Sunday, December 01, 2013

Indonesia ready to work with Australia again

Grievous news for the Leftist hysterics at the ABC and the Sydney Morning Herald

The political row over allegations that Australia spied on Indonesia appeared to ease Wednesday after their leaders issued conciliatory statements and agreed to set up "a code of conduct."

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono told reporters he will send either Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa or a special envoy to Australia to discuss the code of conduct that would allow the two countries to continue cooperating on a number of issues, including intelligence information sharing, military and police.

Jakarta downgraded its relations with Australia last week after it emerged that the phones of Yudhoyono, his wife and other leaders were bugged by Australian agencies in 2009.

Following the reports, cooperation between the militaries and law enforcement agencies of the two countries was suspended, including work on the thorny issue of people smuggling. Indonesia also recalled its ambassador to Australia.

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbot has refused to confirm or deny the reported allegations, which emerged from documents provided by U.S. National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden.

But Yudhoyono said he has received a quick reply to a letter he sent to Abbott outlining his concerns.

"The Australian prime minister's commitment is that Australia will not do anything in the future that will be detrimental or disturb Indonesia," Yudhoyono said, without providing specifics. "This is the important point."

Abbott welcomed Yudhoyono's statement and described the proposed code of conduct as a "good way forward."

"It was a very warm statement. It was a statement that was very positive about Australia," Abbott told reporters in Melbourne on Wednesday.  "I'm going to reflect on the statement over the next day or so and then we'll be responding more fully," he added.


Education  funding model lost in translation

Federal Education Minister Christopher Pyne is today meeting with his state and territory counterparts. On the agenda: scrapping the school funding system that was five years in the making and has not even been implemented yet.

NSW, Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania and the ACT signed bilateral agreements with the former federal Labor government which would have delivered an extra $10 billion in Commonwealth funding between 2014 and 2019, but with only 28% of the funding forthcoming in the first four years. The big cash splash would have taken place in 2018 and 2019, just beyond the current budget forward estimates.

Prior to the federal election, Pyne sensibly refused to commit to the funding slated for 2018 and 2019, promising only to deliver the first four years of the deal. Pyne's decision to get rid of Labor's 'Better Schools' funding model at some point during that time was always on the cards, it has just happened sooner than expected.

A key point to remember is that the federal government does not decide how much funding will be provided to state schools. Each state and territory has its own funding mechanism.

The Better Schools model calculates a nominal amount for each school and then, in the case of state and Catholic schools, hands its share of the total over to state authorities to distribute in their own way. Independent schools are the only schools to receive funding based directly on the Better Schools model.

Another key point is that the Better Schools model is not the same as the 'Gonski' model that was proposed in the review of school funding in 2012. It is much more complicated and difficult to administer and implement.

The most important features of the 'Gonksi' model were that it was simpler, more student-centred, and took a more neutral approach to funding schools in different sectors. These features were lost in the translation to Better Schools.

Hopefully, in the next twelve months, Minister Pyne will come up with a model that achieves the same objectives without breaking the bank. It won't be easy.


Greens urge Labor to back move to challenge re-introduced Temporary Protection Visas

The Greens want no border protection at all.  TPVs were a key element in the Howard strategy that stopped the flow of illegals

The Greens are urging Labor to back their challenge over the recently re-introduced Temporary Protection Visas (TPVs).

The Government has started issuing the visas, which grant refugees protection for up to three years but prevents them from applying for permanent protection, to asylum seekers who are found to be in need of Australia's protection.

The visas allow people to work and access Medicare, however they are denied the opportunity for family reunification.

Reintroducing TPVs, which were abolished by the Labor government in 2008, was a key Coalition election promise.

The Greens are vehemently opposed to the TPV and Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young will try to overturn the visas in the Senate this Monday afternoon by bringing on a disallowance motion for debate.

But Labor's support will be vital if the motion is to succeed.

"Look, this is a test for the Labor party. They went to the election saying they did not support Temporary Protection Visas," Senator Hanson-Young said.

"Back in 2008, they removed John Howard's Temporary Protection Visas.  "They did the right thing then and this is an opportunity to do the right thing again."  It is still unclear how Labor will vote.

If Labor and the Greens do team up in the Senate to abolish the TPVs, Immigration Minister Scott Morrison says there are other forms available.

"My message for the Labor party is, if they want to completely ignore the last election as they have on other issues like the carbon tax, and deny that the coalition has steadfastly held to the position of Temporary Protection Visas being the central plank of our border protection policy, and they want to team up with the Greens to deny that, well that's a matter for the Labor party and they'll have to explain that," he said.

In a statement, shadow immigration minister Richard Marles says that Labor's stance on TPVs is long-standing and well known.  But he also says the legislation put forward by the Government is yet to be considered by the Caucus.


Numbers of Aussie heading to UK drops yet numbers of Brits moving here remains steady after 20 years

AUSTRALIANS are no longer the biggest migrators to the mother country with better a lifestyle, wages and working conditions keeping them at home.

But new figures released in London show the British don't just watch our TV shows, drink our beer and enjoy fierce sporting rivalry; they also continue to flock Down Under to live, in a migration pattern largely unchanged for more than two decades.

The UK's Office for National Statistics report showed in the 12 months to June this year, 503,000 people moved to the UK, a slight drop from the previous year, including 27,000 Australians.

For the first time the Chinese were the biggest migrators to Britain with 40,000 citizens moving in, followed by India, Poland, the USA and Australia and Spain equally rounding out the top 5.

Ten years earlier, in 2002, Australians were in top spot of migrators to the UK followed by the Chinese, Americans, South Africans and Germans.

Twenty years ago it was pretty much the same except there were more New Zealanders than South Africans. Those were the days when Earls Court was known as Kangaroo Valley, the TNT magazine was the travellers bible both in size and religious following and there was a Walkabout pub everywhere you looked.

The attraction to the UK then had always been cultural and financial, with the pound at one stage worth three times as much as the dollar. But the past few years has seen a reversal of fortunes and more Aussies stayed away or returned home from Britain, attracted by the stronger economy back home.

The trend began in about 2007 with the downturn in the British economy and jobs market and has continued to today. That social change has also been reflected in other ways with Earls Court somewhat gentrified and an expensive place to live, TNT is the size of a large newsletter and last month the flagship Walkabout in Shepherds Bush in west London closed down due to lack of expat support. The original Walkabout in Covent Garden also closed earlier this year.

On the flip side, in 1992 Australia was the second highest emigration destination for Britons after the United States but then from 1997 to 2012, it has remained as the top choice.

That means Australia continues as one of the few countries in the world to consistently remain on top for immigration and emigration with the UK.

Ironically, a raft of visa changes in Britain has made it harder for its own citizens who have married a non-Briton or EU citizen to return home as a couple or a family, prompting many to continue to live "in exile" in non-EU countries including Australia. It's designed to weed out sham marriages but has affected genuine Australian-British relationships and families.

Migration to the UK is currently a hot topic in Westminster with Prime Minister David Cameron looking at cutting access to social benefits for migrants coming in, predominantly from the EU.


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