SCHOOL SLEEPOVER: GONSKI 2.0 PASSES

The government finally passed its Gonski 2.0 legislation in the early hours of this morning, with a raucous sitting of the House of Representatives voting through the amendments added to the bill to gain the votes of the Senate crossbench. It means that the government goes to the winter break with a win, and that MPs won’t be forced to sit again today.

The bill, now worth $23.5 billion, passed with the votes of Pauline Hanson‘s One Nation senators, the Nick Xenophon Team senators, Derryn Hinch, Lucy Gichuhi and Jacqui Lambie.

This doesn’t mean the politicisation of education funding has ended. The Guardian reports that state and territory governments are already complaining about the new funding arrangements.

HANSON STANDS BY COMMENTS

Senator Pauline Hanson hasn’t backed down from her comments about separating autistic children from others at schools, asking reporters at a press conference yesterday: “What have I said that is offensive?”

“You’re taking it out of context. I’m not saying they do not belong in the mainstream, I am saying give them the special attention, if they need that special attention.”

Hanson’s comments have led to many prominent Australians, including Labor MP Emma Husar and TV host Waleed Aly, speaking out about the successes of their children with autism. The ABC has spoken to children on the autism spectrum, with 13-year-old Carter Lawson saying: “It’s just really sad to see how people see kids like me as different and not able to cooperate and learn with other students that have been diagnosed with nothing or who are just normal.” 

There are a few people who haven’t had much to say about Hanson’s comments at all — Education Minister Simon Birmingham and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull weren’t among the first reaction to the comments, although on questioning, Turnbull’s office released a statement saying: “The government completely rejects any suggestion children with disabilities should be segregated.”

POLLIE PAYDAY

Our elected representatives will be looking forward to July 1, when they will receive a 2% pay rise, as well as getting a tax cut, when the temporary debt levy for high earners ends. The independent Remuneration Tribunal announced yesterday that all MPs would get a pay rise, bringing backbench MPs’ salaries to $203,020. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull will get a $10,000 jump, up to $527,852, while Treasurer Scott Morrison will earn $380,662, just above Opposition Leader Bill Shorten on $375, 587.

READ ALL ABOUT IT

South Australia bank tax an act of ‘economic vandalism’

Crackdown to close dole ‘backpay’ loophole

WHAT’S ON TODAY

Sydney: Liberal Party Federal Council is set to meet and decide on the new federal director. It’s expected to be party loyalist Andrew Hirst.

Cooma: Disgraced stockbroker Oliver Curtis, husband of PR queen Roxy Jacencko, is expected to be released from prison today.

Melbourne: Ministers Alan Tudge, Greg Hunt and Michael Sukkar are expected to apologise to Victoria’s highest court today, for comments made about the judiciary in The Australian last week. A week ago in court the ministers refused to apologise, but they have changed course as contempt of court charges loomed. It’s unclear if the MPs will apologise in person or through their lawyer.

Melbourne: Chief Justice of the Victorian Supreme Court Marilyn Warren will speak at the Law Institute of Victoria’s Government Lawyers Conference. She has been presiding over the case of the three ministers.

THE COMMENTARIAT

Call the Finsbury Park attack what it is: right-wing terrorism — Waleed Aly (The Age): “It was a theme more subtly picked up in reporting here, with The Australian’s lead story speaking of an unattributed “fear” this was “a revenge attack for three Islamic State-inspired strikes in Britain over the past three months”. Funny, that’s exactly how Osama bin Laden used to describe these things.”

Liberal party machine needs an influx and oiling — David Crowe (The Australian $): “The falling membership has come at the same time as rising hatreds over the toppling of Abbott two years ago and subsequent divisions over everything from renewable energy to superannuation tax hikes and Catholic school funding.”

Jay Weatherill better at spreading blame than work — Michael Owen (The Australian $): “South Australia still has the highest jobless rate in the nation, stuck at around 7 per cent, the same as when Koutsantonis handed down his second consecutive “jobs” budget last year.”

Our military could be making an actual difference to a real threat — Catherine McGregor (The Daily Telegraph $): “My own view is that for both military and diplomatic reasons we should urgently commit combat forces to this fight. We should apply our finite military resources to assisting the Duterte regime destroy this enclave of foreign fighters in Marawi.”

TODAY IN TRUMP

Donald Trump has backed away from his suggestion that conversations between himself and the FBI director he fired, James Comey, were taped. Trump hinted at the possibility after reports about conversations between him and Comey started appearing in the press. But today, Trump sent two tweets that said:

“With all of the recently reported electronic surveillance, intercepts, unmasking and illegal leaking of information, I have no idea…”

“…whether there are “tapes” or recordings of my conversations with James Comey, but I did not make, and do not have, any such recordings.”

THE WORLD

The violence in Afghanistan continues, with 30 killed and twice as many injured after a suicide bomb was detonated among civilians queuing to receive their pay from a bank. The attack occurred in the Helmand province, where the Taliban has a strong presence. The group claimed responsibility for the bombing. — The Guardian

Senate Republicans have released their bill to repeal Obamacare. While Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell wants a vote as soon as next week, both moderate and far-right Republicans are yet to make up their minds on the legislation. Four Republicans have already said they oppose the bill in its current form, and McConnell can only afford to lose two Republican votes. — Politico

British Prime Minister Theresa May has said EU residents in the UK will be offered full rights if they have lived in the country for more than five years, so long as British citizens living in the EU are offered the same. The status of Europeans living in the UK is one of the key issues to be sorted out as part of Brexit negotiations. — BBC

WHAT WE’RE READING

And just like that, Google becomes the world’s largest jobs board (Co.Design): “The search tool should do a lot to streamline the job hunt. It can even give you a desktop alert or email notification as new jobs matching your criteria are posted … but on a broader level, what’s so incredible about this feature is how swiftly and efficiently Google can disrupt an industry, just by adding some new capabilities to the Swiss army knife that is Search.”

Life and death in Apple’s forbidden city (The Observer): “If you know of Foxconn, there’s a good chance it’s because you’ve heard of the suicides. In 2010, Longhua assembly-line workers began killing themselves. Worker after worker threw themselves off the towering dorm buildings, sometimes in broad daylight, in tragic displays of desperation – and in protest at the work conditions inside. There were 18 reported suicide attempts that year alone and 14 confirmed deaths. Twenty more workers were talked down by Foxconn officials.”

Who is Saudi Arabia’s new crown prince? (Washington Post): “The close ties that are said to have developed between MBS and Jared Kushner could be instrumental in packaging the “new” Saudi Arabia under a similarly ambitious political neophyte dismissive of tradition and willing to think outside of the box as a cornerstone of the administration’s approach to the Middle East, for good or ill.”

Saudi Arabia deports 15,000 Qatari camels (Foreign Policy): “Saudi Arabia and other Arab nations accused Qatar of financing terrorism, a charge Doha denies. But camel herders want nothing to do with politics.”

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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