Australia: Most mentioned issues 6 - 12 July 2013

Ashton Agar batted himself into Ashes folklore overnight with his knock of 98 from 101 balls, which surpassed the previous world record for a last man in, set by West Indies fast bowler Tino Best against England last year. Not even falling two runs short of a century on debut could dampen Agar's spirits, as England ended the evening session at Trent Bridge reeling from the onslaught. He and Phillip Hughes, who made a tough 81 not out, carried Australia to an improbable first innings lead of 65 with a world record partnership of 163 for the last wicket.

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott called on Prime Minister Kevin Rudd this week to "end the uncertainty" about the election date, amid fresh speculation that it could be held on September 21 - the same date as the AFL preliminary finals. The new Rudd leadership is polling well thus far with a Rudd TV campaign already underway. Rudd continued his call to “stop the negativity” at a Press Club appearance in which he had challenged Tony Abbott to a debate, saying the coalition had not released sufficient policy information. Abbott refused to take part.

The Federal Government’s new Immigration Minister, Tony Burke, has suggested the government will overhaul existing immigration laws and crack down on asylum seekers arriving without identity papers. Two more asylum boats carrying almost 170 people arrived this week taking the Christmas Island detention population to a record 3,652 people. Meanwhile, in an interview on ABC television on Tuesday night, Foreign Minister Carr repeated his argument that an overwhelming number of boat people, mainly from Iran, were faking their claims and coming to Australia to seek economic advantage. Julian Burnside QC called it dog whistle politics.

The women’s singles final at Wimbledon last weekend saw 24th seeded German Sabine Lisicki succumb to 15th seeded Marion Bartoli of France. Lisicki defeated Australian Samantha Stosur in the fourth round and broke defending champion Serena Williams’ 34 match winning streak on her path to the final but not complete the slam. In the men’s draw, world number two Andy Murray became the first Brit to win the men’s title in 74 years beating Serbia’s Novak Djokovic in straight sets, leaving British fans rejoicing.

Holden is on course for a union clash that could lead to the end of its car manufacturing in Australia by 2016. The struggling car maker says its survival depends on factory workers taking a pay cut of up to $200 per week. But Australian Manufacturing Workers' Union SA secretary John Camillo said taking wage cuts would be a bridge too far. Opposition Leader Tony Abbott added pressure to the unions saying the Coalition would support boosting a $275 million government grant to keep Holden making cars in Australia, but only if it was tied to cost reductions and export growth.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

 "A general protection application has been filed on behalf of Mel Greig against Southern Cross Austereo." Steven Lewis, a lawyer for Mel Greig, the 2Day Radio personality at the centre of the royal prank call tragedy, confirmed Greig is suing her employer Southern Cross for failing to provide a safe workplace.

By John Chalmers, Group Communications Manager, iSentia

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