Saturday, January 02, 2016

Immigrant High School students do best in West Australia

Some ironies here, I think.  Spotty Anglo girl best at farming.  Chinese girl top academically

TWO public schoolgirls — including one from a state agricultural college — have taken out WA’s top academic honours for Year 12 graduates, the Beazley Medals.

Perth Modern School graduate Hui Min Tay was awarded the WA Certificate of Education Beazley Medal for achieving the highest award score in the state.

Megan McSeveney from the Harvey WA College of Agriculture was awarded the Beazley Medal for Vocational Education Training achievement.

Education Minister Peter Collier presented the girls with their medals at a ceremony in Kings Park on Thursday morning.

Miss Tay won multiple School Curriculum and Standards Authority awards for her work this year, including a General Exhibition, which are awarded to the top 40 WACE students in the state, a Course Exhibition for Ancient History, Chemistry and Physics, a Certificate of Distinction for Ancient History, Chemistry, Mathematics: Specialist and Physics, and a Certificate of Commendation.

Miss McSeveney completed Certificates II and III in Agriculture, a Certificate II in Production Horticulture and Certificate II in Wool Handling. She was also recognised for putting her skills into action in the workplace.

Miss McSeveney, who grew up on a farm in South Africa before coming to WA, said she hoped to go on to study animal science, with a long-term goal of running her own dairy.

“Hui Min and Megan have not just done well this year; they have shown a commitment to their education over many years,” Mr Collier said.

Hui Min told 6PR she was surprised to have got such high marks as she found the WACE exams hard and thought she might have “stuffed up" one of them.

Born in Singapore, she started studying at Perth Modern School midway through Year 10 when she was 14.

She said she thought her Beazley Medal win was a combination of her hard work and the support she has been given by other students and staff at Perth Modern School, which she described as a “very inspiring environment."

She now plans to study science at university for two years, and then possibly go on to study medicine.

Perth Modern School, an academically selective school, had the most General Exhibition winners this year with nine students placing within the top 40. The school also had 79 other award winners.

St Hilda’s Anglican School for Girls had six General Exhibition winners and Presbyterian Ladies College and Christ Church Grammar School both had three.

Rossmoyne Senior High School students also scooped the awards with 41 winners and St Hilda’s Anglican School for Girls had 40.


Bob Hawke call: cut ALP ties with CFMEU

Bob Hawke says Labor and the ACTU must embrace reforms to improve union governance and transparency.

Bob Hawke has called on the Labor Party and the ACTU to consider cutting ties with the scandal-plagued Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union, while Paul Keating has warned that trade union influence inside the party must be reduced.

The two former Labor prime ministers, who forged a historic partnership with unions to transform the economy a generation ago, have told The Australian they are appalled by the evidence of systemic union corruption, and urged union leaders to refocus on the national economic interest.

Mr Hawke, who as prime minister deregistered the rogue ­Builders Labourers Federation in 1986, said Labor and the ACTU must embrace reforms to improve union governance and transparency.

“The unions need to clean up their act and get their house in order,” Mr Hawke said. “It just is appalling. I mean, I wouldn’t tolerate it. You know what I did with the Builders Labourers Federation — I would throw them out.”

Asked if the CFMEU should still be affiliated to the ACTU and Labor, Mr Hawke, who was ACTU president throughout the 1970s, said: “Well, I would be very happy for them not to be at this stage.”

The comments from the two Labor elders came before the Heydon royal commission released its damning findings on Wednesday, recommending civil or criminal action against 37 ­people and describing “widespread” corruption throughout the union movement.

The CFMEU, a union with a criminal record and that has been fined for multiple breaches of the law, had 12 present and former ­officials referred to authorities for possible corruption, intimidation, breaching official duties and knowingly giving false evidence.

The Labor luminaries’ comments stand in stark contrast to the stance adopted yesterday by Labor’s workplace relations spokesman, Brendan O’Connor, who rubbished commissioner Dyson Heydon’s report, saying it read like it was “written by a B-grade subeditor of a sleazy ­tabloid”.

Asked about Labor’s continued affiliation with the CFMEU, Mr O’Connor, whose brother ­Michael O’Connor is the CFMEU national secretary, defended the construction union while simultaneously stressing Labor had “zero tolerance for corruption”.

“Anyone who’s broken the law should be dealt with appropriately, but to suggest because there may be individuals in an organisation, somehow that organisation is systemically corrupt, it does not hold water,” he told ABC radio.

Mr Hawke said the ACTU and Labor had not previously done enough to acknowledge or res­pond to the problems in the union movement, but he was pleased that Labor leader Bill Shorten had recently put forward proposals to strengthen union governance, increase penalties for illegality and overhaul political donation laws.

“Bill is coming out now and saying more should be done,” Mr Hawke said.

Mr Shorten, who has been on leave, did not formally respond to the commission’s report until 24 hours after its release, first on Twitter and later in a statement.

“If Mr Turnbull and his Liberals want to fight an election on industrial relations, bring it on. We won on WorkChoices & we’ll win again,’’ he tweeted.

In further comments to The Australian, Mr Shorten indicated Labor would consider measures to deal with corruption as long as they were not targeted solely at unions. “We want to stamp out any criminality in unions, corporations or anywhere else,” he said. “We will look at serious and sensible suggestions to improve governance.”

He said as a minister he sent administrators into the HSU, which uncovered many of the problems within that union.

“And as Labor leader, I have announced a series of measures designed to further improve governance of unions.”

Mr Keating, who won the prime ministership from Mr Hawke in 1991, told The Australian the unions did not have the same commitment to the national economic interest as they did under the Accord partnership with the Labor government in the 1980s and 90s.

“The propensity of the ACTU leadership to agree a set of national economic outcomes consistent with their members’ best interests was more obvious than today, but then the labour market today is reasonably flexible, otherwise wages wouldn’t be growing at 2.2 per cent,” he said.

As treasurer, Mr Keating placed a priority on the Accord that moderated wage claims in return for tax cuts and social benefits while supporting tariff reductions, industry deregulation, labour market reform and asset sales that made the economy more productive, efficient and competitive.

He said union influence inside Labor was too overbearing and there should be a rethink of the party-union nexus. “The preponderance of trade union weight in the Labor Party’s councils is now too large, given organised labour’s influence in the current and contemporary labour market,” Mr Keating said.

“The party should be broader, freer, and whatever influence organised labour has should be such as to genuinely represent its weight in the broader economy, but not to distort the (party’s) processes.”

Mr Hawke agreed unions “should not have an undue influence” inside Labor and that falling union membership must lead to reduced union delegations to state party conferences, currently set at 50 per cent.

ACTU secretary Dave Oliver disputed the suggestion corruption was widespread in the union movement and criticised the “political nature” of the commission and the “extreme language” in its final report.


Social media has lit up with a stream of brutal criticism about the ABC's New Year's Eve firework hosting

Viewers have slammed the ABC’s ‘lame’ and cringeworthy New Year’s Eve entertainment, which was a mix of blatant self-promotion, ‘embarrassing’ jokes and online technical difficulties.

For years, Channel Nine have had the rights to show the New Year’s Eve fireworks, but national broadcaster ABC has been given the task of hosting the coverage for the second year running – and have been widely panned for their efforts.

It had been hosted by Justine Clarke from 8.30pm for the family portion of the programming, and was followed by co-hosts Eddie Perfect, of Play School, and Ella Hooper, of Killing Heidi.

Social media was filled with messages slamming the ABC for a range of reasons, with one person claiming ‘I almost wish (Channel Nine personality) Richard Wilkins was back.’

‘Seriously @ABCTV #nyeabc is the worst. You seriously suck. What did we do to deserve this sh*te? Oh I know. We stayed home #SydNYE,’ tweeted another person.

Ironically, the program pretended it was being run by puppets from ABC's children's programs and even showed the toys trying to deal with technical difficulties.

Celebrities – and some hard-to-place faces – appeared in an awkward montage wishing Australians a Happy New Year and plugging new programs on the ABC next year.

‘Have a good year and, and watch our show!’ one ABC personality yelled out.

‘ABC’s NYE coverage is a who’s who of celebrities… No, literally a who’s who, no idea who any of them are,’ tweeted Corey Sinclair.

ABC personalities Brooke Satchwell and Matt Day both appeared in the montage before a pub quiz-style program hosted by Lawrence Mooney in between the 'family fireworks' at 9pm and midnight

In the lead up to the 9pm ‘family fireworks’, presenters Justine Clarke and Eddie Perfect led a search for the Playschool character Humpty Dumpty. The egg toy was eventually found on the top of the Opera House.

‘What a patronising, cringeworthy presentation for the 9pm fireworks. Just a bit embarrassed for Australia right now,’ tweeted Casey.

‘And yet again the telecast of Sydney fireworks is totally lame and so badly scripted,’ #cringe #abc #embarrassing,’ tweeted Anna Patterson.

‘The skit with the ABC children’s toys is unbelievably boring. Hurry up and show the family fireworks,’ tweeted Jeremy.

‘Every year it’s the same excruciating, embarrassing fail,’ wrote a Facebook user.

‘Sorry the Big Bash cricket is way better entertainment,’ wrote another, who swore to switch channels ‘until five minutes to 12.’

Others were disappointed that a technical problem meant they not only couldn’t get the ABC on their televisions, but they also couldn’t live stream the fireworks as promised.

‘This is what we got to see as the fireworks happened – pathetic, ABC sucks,’ Alyson Keeys tweeted, alongside a photo of computer screen. The screen said: ‘Sorry! For legal reasons, we can’t live stream all programs yet’ with the ABC logo.

‘Looks like ABC doesn’t have digital broadcast rights for #NYESYD – need to use Telstra stream,’ wrote Bradley Jarvis.

'The Sound of Music gang has my 18month old ENTRANCED,' tweeted Jess.

'Pub quiz again the highlight of coverage. Kids segment hit and miss, Falls performances an odd choice,' one person wrote on Twitter.

Pre-recorded footage from Falls Festival earlier that day was aired in the coverage, including of Courtney Barnett, Paul Kelly, RÜFÜS, Peking Duk, Hilltop Hoods, Bloc Party, The Wombats and Foals.

Between the 9pm family fireworks and midnight, media personality Lawrence Mooney hosted a pub quiz, questioning ABC personalities on events of the year.

Some said the program dragged on for too long, while many on social media applauded the pub-quiz, including guests Tom Ballard and Emma Alberici.


Recovering student loans from overseas residents

From today, people who have benefited from Australian student loans and now live overseas will pay for them the same way as they would if they lived in Australia.

Minister for Education and Training Senator Simon Birmingham said it was estimated that up to $30 million was lost annually due to graduates moving overseas and from today those graduates would be required to notify the Australian Taxation Office to arrange repayments.

Minister Birmingham said recouping debts under the Higher Education Loan Programme or Trade Support Loan scheme would ensure Australia’s world-class, income-contingent student loans scheme was fairer and more sustainable into the future.

“The Turnbull Government is committed to ensuring the future sustainability of Australia’s student loans scheme and to ensuring it is fair for all Australians.

“Until now, people who took out a loan under the Higher Education Loan Programme (HELP) or a Trade Support Loan (TSL) and moved overseas were under no obligation to repay their debt as long as they remained offshore residents,” Minister Birmingham said.

“From 2016-17, anyone who has a Higher Education Loan Programme or Trade Support Loan debt who earns above the minimum repayment threshold (currently $54,126) will be required to make repayments regardless of where they live.

“As well as making the scheme fairer and more equitable, the Government’s changes will improve the sustainability of the scheme with taxpayers to benefit by $150 million over the next decade.”

Minister Birmingham said it is estimated that around $20‑30 million each year was lost due to graduates moving overseas and up to $800 million due to non-repayment of debts from students living overseas had been lost since the start of the student loan scheme in 1989.

All Australians with current and new HELP and TSL debt who move overseas for six months or more are required to notify the ATO via the myGov website to facilitate repayments. For more information about HELP, go to

Press release from Senator the Hon. Simon Birmingham, Federal  Minister for Education and Training

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