Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Newspoll: Abbott Government primary vote rises; Bill Shorten’s personal approval rating drops to new low

UPDATE: PRIME Minister Tony Abbott says he feels young and vigorous and at the height of his powers after the latest Newspoll showed support for the Coalition has risen to a four-month high, while Bill Shorten has crashed to his lowest ever personal approval rating.

Newspoll taken for The Australian shows the Coalition’s primary vote rose three points in the past fortnight to 38 per cent, while Labor’s fell three points, also sitting at 38 per cent.

On a two-party-preferred basis, Labor still leads but the Coalition has closed the gap.

Two weeks ago the Coalition trailed 43-57; today’s Newspoll show a tightening to 47-53 per cent.

Mr Abbott was asked by the Nine Network’s Today host Karl Stefanovic if it felt good to be alive this morning.

“Well, look, Karl you know what it is like to be young and vigorous and at the height of your powers, and that’s exactly how I feel,” he said.  “There are some mornings we don’t feel like that but that is certainly how I feel this morning.”

The percentage of people who were satisfied with Mr Abbott’s performance as Prime Minister rose slightly to 25 per cent, while his high dissatisfaction rating was unchanged at 68 per cent.

But Mr Shorten took a big personal hit, with the percentage of people satisfied with the way he was doing his job as Opposition Leader falling to a record low of 35 per cent, down from 42 per cent.

Those dissatisfied rose to 49 per cent.

The poll was taken over the weekend, when Mr Abbott was in the news talking about his response to terrorists.

It comes two weeks after a vote in the partyroom to spill Mr Abbott’s leadership was defeated 39-61.


Rogue cop admits unlawful assault, dangerous driving and making a false report

But prosecutors want only a slap on the wrist for him

A ROGUE police officer who slammed his patrol car into a motorist, roughed him up, falsely imprisoned him and then lied about it in official reports should only be fined, according to the OPP.

The Melbourne Magistrates’ Court today heard award-winning police officer Kieran John Atkin, 32, had a “brain snap” when he rammed his patrol car into the car of Hillside motorist Anthony Vittori in August 2013.

Former senior constable Atkin — who joined Victoria Police in 2003 — was initially charged with perjury, perverting the course of justice and assault, but today pleaded guilty to reduced charges of unlawful assault, dangerous driving and making a false report.

Atkin and his partner Brennan Roberts began following Mr Vittori when they noticed him driving an unregistered vehicle and followed him home.

Vittori accidentally backed into the patrol car outside of his home, then tried to drive in to his driveway when Atkin drove the patrol car into the right rear side of the car, spinning it around and destroying a post box.

Vittori was then roughed up and falsely arrested for conduct endangering life, spending about five hours in the police lockup.

“Atkin’s false version of events has resulted in the man’s false imprisonment for a number of hours,” said magistrate Charlie Rozencwajg.

The incident was filmed on Atkin’s own dash-cam, and the footage was seized after internal affairs investigators raided his office.

Atkin — who was awarded the Tynan Eyre Medal for highest achievement at the Police Academy, resigned from the force last November and has since been stacking supermarket shelves.

He plans to move to Byron Bay.

Mr Rozencwajg said he was “extremely surprised” the Office of Public Prosecutions was seeking only a fine and conviction given the serious nature of the offending.

Mr Rozencwajg also criticised police for taking so long to lay charges.

Atkin will be sentenced next week.


Why parents should stop helping their kids with homework

I am not sure about the "research" reported below but there do seem to be some sensible suggestions

Homework is the cause of many suburban screaming matches and thousands of grey hairs. Many parents feel like they’re going through school a second time around as they sit down with their children each night and help with their homework.

The average Australian 15-year-old spends six hours a week doing their homework, according to the OECD. And a recent Australian Childhood Foundation survey found that 71 per cent of Australian parents feel like they don’t spend enough quality time with their children, because they spend too much time running the household or helping with homework.

Now several education experts are urging parents to stop helping. They say it will give their kids more independence, give parents back their free time and help reduce the number of homework-related arguments at home.


There is extensive research proving that homework has little academic benefit, says associate professor of educational psychology at the University of Sydney and author of Reforming Homework, Richard Walker.

“There isn’t much academic benefit in homework for primary school children. There are some benefits for junior school students and around 50 per cent of senior high school students show some benefit when it comes to academic achievement. But not for primary school kids,” he said.

Psychologist Dr Michael Carr-Gregg agrees: “Homework provides absolutely no academic benefit for younger students.

“And parents are demanding it in larger and larger doses, despite the fact that it does nothing. It’s a completely different ballgame in secondary school, but not in primary school.”

But research does show that doing homework helps kids develop “self-directed learning skills” — in other words — initiative, independence and confidence.

Also, homework helps to solidify a sense of belonging and autonomy. It gives kids a sense of control over their lives.

Homework has minimal academic benefits for primary school children.

Homework has minimal academic benefits for primary school children. Source: Getty Images


Associate professor Walker says this sense of autonomy is taken away when parents get too involved in homework help.

“If parents are over controlling and interfering then that really has a negative effect,” he said.

“Some involvement is good for self-directed learning, but if they get too involved and the kid loses their autonomy then it becomes a problem. I think parents have to pull back.”

He says many parents are exerting too much of what he calls “emotional labour”.

“Parents are often tired after a long day at work and having to put in the emotional labour to assist their kids with homework can be quite a burden.”


Education expert from, Ciaran Smyth, says parents shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help.

“You don’t have to be the ultimate expert in everything. Children need to put their hands up for help and parents also need to ask for help. There’s no reason to be stuck. Use your resources — teachers, tutors — just ask.”

Online tutoring services such as — where students can seek help from accredited teachers in a live typed chat from 3pm after school — can help take the pressure off parents.

“I’ve seen so many arguments between parents and children about homework. By removing the burden of having to be the homework help the whole time, parents can reduce the number of arguments, the tension and the bad feelings that come from having to hound your kid all the time.”

If someone else is doing the hard yards helping out with homework, that leaves parents free to do other things and spend more quality (read: argument-free) time with their children, Mr Smyth said.

Parents who get too involved in their child’s homework are doing more harm than good.

Parents who get too involved in their child’s homework are doing more harm than good. Source: Getty Images


Given the lack of evidence to support the academic benefits of homework in primary school, Dr Michael Carr-Gregg says primary schools should stop giving kids traditional homework exercises and instead equip them with important life skills.

Some schools are already getting on board.

St Michael’s Grammar in Melbourne asks students to play board games such as Scrabble with an adult and photograph the board as proof.

“Or they choose and cook a recipe for dinner and photograph the results — all of which helps with literacy and important life skills,” Dr Carr-Gregg said.

“These are much more pleasant family interactions than homework. Childhood is hard enough as it is without putting the stress of homework on them.”

Dr Carr-Gregg urges parents to “rise up against the tyranny of primary school homework”

“I’m frustrated that schools aren’t responding to the research. I would be putting it on the parents to educate the schools about what is the current thinking around homework. Homework is not being set correctly at the moment. It’s very poorly coordinated.

“If the school is consistently not receptive to the idea, I would write over my kid’s homework, ‘Sleep was more important, I gave them permission to do this’. I really do want parents to act as their kids’ advocates.”


Monday's 'pension increase' a side show to the real reform needed

 Age pensioners woke on Monday morning to the news that 770,000 of them would be getting a pension increase. Scott Morrison, Minister for Social Services, was on ABC Radio National claiming "...part-pensioners will receive an average increase in their payments of $3.20 a fortnight, $83.20 a year".

While one would have thought that a modest pension increase would be welcome news to the Australian Council of Social Services (ACOSS), Executive Director Cassandra Goldie, said "It is extremely disappointing that...the government appears to be prioritising people with investment assets".

The truth is that the $200 million pension increase to begin later in March is neither middle class welfare nor part of the Abbott government's "...plan to support pensioners deal with rising costs of living...", it is nothing more than the routine operation of the pension means test.

It is not the dividends and coupon payments earned from financial assets such as shares and bonds that are means tested. Since 1996 these assets are 'deemed' to earn a rate of return and it is this 'deemed income' that is included in the income test -- regardless of the amount that was actually earned.

The advantage of deeming is that it provides pensioners with some certainty regarding their pension payments rather than leaving them exposed to short-term fluctuations in market returns. By treating all financial investments in the same way, pensioners are encouraged to choose investments on merit rather than on their implications for their pension entitlement.

Under current deeming policy, a single person's financial assets of less than $48,000 are deemed to earn 2%, while assets over this amount are deemed to earn 3.5%. For couples, the rates are the same but the threshold is $79,600.

As of March 20, both deeming rates will be lowered by 0.25%. Lower deemed income means higher pension payments for part-pensioners.

While the deeming threshold is indexed to the Consumer Price Index the rates are set at the discretion of the Minister of the day, on advice from the Department of Social Services, and "reflect rates of return available on a range of financial products".

Since the last revision of the deeming rates in November 2013, the yield on 10-year Commonwealth bonds has fallen by just under 1.5% and, despite recent growth, the All Ordinaries has been trending sideways for much of this time.

It is therefore difficult to argue that Monday's announcement was aimed at "prioritising people with investment assets" though Goldie's assertion that "Those affected are by and large better of...than those relying on the full pension" is correct -- in as far as 'better off' refers to those with greater (assessable) assets.

With the Age Pension projected to account for 12 per cent of the growth in total spending over the medium term there can be no doubt that there is need for pension reform. Unfortunately, Monday's events have shown how the least controversial aspects of pension policy are so easily politicised.


1 comment:

Paul said...

A brain snap......right..

A brain snap.

I feel safer already.