Thursday, June 27, 2013

The comedy act of the day:  Latham likens Rudd to a snake

"Biffo" never changes.  He still hates everyone,  particularly members of his own party

FORMER Labor leader Mark Latham has likened Kevin Rudd to a rat and a "snake in the pit" for ousting Julia Gillard from The Lodge.

Mr Latham, who lost the ALP leadership in 2005, described Mr Rudd's win over Ms Gillard in Wednesday's leadership ballot as the victory of a saboteur.

He said the message Mr Rudd was sending to Australia's youth was "to stab people in the back".

"It's to be a rat and a snake in the pit - that's the message that Kevin Rudd sends," Mr Latham told Fairfax radio.

He said Labor has "lost all sense of any moral perspective on how to conduct themselves".

"It's to leak to Laurie Oakes without having the guts to put your name to your words, it's to destabilise, it's to go behind people's backs."

Mr Latham said he doubted Mr Rudd had changed since being toppled as prime minister in 2010.

"Does it look like he's changed? All those lies about his intentions, all those lies about not wanting to challenge again," Mr Latham said.

"The saboteur of 2010 is now the leader of the 2013 election campaign."


NSW government to introduce new bed tax on public housing tenants with spare bedrooms

The same policy in Britain caused quite an uproar recently but it is plainly just

PUBLIC housing tenants with spare bedrooms will be charged a weekly tax as the state government commits to moving 500 people a year into smaller accommodation.

Community Services Minister Pru Goward will today announce details of the controversial bed tax, which will be charged to all public housing tenants who have an extra bedroom and refuse to move to a smaller property.

Singles with extra bedrooms will be charged an extra $20 a week, and couples will be charged an extra $30 a week under the tax.

Ms Goward said there were more than 17,000 public housing properties with three or more rooms that are occupied by singles or couples, and she is prepared to cop some resistance to the idea.

"I ask all the tenants with vacant bedrooms in their property to think about the needy families with children who remain on the waiting list," Ms Goward said.

"These tenants should think about putting up their hand to move to a more suitably sized property.

"The government has looked at a number of ways to encourage more families with children into multi-bedroom homes and were unsuccessful. We need a stronger incentive."

The government expects to reap $2.2 million from the rehousing of tenants, but Ms Goward said it was not a revenue-raising scheme.

The state government will target suburbs with high numbers of public housing tenants with extra rooms, where there are large numbers of families on the waiting list that need those rooms. It is understood Liverpool, Mount Druitt and Shellharbour will be the first suburbs targeted when the push begins in September.

Ms Goward said tenants would only be charged the tax if they refused to move: "Everybody will benefit, existing tenants will be rehoused more quickly, families waiting for help will receive it sooner and the NSW taxpayer whose dollars will be used more efficiently (will benefit)."

Blake Johan, 21, was born with cerebral palsy and his family of four have been on the government housing waiting list for seven years. They currently live in private housing.

Blake's father, Dean, said the bed tax initiative was a good way to get the right residents into the right homes.

"If they're not using the room they should be paying extra for it," Mr Johan, from Barrack Heights, said.

"There's plenty of people waiting and waiting."


Australian children's education dropping further against world standards

THROWING money at schools is no guarantee children will do well, with Australian student performance declining on most international scales despite increased funding.

Despite enjoying a growth in public spending of more than four times the OECD average, test results across most rankings have fallen, according to a snapshot of world education released yesterday.

It comes as Julia Gillard used her final caucus meeting to confirm education reform will be a key focus of Labor's election campaign.

With Queensland, Victoria and Western Australia unlikely to sign on to Gonski before the Prime Minister's June 30 deadline this Sunday, heated debate over school funding is set to continue in the lead up to the September election.

The new data also reveals Australian teachers are among the best paid in the world.  Teachers' salaries are above the OECD average and have risen steadily, some 13 per cent since 2000 at all education levels.

This increase is below the OECD average salary rise of 17 per cent however, teachers in Australia earn 91 per cent of the salary of other workers similar age and education level, compared with an average of as little as 80 per cent.

The Education at a Glance report said spending on schools in Australia increased by 24 per cent between 2008 and 2010 - more than four times the average increase of five per cent.

Education experts said the data was proof "the system isn't working".

"When you have that sort of substantial increase in expenditure and you are not getting improved effectiveness or an increase in student outcomes, it's just clear evidence that we are spending in the wrong areas," Dr Ben Jensen, director of school policy for the Grattan Institute, said.

Dr Jensen said spending on "fads" such as laptops for every child had contributed to the problem.

"This is only partly to do with the federal government. This is also an issue for the state governments and the non government sector as well, which are wasting just as much money," he said.

The Prime Minister's national plan for school improvement, or Gonski reforms, pledge to restore Australian schoolkids to the top five countries by 2025. In the most recent international ranking, released last December, Australian Year 4 students came 27th in reading.

But Dr Kevin Donnelly from the Education Standards Institute said the return to the top of international rankings "won't happen without significant changes" to how schools are run.

"Just spending money for spending sake doesn't make sense. There is a lot of evidence that even with increased expenditure standards haven't gone up," he said.

"If you look at some of those countries that outperform Australia in testing, they spend a lot less money."

Improved curriculum quality, better teachers and a stronger focus on discipline were all contributors to student success, he said.


A failed last throw:  Unmarried and barren feminist tries to win the Mumsy vote.  Stunt backfires

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard has been accused of spinning a yarn after a PR stunt to show off her domestic skills unravelled yesterday.

The Welsh-born leader came under fire for incongruous photos showing her knitting a toy kangaroo present for Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge’s baby.

The photo-shoot for Australian Women’s Weekly show the prime minister  - often criticised for her perceived lack of homemaking instincts -  sat in an armchair surrounded by balls of wool and her dog Reuben faithfully by her feet.

‘It’s a cute project to work on,’ she said.  ‘In terms of knitting for Kate’s baby - I knit for babies, in part, because they are smaller projects.  ‘I’ve got not that much time in my life. You can get them done and there’s a sense of satisfaction in having completed it,’ she added.

But the pictures of homely bliss caused her critics to drop their stitches.  They dismissed the domesticated scene as a ‘contrived’, saying Gillard has long made a habit of rejecting feminine presentations.

One columnist wrote she was  ‘giving encouragement to young female politicians by plying a hobby now synonymous with mad old aunts.’

Nationals Senator Fiona Nash said the photos showed ‘a lack of connection’ with the Australian public.

The PM’s press office insisted it was not just a PR opportunity -  even though the magazine said the idea for the shoot came from her spin doctors.

Christopher Pyne, Liberal MP, told reporters: 'We know the prime minister is good at spinning a yarn - and now we have the picture to prove it.'

Gillard, 51, from, Barry, Vale of Glamorgan, has been subjected to several personal attacks recently.

The sexuality of her partner was questioned by an Australian radio host and barbed comments have been aimed at her figure - with friends saying she is the victim of infamous Australian male chauvinism.

Others questioned how her knitting for the royal baby sat with her strong republican stance.

'I campaigned for a yes case. We will get there again,' she told the magazine.

'There is a real sense of respect for the Queen, so I do think a natural moment to look again will be when her reign comes to an end.

‘Prince William and Kate, and their child will still be personalities in Australia; people will still follow their lives with interest,’ she said.


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