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I wasn't really paying attention to the news on the weekend, so I'm only just reading up on this.

Labor has announced a $2.8 billion cut to tertiary education in order to pay for the Gonksi report recommendations for primary and secondary education.

The cuts are:
  • $1.2 billion - students will have to repay Student Start up Scholarships
  • $900 million - 2% efficiency dividend
  • $500 million - capping self-education tax deductions at $2000
  • $230 million - abolishing the 10% discount for paying HECs up front
  •  
Total savings: $2.8 billion


So what is the Gonski report?

The report's aim was to decrease the growing performance gap between our best and our worst schools. Which in effect means the gap between independent and government schools.

It's recommendation was to introduce a Schooling Resource Standard (SRS) made up of a base amount of funding per student for primary and secondary student, and then adding a loading on top of that based on special needs.

The Government has a website explaining it here: http://www.schoolfunding.gov.au/what-does-new-funding-model-look

Unsurprisingly, Catholic and independent schools aren't happy. They'll still get funding, but their SRS will be reduced depending on how much the parents can afford to pay.

There's a good article on The Conversation on why this is necessary if the gap in education results is to be tackled.

My initial thoughts are:
  1. The aims of the Gonski reports are laudable
  2. The money has to come from somewhere, but
  3. But it seems counterproductive to improve secondary education at the cost of tertiary education
But maybe I'm wrong on that point. Maybe reducing the performance gap in secondary schools would mean more, or at least a wider range of, students would have access to tertiary education.

Or maybe it's a false dichotomy to play tertiary education off against secondary education, and there are other ways to fund the Gonski recommendations.

Thoughts?

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Election on Saturday. Trying to work out how I'm going to preference my Senate ticket. 60 candidates. No idea who most of them are.

So I've been doing some research.

But only some. This is not an in-depth analysis. There are six senatorial seats up for election. They will most likely go to Labor or Liberal candidates, with perhaps a Green or a Family First. The others have, as candidate Joe Toscano puts it, "a snowflake’s chance in hell" of being elected, so I'm not spending too much time on them. I just want a rough idea of who deserves to go last.


Big List of Candidates )
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Remember when Tony Abbott auctioned off a surfing lesson with him for charity, GetUp won the auction, and they were going to send a refugee named Riz Wakil?

Well, Tony Abbott has never honoured that promise. Now GetUp want to rent a mobile billboard and follow Abbott around, asking when he'll make good on that promise?

Which is so hilarious I'm happy to donate.





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So. Kevin Rudd talked tough in his press conference last night. But in the end, after it became clear that he was going to be pushed, he quietly jumped instead.

Which right there is a summary of what went wrong with his leadership.

Rudd was elected on a giddy wave of hope. After ten years of Howard, we wanted change. We wanted someone good, someone moral, someone to lead us out of the nastiness and dark of Howard's right-wing 1950s dystopia. So our hopes were pinned on Kevin '07.

He was an unlikely choice. He had funky glasses and he spoke Chinese. But he was uncharismatic, Labor Right, religious, morally conservative, details orientated rather than big picture.

Rudd won. His support was massive. And he scored some big hits: signing Kyoto, issuing the Apology to the Stolen Generation, steering Australia relatively unharmed through the Global Financial Crisis.

But hope is a fragile thing, and quickly turns to bitterness. Rudd tried to appeal to our hopes by calling the Emissions Trading Scheme the greatest moral challenge of our time. Wonderful rhetoric. Until he found he couldn't win that fight, and just filed it away for later. Result: all those true believers that voted him in suddenly felt betrayed.

We were already feeling betrayed by Peter Garret, who went from being an icon of Australian punk rock to being a sad joke. (Can anyone even listen to Midnight Oil these days without squirming?)

And then Kevin's fight with the mining industry was just clumsy.

He sank in the polls. The Labor Right faction saw their chance, and held him under. It was as swift and as painless as these things can be.

And now Australia has a new Prime Minister.

I'll admit, I know very little about Julia GIllard. She was a lefty in her uni days, and an industrial relations lawyer. A much better communicator that Rudd.

Australia's first female PM, too. That's exciting. It would have been better if she'd won it openly at the polling booths rather than behind closed doors. But it's a start. A small victory. Our second and third female PMs will be the real sign of gender equality, though.

Her big test will be: can she defeat Abbott at the next election?

I assume the Opposition will play the "the people never voted for her" card. The people never voted for Abbott, either. But really, that's a side issue.

Rudd talked big, but failed to deliver. Gillard needs to start kicking balls into the net. Her election slogan needs to be "Julia Gillard Gets Shit Done." She's got the IR background to batter Abbott over WorkChoices Strikes Back. Plus there's the fact that she's a successful, unmarried, modern woman versus Abbott's "virginity is a gift" statements.

What I want to hear is Gillard's actual policies. Anyone got some links?

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