News cuts off its rich. It’s discrimination against the rich at News Limited with the well-to-do hacks up in arms. Apparently News has had the temerity to demand in the latest round of pay negotiations that no journalist on over $125,000 gets a pay rise — not even the usual CPI increase.

Surely this is not something Rupert himself would condone? In 2009, Murdoch was paid a base salary of $US8.1 million. And in the next three years he could receive a maximum of $US87 million in cash and shares with his base salary on top of that. The hacks are howling.

Westfield takes up tobacco fight. Westfield is taking money from the Alliance of Australian Retailers, the tobacco front group, by having alliance messages on billboards in and on its shopping centres. I have seen some outside where smokers congregate.

Value for money at Melbourne Uni… Regarding your story yesterday on the University of Melbourne’s fee hike for gifted Year 12 students studying first year uni maths and other subjects. In addition to the fresh $800 impost on students, the subjects are apparently going to be scored no differently to a VET/TAFE subject, and the score will be based on performance in completely unrelated subjects. I don’t mean to be elitist, but this seems ridiculous in the extreme.

With the double whammy of the fee hike and the change to the ATAR calculation, it’s hard to justify why any high school student would study a first year university subject in the future. Check out this statement in the Victorian Tertiary Admission Centre’s ‘VICTER 2013′ document for proof:

“From 2012 Higher Education studies will include first-year university studies and advanced standing TAFE courses recognised by the VCAA and made available to VCE students who are very able academically and have the endorsement of their school principal. Upon satisfactory completion, these studies will be counted as an increment in the calculation of the ATAR. The increment will be calculated as 10% of the average of the primary four studies, which is the same calculation used for non-scorable VET studies.”

…and Monash’s doing it too. As you noted in your story, Monash is also charging. Last year my Year 12 daughter did university geography and the fee was about $800. She was taught at Camberwell High by a teacher under auspices of the uni.

Victorian deposits and developers. It’s worth noting that the Victorian government are currently considering, via the Consumer Affairs Legislation Amendment (Reform) Bill 2010, increasing the maximum deposit allowed for off-the-plan sales to 20% from 10%. Developers and their financiers will be able to choose to increase the deposit required to 20% if they wish.

Ironbar’s identity stolen. Wilson Tuckey won’t be able to use his affectionate nickname for his new is already taken.

Under the Southern Cross. Watch out for a “new political force emerging in the next half dozen years” — the Great Southern Cross Party. According to its website:

As concerned citizens, we are of the belief that this nation requires a political alternative to the mainstream parties.

We are concerned with the lack of direction coming from the major parties as our nation approaches a series of tipping points that will determine our economic and social future for many generations to come. There must be a direction, a vision and a long term plan put in place to ensure the best possible outcomes.

There are many great Australians with much to offer the nation who, due to the stigma of politics and party machinations, are discouraged from becoming involved in public service.

We invite our fellow Australians to assist in establishing a new political force that recreates the spirit our forefathers displayed in building our great nation.