of New South Wales and Western Australia but thrilled by the upwelling of generosity from family, friends, neighbours and tens of thousands of unknown benefactors towards their fellow Australians in trouble.

In dozens of evacuation, recovery or disaster control centres from Grantham and Murphy’s Creek, to Emerald, to Rochester, to Echuca, to Grafton or the Brisbane showgrounds, thousands of people, mostly volunteers, have been striving around the clock to help Australians whose homes or businesses have been in peril. In places such as Toowoomba, Bundaberg, Dalby, Horsham and Dadswell’s Bridge, home of the Big Koala, people devastated by the loss of homes and businesses have been buoyed by the support they’ve had from good Samaritans who turned up when they were needed most. [Read more...]


President Obama’s Remarks on Egypt Unrest

Audio and video of President Obama’s remarks on the political unrest in Egypt.

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Flood Levy Debate: Don’t Patronise Me, Neil

The debate over the Gillard government’s flood levy got willing today as the Prime Minister clashed with Neil Mitchell on Melbourne radio station 3AW.

Towards the end of the interview, Gillard and Mitchell clashed over Cabinet support for the levy and oversight of the flood recovery spending.

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Later in the morning, Queensland Premier Anna Bligh and Treasurer Andrew Fraser held a press conference to outline infrastructure rebuilding plans.

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In a speech this afternoon to the CEO Institute in Brisbane, the Federal Treasurer, Wayne Swan, defended the government’s plan for the flood levy. He argued that in a growing economy it is important “to pay your way as you go”. Swan said it would have been irresponsible to borrow to fund the rebuilding program.

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Transcript of Julia Gillard’s interview with Neil Mitchell.

GILLARD:

Good morning, Neil.

MITCHELL:

Thank you very much for your time. I appreciate it. Prime Minister, with your Government’s history of mis-management, like the insulation program, school re-building, who are you going to put in charge of the spending of this money you’re going to take from us? [Read more...]


The Impact of the Floods On Our Patchwork Economy: Swan

This is the text of a speech delivered by the Treasurer, Wayne Swan, to the CEO Institute, in Brisbane.

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The Impact of the Floods on our Patchwork Economy

Wayne SwanThanks very much for having me and for that kind introduction.

I’d like to thank everyone for being here today, at such a challenging time for our state in particular, for other flood-affected communities in Victoria and elsewhere, and for the national economy more broadly. I’m sure all of you have many competing demands on your time, whether you’ve been personally affected by the floods or involved in the huge rescue and cleanup operation, or whether you’re looking after staff, or whether you’re just trying to get your business back on its feet.

Like me, you would have been inspired by the sheer depth of the community spirit we’ve seen in Queensland in recent weeks. Given the scale of the floods, we’re going to need every ounce of that community and corporate spirit, as we turn our attention to the economic costs and the economic recovery. [Read more...]