Tuesday, June 07, 2011

More contempt for the voters from Gillard

JULIA Gillard's Malaysian solution is close to being signed despite polls showing two-thirds of Australians now wanting the deal ditched before it is done.

A Malaysian government source told Fairfax newspapers today the Government has agreed to the final text of a memorandum of understanding between the two countries.

The plan to send 800 asylum seekers to Malaysia in exchange for 4000 officially recognised refugees is now more unpopular than the carbon tax.

A Galaxy poll conducted exclusively for The Daily Telegraph revealed 66 per cent of voters were opposed to sending boat people to a nation which still canes refugees.

But the figure is likely to be higher now with the national poll conducted over two days before it was revealed children would also be part of the human swap.

Almost half of those polled were strongly opposed, with only 5 per cent claiming to strongly support the plan. Just 26 per cent showed any form of support at all.

The Prime Minister now faces significant public hostility to the two main areas she promised to fix after rolling Kevin Rudd for the prime ministership: boat people and climate change.Galaxy CEO David Briggs said there was now overwhelming opposition to the Gillard government's plans on a number of fronts.

A total of 58 per cent surveyed were opposed to the carbon tax.

The government is now under intense pressure to drop the deal with high-profile human rights activists conceding John Howard's Pacific Solution was more humane.

Ms Gillard and Immigration Minister Chris Bowen have struggled to explain how the policy will deal with unaccompanied minors, first admitting they would be included, before claiming they would be dealt with on a case-by-case basis.


Leftists can't stand the light

Communications Department spends $268,000 on lawyers to fight FOI requests

COMMUNICATIONS Minister Stephen Conroy's secrecy-obsessed department has spent more than $268,000 on lawyers to challenge Freedom of Information requests. The services of a prominent law firm over just five months since the end of January included one matter which cost taxpayers $77,000.

Waste Watchers in an ongoing campaign in The Courier-Mail to track how your taxpayer money is being spent by all levels of government, after a recent poll showed 70 per cent of Queenslanders believe governments are wasting money but none of our politicians admit to getting it wrong.

The rollout of the $36 billion National Broadband Network and the $308 million set-top boxes scheme are among projects overseen by the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy.

Opposition communications and broadband spokesman Malcolm Turnbull said Mr Conroy and his department were using the outside law firm to challenge the release of information.

"Stephen Conroy seems to be sparing no expense in trying to avoid scrutiny," Mr Turnbull said yesterday. "That's what they're doing."

A department spokesman said staff made decisions about the release of documents but $268,000 was spent to "provide legal advice and related legal services to DBCDE staff involved in processing requests and making decisions."

One Government contract showed $22,000 spent on legal services in just one day on February 11 but the spokesman claimed it was a clerical error with the services provided over several months. It was unclear if any of the Freedom of Information requests were for the NBN Co.

The Government had exempted NBN Co from Freedom of Information laws but the Greens won an amendment to allow for the scrutiny. "If the NBN Co were a publicly-listed company it would be vastly more accountable than it is today," Mr Turnbull said. "Because it is owned by the taxpayer, there is a complete lack of transparency."

A spokeswoman for NBN Co said a Freedom of Information officer had been employed and applications would be answered from the middle of this month.

The Greens said NBN Co would be subject to the same Freedom of Information requirements as Medibank and Australia Post.

The FOI stoush is the latest setback for the much-criticised $36 billion fibre-optic rollout slammed by the Opposition and regularly attacked by the likes of retailer Gerry Harvey as inefficient. Even Brisbane City Council claims the network could rip off customers.


Quis magistros ipsos docebit?

Teacher graduates face test before registration

ASPIRING primary school teachers are expected to face questions about animal groupings, energy and literacy processes in Queensland's controversial teacher test.

Sample questions of what teaching graduates could face in the nation's first teacher pre-registration exam have been placed on the Queensland College of Teachers website.

The test, which hopeful primary school teachers will be required to pass before they can attain registration in Queensland from the end of this year, will examine a graduate's literacy, numeracy and science skills.

One sample question asks graduates to place a kangaroo, tadpole, echidna, emu and lizard into its right animal grouping - fish, reptiles, amphibians, birds or mammals.

Another in the science category requires graduates to use their knowledge of sound and heat energy to answer a question.

Under numeracy, graduates are asked when a train is scheduled to arrive if it leaves Mount Isa at 1.30pm on Monday and the trip takes 20 hours and 40 minutes.

In literacy, one question asks which word is a preposition and another asks graduates to sequence the typical behaviours of a child learning to read.

It will also test their knowledge of course content and teaching.

The test follows a recommendation by Professor Geoff Masters in a review of how to lift Queensland students' literacy and numeracy standards, after the state came second last in the first national tests in 2008.

The Queensland Teachers Union and Queensland Deans of Education Forum initially said the tests were offensive to universities and a double-up of what was already being taught.

QDEF chair Professor Wendy Patton said extensive consultation had been undertaken on the exams and while there were still some concerns, they were waiting to see the actual tests before making any further judgment.

The Queensland College of Teachers (QCT) website reveals aspiring primary school teachers will face two 90-minute exams with 60 questions each on literacy and numeracy and one 60-minute science test with 40 questions.

The computer-based exams will take place in designated testing centres across Queensland at the end of the year. Teaching graduates will be able to sit the exam as many times as needed to pass and attain registration.

"The purpose of the QCT pre-registration test is to ensure that aspiring primary teachers meet threshold levels of knowledge about the teaching of literacy, numeracy and science and have sound levels of content knowledge in these areas," the QCT website states.

QCT director John Ryan said the tests would not be a panacea for proficiency but would ensure graduates teaching in Queensland schools met a minimum standard.


Safety fencing 'art' cost Victorian Council $7000

A MAYOR has turned on his own council after it spent $7000 on public artwork made from orange plastic safety fencing. The artist said yesterday the aim of the art was to create confusion. But the mayor blasted his council officers for approving the project.

Moreland mayor Cr Oscar Yildiz said he couldn't believe that so much was spent putting the orange mesh on buildings, power poles, and around trees in an Oak Park shopping strip. "A bit of mesh that utility companies use to cordon off areas - to call that art is a load of rubbish," he said. "I've got a seven-year-old daughter and she could have done this for free and done a better job."

Cr Yildiz said that he found out about the project only on Friday, and it was too late to cancel it. "It literally is the biggest waste of money that we've done under my leadership at council, and I'll certainly be ensuring that this doesn't happen again," he said. "People thought that mesh was there to cordon off a tree or an area for some electricity lines or concreting or something."

But deputy mayor Cr Alice Pryor said the Permeable Barrier series by artist Tim Craker was deliberately installed alongside council roadworks at the Snell Grove shopping centre. "Public art installations create public discussion, raise questions, and engage passers-by in the new works being done," she said.

Mr Craker, in Turkey on a self-financed arts residency, said he wanted to create confusion about "what's art and what's function - to make people think about something that we would see and not look at. But some might say 'Hang on, that's not normal safety fencing, that's had something done to it, and what's it doing up on a wall on a building?' So that sort of controversy is good from one point of view."

Mr Craker said the amount he was paid was minuscule compared with the cost of the roadworks, and "the idea is to focus a bit of attention on Oak Park, which as a shopping centre could do with some attention".

Cr Yildiz asked why $7000 was paid to Mr Craker when the materials would have cost a few hundred dollars. "Surely this guy didn't spend $6500 on labour for sticking a couple of things around a couple of poles?"

Ratepayers Victoria president Jack Davis said Cr Yildiz should protect public funds by dumping the project and recouping the cash.


No comments: