TURNING THE OTHER CHEEK

Talks continue between the Catholic school sector and the Turnbull government over what the sector says will be a shortfall in funding for some Catholic schools under Malcolm Turnbull‘s Gonski 2.0 plan. The Archdiocese of Brisbane has assured parents their fees would not be going up next year and thanked the federal government for a “commitment to fair and equitable funding”, according to Matthew Knott in the Fairfax papers. The Education Department has also announced funding would be maintained for the ACT Catholic system until 2021 under a “temporary” ­assistance package. This is in contrast to modelling by the National Catholic Education Commission and published in The Australian earlier this month that some schools could face fee hikes of up to $6000 because of the new funding model. But tensions continue between the Coalition and the Catholic Church over the possibility of less money for some Catholic schools, with senior Coalition figures including former prime minister John Howard involved in negotiations with high-level Church officials to calm the waters. 

The Gonski 2.0 funding passed the lower house yesterday with the help of independent Cathy McGowan and Rebekah Sharkie of the Nick Xenophon Team, after Labor, the Greens and independent Andrew Wilkie voted against it. A Senate inquiry into the changes will be held before an upper house vote in late June. 

SAFE AS HOUSES?

Australian asset manager Altair Asset Management has liquidated its share funds and handed back “hundreds of millions” to clients because it foresees an upcoming “calamity” in the property market, reports Patrick Commins in the Financial Review. “We think that there is too much risk in this market at the moment, we think it’s crazy,” said Altair chairman Philip Parker

EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT: INDIGENOUS ADVISORY BODY DEBATE

After a three-day indigenous constitutional convention at Yulara last week, the “Uluru Statement of the Heart” released on Friday called for an indigenous political advisory body to be enshrined in the constitution, the establishment of a treaty commission and the beginning of a truth and recon­ciliation process. Indigenous leader Noel Pearson supported the proposal for an advisory body on Q&A last night, describing it as “the Tent Embassy in stone”. “We’re going to formalise the indigenous voice in this country, going to get out from under the fringes,” Pearson said

A draft model for such a body, written by constitutional law professor Anne Twomey, makes it explicit it would act only in an advisory capacity: “There would be no third house of parliament, no power of veto and no power of delay — simply a capacity on behalf of the ­indigenous advisory body to have its advice tabled in the parliament and internally considered by parliament in relation to a limited category of bills”.

One of the key lawyers in the landmark Mabo case, Bryan Keon-Cohen, has also voiced his support.”What are we worrying about, apart from politicians being gutless?” Unsurprisingly, the Institute of Public Affairs is against it, with boss John Roskam telling The Guardian it was “just as offensive as to give people a special say due to their religion, or gender or anything else”.

But the Coalition is split on the proposal. Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce rubbished it as “overreach” that was “not going to happen”. But some Liberal MPs, including former constitutional lawyer Julian Leeser and Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion, see merit in the idea. 

WHAT’S ON TODAY

Canberra: Senate estimates today, with Health, Treasury, Employment and Defence continuing.

The Coalition joint party room will also meet, as will the Labor caucus.

Melbourne: Public hearings will continue for the parliamentary inquiry into youth justice centres.

There will also be a directions hearing in the Supreme Court for the man who has pleaded guilty to raping and murdering six-year-old Kylie Maybury on Melbourne Cup Day 1984. Fairfax’s Walkley-winning crime journo, John Silvester, has details of the case and how police tracked down the killer. 

Also in Melbourne, Rebel Wilson‘s defamation case against Bauer Media will continue. Yesterday the court was told “she had, in fact, signed lucrative contracts since the articles were published”, according to the Herald Sun.

Paris: Day three of the French Open, with Sam Stosur through to the next round

Sydney: US Senator John McCain will address the United States Studies Centre about the US/Australian alliance in Sydney today.

Sydney Airport will hold its AGM. 

READ ALL ABOUT IT

Health Minister Greg Hunt shoots down department’s secret hospital plan

Schapelle Corby can’t profit from drug conviction, lawyer says, as ‘calculated’ media strategy emerges

Treasurer Scott Morrison’s tough new rules will hold Australia’s top banking executives to account

Travel ban: Convicted paedophiles to have passports cancelled

THE COMMENTARIAT

For jaded voters, it’s a case of none of the above — David Crowe (The Australian $): “The dire results in today’s poll are a confirmation of the fall in Turnbull’s personal standing since early last year, when he put GST reform (and almost everything else) on the table and confused voters about what he stood for.”

Black lung: The proof we have failed our coal miners — John Birmingham (Brisbane Times): “If governments are going to insist on propping up a dying industry, the least they could do is enforce their own regulatory schemes to minimise the death rate at the actual coal face.”

TODAY IN TRUMP

Donald Trump has broken his silence over the stabbing of two men who tried to disrupt a racist tirade on a train in Portland, Oregon. Trump was criticised for failing to laud the two men who intervened, but he has now tweeted that the victims were “standing up to hate and intolerance”.

In Washington, DC, the power of Trump’s son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner appears to have waned after it was revealed he tried to set up a secret line of communications with the Russians in December last year. Kushner remains a key adviser, but insiders say he is no longer above reproach.

THE WORLD

North Korea has fired a ballistic missile, the third such test since liberal Moon Jae-in was elected as the President of South Korea, vowing to increase dialogue with the Stalinist state. In response to the test, US President Donald Trump tweeted: “North Korea has shown great disrespect for their neighbor, China, by shooting off yet another ballistic missile … but China is trying hard!” — Reuters

French President Emmanuel Macron has said the use of chemical weapons in Syria represents a “red line” that would spur his country to action after his first meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. During the French election, Macron accused Russia of a “hybrid strategy combining military intimidation and an information war”. Putin had hosted Macron’s rival Marine Le Pen in Moscow and was asked by reporters about interfering in the French election but said, “that doesn’t exist as a problem”. — The Guardian

WHAT WE’RE READING

At Cannes, an existential fight over technology, Netflix and the future of cinema (LA Times): “Cannes may be the pinnacle of cinematic prestige and hold an outsized reverence for the past, but it represents a mind set that, depending on one’s point of view, should either be valiantly upheld in the face of barbarians or eagerly torn down in the name of democracy.”

‘We are not amused’: Belgian monarchy angered by Burger King (Reuters): “Burger King is in trouble with Belgium’s monarchy over an advertising campaign asking Belgians to vote online to ‘crown’ the global fast-food giant the true ruler of the country where the U.S. brand will launch next month.”

Explainer: how and why Islamic State-linked rebels took over part of a Philippine city (The Guardian): “Facing losses in Syria and Iraq, Isis have increasingly looked to the Philippines to establish a province or ‘wilayat’ in the region, the report said.”

The story behind Jared Kushner’s curious acceptance into Harvard (Pro Publica): “Of the 400-plus tycoons on Harvard’s list — which included people who were childless or too young to have college-age offspring — more than half had sent at least one child to the university.”

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
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