GONSKI 2.0: THE NEVERENDING STORY
The government is negotiating with the Greens and the crossbench to pass the “Gonski 2.0” education funding changes this week, and the potential for striking a deal with each of the major players depends on several factors. One Nation whip Brian Burston says in The Australian today that the party is likely to support the legislation as is: “It’s a fair deal, it’s based on need, and the fact a school can apply for extra funding based on special needs I think is a good thing.”
Sounds easy, right? His leader Pauline Hanson isn’t quoted in the Oz, but in The Courier-Mail she makes it seem like Education Minister Simon Birmingham will have to work for her vote when they meet later today. “I have long said throwing money at education is not always the answer,” she said. She reportedly wants to explore what the federal government can do to enforce more discipline in classrooms even though that is a state issue, including students doing “lines” and being forced to repeat a year if they fail. “Classrooms are not some Brisbane Ekka show stall where everyone gets a prize.”
The Greens are the other major player in education negotiations, but their support of the legislation is tempered by fears of the reaction from the Australian Education Union, which represents teachers and opposes the Turnbull government plan. The Australian Financial Review reports the prospect of 10 Greens votes getting the legislation passed is “line-ball”, but Senator Sarah Hanson-Young is keen to get a deal done and it was reported yesterday that the government would be making sweeping changes to get the Greens’ votes.
The government might still need to deal with opposition within its own ranks. West Australian Senator Chris Back, who formerly sat on the Catholic Education Commission, says he won’t stop fighting for a better deal for Catholic schools. Financial modelling released over the weekend shows $4 million will move from the Catholic sector to the public sector, which has added to staunch opposition to the changes from the Catholic Education Commission. Catholic Education Commission executive director Christian Zahra told Fran Kelly this morning he believes there’s a chance more Coalition MPs could cross the floor on the deal.
BALL IN THEIR COURT
Who said what on the Victorian MPs facing contempt of court charges for their comments on the Victorian judicial system? Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce or Senator Derryn Hinch?
“The courts cannot be and are not immune from criticism which may extend to robust observations of a particular decision or penalty.”
“The three ministers were well within their rights to do what they did … If I was the minister I would have told them to go jump. Courts are not inviolate.”
“The court is in deliberation. I don’t know what the technical term is for it, I’m an accountant, but, um, look, I just want to see this thing be dealt with in the proper manner, and I – you know, it’s fair warning, if the court says that there’s an issue here then I’m going to shut up.”
The first one is Turnbull on 3AW on Thursday, for which he is now being pursued by the Labor Party.
The second is Hinch, who (unsurprisingly) backs the ministers.
And in what will surprise some, the most cautious statement comes from Barnaby Joyce on Insiders yesterday. The three federal ministers Greg Hunt, Alan Tudge and Michael Sukkar, have retracted the comments about Victorian judges’ handling of terror suspects, but they didn’t apologise. The court is yet to decide whether they will face charges.
RED SYMONS APOLOGISES
“I came across as racist and I was wrong in he way I conducted on the interview,” said ABC Melbourne breakfast host Red Symons as he opened his show today. He was apologising for his interview with fellow ABC employee and host of the It’s Not A Race podcast, Beverley Wang, after an interview in which he asked “what’s the deal with Asians?” and “are you yellow?” was posted online late last week.
“I offer my sincere apologies. We need to talk about these issues, but be careful how we consider them,” he said.
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WHAT’S ON TODAY
Canberra: Federal cabinet meets today, at the start of the final sitting week before the winter break. As well as Gonski, the government is hoping to pass media reform and the bank levy this week, so senators will be preparing for some late nights.
Canberra: Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop is speaking at the Crawford Leadership Forum at Australian National University, as is former New Zealand PM Helen Clark, Reserve Bank governor Philip Lowe, former trade minister Andrew Robb (will there be any questions on his new Chinese job?), opposition foreign affairs spokeswoman Penny Wong and Department of Immigration secretary Mike Pezzullo.
Darwin: The royal commission into youth detention in the Northern Territory will hold hearings today.
Melbourne: Former Health Services Union executive Kathy Jackson is expected to appear in court via video link for a committal mention.
London: WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has promised that he will make a “special announcement” from the balcony of the Ecuadorian embassy, to mark five years spent there.
Senate vote is imminent for the Turnbull government’s Gonski 2.0 school funding plan — Tim Dodd (Australian Financial Review $): “The big question for this week is whether the Greens will come on board with Birmingham’s plan and that is likely to be known after their party meeting early in the week.”
Many of us are living the myth of lower inflation — Adam Creighton (The Australian $): “Luxuries have fallen in price, more or less, while those of many essentials — which tend to make up a bigger share of poorer households’ budgets and certainly their incomes — have increased.”
Overreaction to Khayre’s crimes exactly what terrorists seek — George Williams (The Age): “Denying terrorist offenders parole looks tough, but it may not be helpful. It removes the opportunity to reshape the behaviour of an offender through a transitional period between jail and freedom”
TODAY IN TRUMP
In an incredible reversal of position, one of Donald Trump’s lawyers has told weekend television shows the president is not under investigation for potentially obstructing justice.
Last week, Trump tweeted: “I am being investigated for firing the FBI Director by the man who told me to fire the FBI Director! Witch Hunt”. But lawyer Jay Sekulow insisted the president would have rejected the premise of reports indicating he was under investigation if he had not been constrained by Twitter’s 140-character limit. — New York Times
Three days of mourning have been announced in Portugal after massive forest fires left at least 61 people dead. Hundreds of firefighters, scores of fire engines and several aerial water-bombing planes have battled the blazes, which started in Pedrogao Grande. — The Guardian
Projections from the second round of voting in France’s national parliamentary elections indicate Emmanuel Macron’s En Marche (On the Move) party has won a majority in its own right, increasing the recently elected president’s power. The Socialist party has been hobbled by the result, while the conservative Republican party will form the largest opposition group. Marine Le Pen has won a seat, but her National Front party is expected to win only a small number overall. — Reuters
A resort in Mali popular with foreigners has come under attack, apparently from a jihadist group. French troops and UN forces have helped suppress an insurgency in the country, but terror attacks have continued. — Al Jazeera
WHAT WE’RE READING
Uber’s blunders, scandals and PR disasters: the full list (The Observer): “Uber has been rocked by a steady stream of scandals and negative publicity in recent years, including revelations of questionable spy programs, a high-stakes technology lawsuit, claims of sexual harassment and discrimination and embarrassing leaks about executive conduct. Here is a list …”
An industry shudders as Amazon buys Whole Foods for $13.7bn (The Economist): “Years ago a deal that gave Amazon less than 2% of a market might not have raised eyebrows. Now competitors know Amazon well enough to be terrified.”
The normalization of conspiracy culture (The Atlantic): “Conspiracy theories flourish when people feel vulnerable. They thrive on paranoia. It has always been this way. So it’s understandable that, at this chaotic moment in global politics, conspiracy theories seem to have seeped out from the edges of society and flooded into mainstream political discourse. They’re everywhere.”
Breitbart News, Donald Trump’s Pravda, is in crisis (Newsweek):“SimilarWeb, a company that uses Google Analytics to analyze web browsing patterns, found that Breitbart had 128 million total visits in November, but that the number has since dropped to 78 million total visits in April.”
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