Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Rudd says Qld 'fearmongering' on boats

It sounds like there is reason for concern

IT'S time for the federal coalition and their Queensland counterparts to stop fearmongering on asylum seekers, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd says.

Four asylum seekers have been intercepted crossing the Torres Strait in recent days, prompting warnings from Queensland and federal Liberals that the state could become the new destination for boat people.

"I think it's time that Mr Abbott and his team, particularly those up here in far north Queensland, stopped the fearmongering," Mr Rudd told reporters in Townsville on Tuesday.

Premier Campbell Newman has warned that asylum seekers would use the "porous" border between Papua New Guinea and Queensland to enter the country after being resettled under the Rudd government's PNG solution.

Mr Rudd said it didn't matter where asylum seekers came from, if they arrived on a boat without a visa they would not be settled in Australia.

"Whether it's through Christmas Island or whether it's across the Torres Strait or whether it's from Antarctica, they'll be handled the same under this policy," the prime minister said.

Mr Rudd's comments came as another 39 single adult men were transferred to PNG's Manus Island under Labor's hardline resettlement policy.

Since Mr Rudd announced his PNG arrangement on July 19, 33 boats with 2185 passengers have arrived in Australian waters.

Of those people, 236 have been sent to Manus Island.

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott said the movement of asylum seekers into the Torres Strait showed that the PNG deal on its own was not effective.

"All it does is open up a new front for the people smugglers," he told reporters at a campaign event on Sydney's outskirts.


Tony Abbott to ease out the Greens from the lower house

OPPOSITION Leader Tony Abbott will today direct the Liberal Party to preference the Greens behind Labor in all seats across the country in a bid to ensure the party is wiped from the lower house of parliament.

It will mean the Greens' only current lower house MP, Adam Bandt, will almost certainly lose his seat of Melbourne on September 7 - in an election gift to the ALP.

It will also guarantee that Deputy Prime Minister Anthony Albanese keeps his inner-city Sydney seat of Grayndler, which Labor holds with just a 4 per cent margin against the minor party.

The Daily Telegraph has learned that Mr Abbott is expected to announce the decision today in Brisbane - in a reversal of its policy in 2010 to put Labor last - and will claim it as a matter of principle of putting deeds to his words.

"You don't normally go around giving Labor seats. But this was a matter of principle," one senior Liberal source told The Daily Telegraph.


Australians are being far less green than they were

The closer you get to Green ideas, the more you see that they've got hairs on them

WE'RE being far less green.  Carbon offsetting among plane passengers is down by as much as half, as is use of renewable energy, although its popularity is predicted to surge if the carbon tax is axed.

Analysis of official figures shows the number of households using at least some green power is down by 150,000 from a high of 940,000 reached as the first Rudd government tried - but ultimately failed - to introduce a carbon pollution reduction scheme, or CPRS, in 2009.

Nationally, among those homes that still use some green power, sales are down by 51 percent, data shows. Customer numbers are 16 per cent lower.

Victoria has recorded the biggest fall in use and customer numbers, down 61 percent and 39 percent respectively.

The fall in usage in South Australia has been greater than the national average, down 53 percent. Customer numbers are 11 percent lower.

This suggests South Australians have been more likely to downgrade the contracted proportion of green power than people in other states.

In NSW, falls have almost mirrored the Australia-wide trends, with use down 52 percent and customer numbers 19 percent lower.

Queenslanders have dramatically cut back the proportion of green power in their electricity supply, rather than ditching it altogether.

This is why usage is down 44 per cent, but customer numbers have bucked the national trend to rise 11 per cent.

The only area to record increases in customer numbers and usage has been Canberra.

Origin, which has eight times the number of green power customers as any other energy company, expects a turnaround in usage across the country should the Coalition win the election and be able to repeal the carbon tax.

"If carbon pricing goes away and people feel they'd like to do more again, I suspect those numbers would climb," said Origin's executive general manager of corporate affairs Phil Craig.

The Federal Government does not acknowledge the carbon tax had been a factor in the decline of green power's popularity, despite the biggest fall in customer numbers occurring in the quarter straight after then prime minister Julia Gillard announced details of a "price on pollution" in 2011.

A spokesman for new Climate Change Minister Mark Butler instead said the fall was due to the rapid increase in the number of houses with solar panels.

"Since 2007, over one million solar PV (photo voltaic systems) and 600,000 solar hot water heaters have been installed," Mr Butler's spokeswoman said. "And some of these households have decided not to continue purchasing green power because they are already generating their own renewable energy."

Mr Craig noted the base price of electricity had risen substantially, making it "a little bit more problematic" for people to pay a further premium for green power.

That premium has narrowed due to the imposition of the carbon tax because the levy does not apply to renewable energy.

The premium would likely expand if the tax is removed because the base price of electricity would fall.

Meanwhile, the number of plane passengers neutralising emissions has also plunged.

Qantas said the proportion of customers offsetting emissions had halved from 10 percent in 2009 to 5 percent now.

Virgin said offsetting among its passengers was down 30 percent from 2009 levels.

A Qantas spokesman said: "The proportion of passengers choosing to offset their emissions peaked in late 2009, when the world's attention was focused on the Copenhagen climate summit. So it's perhaps unsurprising that the percentage has dropped since then.

"While we'd love to see the number rise again, the program is voluntary and the choice is entirely up to the individual passenger."


Underperforming NSW teachers to face dismissal

PRINCIPALS will find it easier to call out bad teacher behaviour and act on it under a NSW government overhaul that will see underperforming teachers get the boot.

From next semester, principals will be given new powers to deal with teachers who fail to attend playground duty, are late for class, don't to turn up to parent teacher interviews or refuse instructions.

"We simply can't accept that kind of recalcitrant behaviour," NSW Education Minister Adrian Piccoli said.

The get-tough measure is part of a $150 million package of reforms to boost the quality of teaching in NSW, announced earlier this year.

The crackdown comes ahead of a fresh round of enterprise bargaining with teachers next month.

Department of Education director-general Michele Bruniges said it was about dealing with a small group of teachers who were repeat offenders. "We need to be able to call it and deal with it," she said.

Mr Piccoli described it as "more like a private sector approach to performance management".

"Parents and teachers have made it very clear to me that they want teachers who are underperforming out of the system," he told reporters.  "It's going to be a fair process but a tougher process than what exists already."

Mr Piccoli said teachers who failed to live up to the standards set out in a new code of conduct could be sacked, demoted, fined or cautioned.

"There are a range of teachers who are underperforming," he said.   "Those teachers need to know there is a process in place and they face dismissal."

Mr Piccoli also announced a raft of scholarships worth up to $30,000, with the first ten teaching cadetships to be offered to high-achieving school leavers by the end of 2013.

"This is about making sure that we have the best teachers, particularly in the schools were we need them most," he said.

Announced earlier this year, teaching students will have to sit mandatory literacy and numeracy tests before being allowed into classrooms.

School leavers wanting to study at university will also need HSC band 5 results in a minimum of three subjects, one of which must be English.

Meanwhile, new pay arrangements mean salaries will be based on meeting standards rather than employment length.


1 comment:

Paul said...

Do you remember some years back when a vessel with a pack of Asian illegals just sailed up to Holloways Beach in Cairns? They actually came ashore and started asking directions to the city before it dawned on anyone what had happened. There is effectively no viable border control up here. The TI group are a drug smugglers haven, and I've told you in the past of the consequences to the local health services of PNG Nationals wandering over to Saibai or Boigu with their multi-resistant TB. It should be a piece of cake for a few muscle-headed Iranians with a bit of motivation to make it across.