Tuesday, April 10, 2012
Labor on the nose in every state
THE Gillard Government is on the nose in every state in Australia, according to the latest Newspoll in The Australian newspaper today.
The poll shows federal Labor is languishing behind the coalition on primary vote and on a two-party preferred basis in every state.
The paper says the Government's electoral standing has sunk well below its 2010 election result, with its support in every voting group and every state lagging behind the election day vote that stripped Labor of its parliamentary majority and forced it into minority rule.
The poll, taken between January and March, shows the Government is down from between three and six percentage points on primary vote and two to five points after a distribution of preferences.
Its nightmare state remains Queensland where there has been a three percentage point swing on the two party-preferred vote against the ALP since August 2010.
It would wipe out all but one or two of the eight federal Queensland MPs in an election.
Labor party politician distances himself from the Labor party
Even he admits that after all the lies, the Labor party brand stinks. Gillard promised no carbon tax and Qld. Premier Anna Bligh promised no sale of State assets. Both broke their promises. Who could now believe anything they say?
The Brisbane city council covers a huge area so is the biggest municipal prize in Australia. Brisbane apparently has a bigger budget than Tasmania
LABOR'S big hope for wresting Brisbane's City Hall from the LNP has asked voters to judge him on his policies and not by the "challenged brand" he represents.
The ALP has only seven seats in State Parliament, down from 51, after an election thumping by the LNP last month. Speculation is rife that voters are not done with punishing the party just yet.
Labor lord mayoral candidate Ray Smith acknowledges he and his team are fighting an uphill battle for votes at the April 28 council poll.
But Mr Smith said he believed voters would look to local issues when deciding who they want to run the city. "Seventeen months ago, when I quit my job as CEO of my own business ... to run for the lord mayoralty, the (Labor) brand was challenged then," Mr Smith said. "Seventeen months later, the brand is just as challenged, if not more.
"What I have always hoped for after 17 months and what I hope for even more now is that the people of Brisbane will judge me on my merits, they'll judge my policies on their merits and they will judge the team on their merits. If they do that we are a very good chance."
Lord Mayor Graham Quirk has also asked voters to judge him on his record and policies and has highlighted his good relationship with Premier Campbell Newman.
But he would not speculate yesterday on what impact the state election would have on the LNP's chances of retaining or increasing its majority on a local level.
"I will be putting out there a very positive plan and vision for our city and then people can judge that on April 28," Cr Quirk said.
Labor holds 10 Brisbane City Council wards and just three with a margin of more than 4 per cent Morningside, Wynnum Manly and Deagon.
These wards are within electorates traditionally held by Labor on a state level, but which fell to the LNP on March 24. The party's most marginal wards include Central, Doboy, Karawatha, Northgate and The Gabba ward, which is within former premier Anna Bligh's electorate of South Brisbane.
The Gabba councillor Helen Abrahams faces going into an election where her constituents have to number their third ballot paper in a month following the resignation of Ms Bligh.
The LNP holds only two of its 15 wards by a margin of less than 4 per cent Enoggera and Jamboree.
Unseasonable cold in Australia
Due, no doubt, to global warming. Warming causes cold, don't you see? It's like the socialist Hitler being a Rightist or the ban on plastic bags saving trees: Easy
IF you ducked outside this morning for coffee and mistook your quiet Australian street for an icy plain in Siberia, there's good reason. Today is cold. Really cold. Especially if you live in Canberra.
But first, let's back up a bit.
1. This is Australia. This is not England. Australia is meant to be warm. England is meant to be cold.
2. It's April. The average temperature is supposedly 22.4 degrees in Sydney, 20.3 in Melbourne and 17.3 in Hobart.
3. Hobart is in Tasmania, which is further away from the equator than mainland Australia, so it gets pretty cold down there.
With these three irrefutable facts in mind, we ask: why is it so pitifully freezing today, on Tuesday April 10?
Sydney commuters confronted a wintry chill of just 12 degrees this morning, re-enforced by nasty, nasty winds.
The temp was even lower down south, where Victorians put on a couple extra layers beneath their Snuggies to brace the 9.4-degree wake-up surprise.
Brisbane's 19 degrees, but it's always warm there, and so too the 25-degree anomaly that is Darwin.
But it gets worse. Hobart's finest are rocking around in 7 degrees. And if you're a federal politician, or otherwise a resident of Canberra, it's just 1 degree.
The snow sectors copped it the worst. Thredbo got down to -5.5 degrees overnight. Minus degrees? Why are we talking about minus temperatures, in Australia, in April?
Pesky terms like "cold front" and "wind chill" are partly to blame, which are particularly relevant for Victorians, according to the Weather Channel.
"Cold south-westerly winds in the fronts wake also brought frequent showers to southern districts, which fell as snow above an elevation of about 800 metres," said senior meteorologist Tom Saunders.
"The frigid polar air also produced small hail and thunder over central and eastern districts. The coldest air will move out into the Tasman Sea today, allowing the showers to ease and daytime temperatures to gradually rise over the coming days but overnight minimums will remain chilly for the next few nights."
The Snowy Mountains lived up to their name by delivering the first snow of the season to NSW.
"We usually get some colder outbreaks about this time of year," said a spokesperson from the Bureau of Meteorology. "It was fairly cool - I know that myself because I rode into work on my scooter."
How to get into university: Go to a poor school
Unpopular or unreasonable regulations will always spark attempts to get around or exploit them
AFFLUENT students from elite schools are manipulating a system designed to give disadvantaged students a better chance of getting into university.
School and university sources have told The Advertiser that students are enrolling in one subject at a disadvantaged school the year after they complete Year 12 if they fail to gain entry to university.
This gives them access to bonus-points schemes to bump up their scores for when they again try to gain entry to a university course.
Each of South Australia's public universities run bonus-points schemes that provide up to six extra points towards students' university entrance scores if they attended a school where graduates were under-represented at university.
The bonus points apply regardless of whether marks from the subject studied at the disadvantaged school are used to make up the student's university entrance score.
It is understood students must meet the school's attendance requirements, submit all assignments and attend exams to qualify for the bonus points.
A university source said the scam was not considered widespread but admitted it was an issue. "It's a rort. The university's policy to have students from diverse backgrounds in key courses is being subverted by this action," the source said. "It's undermining the intention of a good policy and is something the university authorities should address urgently."
A senior private school source said it was understood students from several schools had taken this action when striving to get into competitive university degrees, such as medicine.
National Union of Students president Donherra Walmsley said students undertaking this action were manipulating a system designed to address disadvantage in our education system.
"Giving students from disadvantaged schools bonus points is something we support," she said. "But the system assumes people will do the right thing and (it) can be exploited if people are dishonest and misrepresenting themselves. "I would have thought parents being complicit in this behaviour is teaching children the wrong thing."
Ms Walmsley said bridging the gap between disadvantaged and advantaged students was difficult and would be made harder when students misused schemes aimed at reducing that gap.
SA Tertiary Admissions Centre information and publications manager Greg Coote said that, when applying bonus points, the centre only looked at a student's last school of attendance and did not check if the student had completed the majority of their subjects at another school. "This is a possibility because the code for the last school somebody enrolled in is the code used to judge if bonus points are applied," he said.
"There is no question there are people who have moved out of a school to another and gained from bonus points ... but there are legitimate reasons they could be moving."
Association of Independent Schools of SA executive director Garry Le Duff said he had not heard of students manipulating the system. "If it is occurring, maybe there needs to be a review of how the (bonus points) scheme is managed," he said.
The University of Adelaide would not comment when asked if it was concerned about the rort and did not reveal if it was doing anything to stop the misuse.
"The Fairway Access Scheme is designed to assist students attending schools not well represented in higher education, with an extra opportunity to study at the University of Adelaide," a university spokeswoman said. "Its fundamental purpose is to support those students most in need, thereby improving access to, and participation in, university.
"We review all of our pathways on a regular basis, in the interests of both equity and transparency."
His Eminence Archbishop Pell debates atheist Dawkins
IT WAS a match-up made in Q&A heaven: two pugilists of opposing convictions going head-to-head in a debate about the existence of God.
Australia's highest-ranking Catholic and Sydney's archbishop, Cardinal George Pell, spent an hour with evolutionary biologist and celebrity atheist, Professor Richard Dawkins taking questions covering everything from evolution, resurrection and eternal damnation.
Frustration and something bordering on barely concealed mutual disdain boiled over more than once during the ABC television show.
Charles Darwin was claimed as a theist by the cardinal, because Darwin "couldn't believe that the immense cosmos and all the beautiful things in the world came about either by chance or out of necessity" - a claim disputed by Professor Dawkins as "just not true".
Cardinal Pell won applause when he shot back: "It's on page 92 of his autobiography. Go and have a look."
The clergyman remained unmoved on gay marriage and climate change, but he said evolution was "probably" right, and that atheists could "certainly" get into heaven. Professor Dawkins declared he was "trying to be charitable" by suggesting there was no way Cardinal Pell meant the body would literally be resurrected.
The clergyman's view that people would return after death in some kind of physical form earlier had been dismissed by Professor Dawkins. "The brain is going to rot, that's all there is to it," he said.
Cardinal Pell said: "Mr Dawkins, I don't say things I don't mean. "I believe it because I believe the man who told us that was also the son of God. He said, 'This is my body, this is my blood'. And I'd much prefer to listen to Him and take his word than yours."