Minister for Finance, Penny Wong has released an eight page booklet outlining the ALP’s costings of the opposition’s policy pledges entitled Pre-Budget Deficit: Tony Abbott and the Coalition. Of course, the public doesn’t expect all such pledges to be implemented, but if they were, Labor predicts that the Coalition would put the budget $9 million into deficit, in 2012-13. The figure does not include savings the Coalition has promised to find: it is to be noted that the Coalition has failed to point out where these savings were to be made.
The Labor governments leadership struggles over the past week has fixated the nation. On 22 February, following weeks of reports of tension, Kevin Rudd stepped down as Foreign Minister. The next day Julia Gillard called a leadership ballet and by 23 February Rudd confirmed he would contest the leadership. Opinions polls have shown Rudd to be preferred Prime Minister to Gillard however whom the caucus prefers is still mere speculation.
Rhino hunting has reached record heights in South Africa, prompting the government to address requests for establishing a legal market of Rhino horns to combat poaching.
Rhinos are currently on the ICUN Red List as critically endangered. Conservation society WWF estimated the Black Rhino population has decrease by 95% since the 1980s, from 75,000 to 4,500 in South Africa today. Currently, 80% of Rhinos are found on state owned reserves, their vast size makes them difficult to patrol and prime hunting territory for poachers. The Rhinos are tranquilised, their horns brutally chain-sawed off and left to bleed out through their mutilated heads – a long and excruciating death. More than 440 Rhinos were poached in 2011 – their horns removed for sale predominantly on the Asian and Middle Eastern black markets. The horns, used primarily for ornamental and medicinal purposes, sell for approximately $35,055 US per kilo, making Rhino horns a multi-billion dollar illegal industry on the global market.