Friday, September 21, 2018

Cash windfall for private schools

The federal government will direct more than $4 billion in funding to the Catholic and independent schools sectors over the next decade. Private schools in NSW and Victoria will receive an extra $1.4 billion by 2029, while $1.2 billion will be directed toward regional, rural and remote schools. The funding announcement was welcomed by the National Catholic Education Commission and the Independent Schools Council of Australia, which opposed the government’s “Gonski 2.0” funding formula last year. NSW education minister Rob Stokes said the proposal threatened “a return to the school funding wars of the past that pitted private schools against public schools”, while former NSW education minister Adrian Piccoli described it as “pathetic”, saying it was “throwing money at the powerful and well connected”.

Home affairs minister Peter Dutton has narrowly survived a no-confidence motion in the House of Representatives over the au pairs scandal. While outgoing Liberal MP Julia Banks was reportedly overheard saying “supporting that man is not what I want to be doing”, no Coalition MPs crossed the floor to support the motion, which was defeated 68 votes to 67. Responding to Dutton’s claims he had intervened in the two au pair cases on humanitarian grounds, independent MP Andrew Wilkie invoked “at least 30 children on Nauru who doctors say should be brought to this country for urgent medical attention”.

Officials from environment minister Josh Frydenberg’s office were scrambling to learn basic details about the Great Barrier Reef Fund just days before the federal government awarded the organisation a $443 million grant. Emails obtained by Fairfax through Freedom of Information show that environment department officials asked GBRF staff to provide “a package of background material” and “any summaries of projects that we are investing with you” before the funding was announced on April 29. A spokesperson for the department told a Senate inquiry into the grant the foundation had only sought $5 million in funding before a meeting with Frydenberg and then-prime minister Malcolm Turnbull on April 9, at which the $443 million figure was first raised.

And the New South Wales government will apply to the High Court to have the man suspected of murdering three Aboriginal children in the 1990s retried. Speaking on Thursday, attorney-general Mark Speakman said he “wouldn't be making this application if I didn't believe there were prospects of success before the High Court”. Last week the NSW Court of Criminal Appeal threw out an application to have the unnamed man retried over the deaths of Evelyn Greenup, Clinton Speedy-Deroux and Colleen Walker in the town of Bowraville. Family members of the children and supporters rallied outside state parliament on Thursday before marching to the Supreme Court building where the case was thrown out.


“Since 1980, the obesity rate has doubled in 73 countries and increased in 113 others. And in all that time, no nation has reduced its obesity rate. Not one. The problem is that in America, like everywhere else, our institutions of public health have become so obsessed with body weight that they have overlooked what is really killing us: our food supply.”


“On and off over the next three years, I reviewed police documents, interviewed witnesses and experts, and made several pilgrimages home to Texas to try to understand what exactly happened to Amber Wyatt – not just on that night, but in the days and months and years that followed.”


“Anti-abortion activists in Queensland are marching, tweeting, rallying, letterboxing and calling MPs ahead of next month’s parliamentary vote which could see abortion decriminalised in the state ... We spoke to some of these young women about their campaigning and beliefs.”


“Newstart has not increased in nearly 25 years, or in line with other welfare benefits, and pressure to raise it is growing. Recipients live on $277 per week, the lowest unemployment benefit in the OECD and less than half the average. The Faces of Unemployment report released last Friday, by The Australian Council of Social Services and Jobs Australia, showed 64 per cent of recipients get stuck on the payment for more than a year.”


“The federal government says a $2 boost per week to Newstart allowance will help unemployed Australians keep up with increases in their living costs, but people on the payment say the increase is laughable ... Single parents will get a $2.35 increase weekly, while for couples the income boost stands at $1.95 each. Rent assistance, which is also accessed by some people on Newstart, will increase by 50c a week.”


“Failing to complete the simple task despite his ostensibly robust academic background, onlooking students at Kalamazoo College reported Wednesday that their supposedly educated literature professor Gene Cabella demonstrated no clue as to how to rid their lecture hall of a bird that had flown in through an open window.”

Alex McKinnon
is Schwartz Media's morning editor.