Monday, May 09, 2016
Malcolm Turnbull confirms Australia will go to the polls on July 2
Malcolm Turnbull has set out his election agenda, following the calling of an historic double dissolution election.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has announced Australia will go to the polls on July 2 in a double dissolution election, launching an eight-week campaign.
The Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove earlier today gave his permission for Mr Turnbull to dissolve both houses of parliament, throwing open all 150 House of Representatives seats and 76 Senate places for election.
Mr Turnbull said there was a very clear choice at the election - to stick with the coalition's plans for jobs and growth or go to Labor whose policies "will stop our nation's transition to the new economy dead in its tracks."
"But if we embrace this future with confidence and with optimism, with self-belief and a clear plan, then we will succeed as we have never succeeded before," he said in Canberra.
He laid out his plan to return to government, citing innovation and science, Australian industry and high tech jobs, and getting young people into jobs as vital.
"These are exciting times. But we must embark on these times, embrace these opportunities, meet these challenges, with a plan and we have laid out a clear economic plan to enable us to succeed," he said.
He said his government had set up the stage for strong trade with China and Asia.
Election 2016: Prime Minister Turnbull's glittering prize
Rich and famous, combative, ambitious and a brilliant speaker. Malcolm Turnbull's elevation to the Liberal leadership last September came with great expectation.
But the reality of being prime minister has rubbed away at least some of the gloss.
Malcolm Bligh Turnbull was a high achiever at Sydney Grammar School, took an arts/law degree from Sydney University and, as a Rhodes Scholar, a second law degree from Oxford.
While there, in 1980, he married Lucy Hughes, daughter of leading Sydney silk and Gorton government attorney-general Tom Hughes.
Lucy became Sydney's first female lord mayor and a business partner with her husband. They have two children.
The young lawyer became a household name in 1986 with the Spycatcher case in which he routed the British establishment's attempts to ban the memoir of former MI5 agent Peter Wright.
The following year, in partnership with Neville Wran and Nicholas Whitlam, he set up a merchant bank which quickly attracted establishment clients.
In 1994 he helped develop the internet provider Ozemail which he later sold for a big profit.
He went on to become chair and managing director of Goldman Sachs Australia and a partner in the global company.
Turnbull chaired the Australian Republican Movement from 1993 to 2000 and was its high profile public face in the 1999 referendum.
When it failed, he savaged John Howard as "the prime minister who broke this nation's heart".
In 2003, Turnbull, who was the Liberal Party's federal treasurer, ran for preselection against sitting MP Peter King in the seat of Wentworth and, after furious branchstacking on both sides, won.
He entered the following year and soon rose, becoming parliamentary secretary with responsibility for water in 2006 and, in January 2007, environment minister.
When Labor returned to power later in 2007, Turnbull ran for the leadership against Brendan Nelson and lost by three votes. He became treasury spokesman. But with Nelson languishing in the polls, Turnbull challenged the following year and reversed the result. He lasted a little over a year as opposition leader.
Turnbull's dangerous impatience was displayed in the Godwin Grech affair when he used what turned out to be false claims by an obviously flaky Treasury official against Kevin Rudd and Wayne Swan over a funding scheme for car dealerships.
His support for Labor's emissions trading scheme put him offside with his party and Tony Abbott unseated him by one vote in December 2009.
Turnbull came very close to quitting politics. But in the end he decided to stay on and when Abbott came to power in 2013 Turnbull became communications minister with, among other things, the challenge of sorting out Labor's very expensive and behind-schedule NBN.
He regularly entertained parliament with savagely witty attacks on Labor. Generally he kept to his portfolio, though as the storm clouds gathered around Abbott he made a potentially provocative speech about leadership.
His political life has been troubled by wanting to do everything yesterday.
He can be a bully - fellow republican campaigner Tim Costello recalls: "When you're on the wrong end of Malcolm it's terrifying, the thunder in the face and ... the tongue lashing."
He doesn't suffer fools gladly - and there are always fools in any party room whose sensitivities can't be ignored. But his capacity, his skills, and the power of his personality are undeniable.
Three current articles below
A teacher has warned men not to join the profession after enduring two-year investigation
A TEACHER of 35 years experience has warned young men against joining the profession after enduring an investigation into an alleged incident with a student that lasted close to two years and left him mentally scarred.
The southern suburbs man has detailed the isolating and humiliating “farce” he was put through when investigated by the Education Department, which has revealed it finalised 80 disciplinary matters involving teachers and other staff last year.
“It goes from zero to psycho in an instant,” the teacher said of the investigation into whether he inappropriately touched a student, which he estimated would have cost taxpayers $250,000.
“I am so pissed off because of the indignity of what I had to go through. “It must cost (the department) millions each year chasing frivolous or vexatious complaints that should be at least attempted to be resolved at the local level.
“I would discourage any young guy from going into teaching.”
The Australian Education Union says cases often run for well over a year and as long as three years, arguing principals should be allowed to deal with many of them to resolve them faster.
But the Department says the delays are out of its control as it must wait for any police investigations and court cases to end before it can finalise its own actions, which are slowed by interventions from the union and the accused’s lawyers.
A spokesman acknowledged the process was “stressful” but said investigations had to be robust to ensure “the safety and wellbeing of the children in our care”.
Investigations can cover allegations of abuse or assault, financial wrongdoing, sexual harassment and a range of other matters. Last year 27 allegations were “substantiated with findings” and in three cases staff resigned prior to an outcome. Another 17 were handled through “managerial processes” and 33 were unsubstantiated. The department would not detail outcomes of substantiated cases or say how much it spends on investigations.
The physical education teacher, 60, was stood down from his job at a suburban primary school in 2014.
He was kept in the dark for six months about basic details of the accusation until he was interviewed by police who did not lay charges. He maintained his innocence through the department’s investigation and was sent a “cold and calculating” letter early this year ordering him back to work.
But suffering severe anxiety and panic attacks and diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder, he is taking sick leave and long service leave to recover and hopes to teach again next year.
White flight: race segregation in Melbourne state schools
"White flight" is shaping education in Melbourne's inner city state schools, leading to unofficial segregation along race and class.
In the Greens-voting socially liberal enclaves of the inner north, white middle class families have deserted the schools closest to the remaining commission housing towers, while competing for spots in a handful of schools seen to have greater prestige.
Schools such as Fitzroy Primary, Carlton Primary School and Mount Alexander College in Flemington have become catchments for poor students of African heritage, many of whom live in the flats. Between 71 to 94 per cent of students attending these schools speak a language other than English at home.
The average median house price in some of these school's suburbs teeters around $1 million, yet about 60 to 80 per cent of students at these schools are among the poorest in the state.
They've been called "sink schools" – schools drained of affluent families and high achieving students.
White families with higher incomes are opting to enrol their children in over-subscribed schools a few suburbs away.
They favour Clifton Hill, Princes Hill and Merri Creek primary schools, where 79 to 84 per cent of families are among the state's richest.
These schools – with just 10 to 30 per cent of students speaking a language other than English at home – offer accelerated programs, overseas trips and boast above-average NAPLAN scores.
Abeselom Nega, an Ethiopian refugee and community leader, is alarmed by this trend.
"The white parents don't send their kids to these schools because all they see is black kids," says Mr Nega, who sits on the board of the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission.
"They may not view it as racism, but it is … you can sugar coat it, and put it differently, but I won't."
Sydney’s public school popularity driving real estate mini-boom
A surge in the popularity of public schools throughout Sydney is driving a real estate mini-boom in catchment areas.
With enrolments in public schools rising 6.4 per cent from 2012, and the NSW Department of Education announcing this week an investment of more than $60 million into new inner-Sydney schools to overcome a shortage of places, property agents have been overwhelmed by parents wanting to buy homes nearby.
“For the majority of families, couples and blended families, that’s now their No. 1 factor when looking for a home,” says Curtis Associates buyers agent Chris Curtis.
“It’s always been important, but probably the changing boundaries and the fiscal burden of private education are making being close to public schools even more of a priority. I think it’ll get more important too, as time goes by. If the state government steps up to the plate and provides more public schools where they’re desperately needed, then demand for those areas will be higher still.”
On February census figures, there are 494,102 children being enrolled this year in public schools in the Sydney metropolitan area, as against 464,343 in 2012. The Education Department attributes the rise to changing parental choices, retention rates between grades and an overall increase in the number of school-aged children.
Business development manager Jillian Cook is one mum who’s switching her allegiance from private schools to public, choosing to move house from Maroubra to within the catchment area of Bellevue Hill Public School. This week she enrolled her youngest, four-year-old Samantha, into the public school – despite having her two eldest daughters, Jessica, 13, and Charlotte, 10, at private girls’ school Ascham
“Bellevue Hill Public School is a very good school and I think it’ll suit her more than the private school,” says Cook, 42. “We just don’t feel there’s a lot of value for money in going to private school, and we’re quite happy to put her in a co-ed public school.
“The way they teach reading and writing at Ascham, I no longer believe in. So we were happy to move to Bellevue Hill and to make sure we were in that catchment area.”
The public schools-driven demand for property is also having an effect on prices, says Mark Cook, principal of Richardson and Wrench St Ives-Turramurra. “We’re seeing a strong surge in demand for people who want to send their children to good public schools, particularly from newcomers to the area,” he says.
“St Ives North is now rated highly and, as a result, St Ives Chase in the narrow catchment area has probably jumped up in value 10-15 per cent. Once, it wasn’t popular at all, but now people are buying for very good prices.”
The catchment neighbourhoods for public schools with particularly glowing reputations, such as Killara High, Killarney Heights High, Summer Hill Public and Newtown Public, are especially sought after.
Chadwick Killara agent Pamela McCulloch says the location of a home within a sought-after school zone can be a non-negotiable point for many buyers. “You are aware when you have a property in a very popular school zone that it creates more competition between buyers, which in turn is likely to lead to a higher price,” she says.
Century 21 Northside agent Jason Roach agrees. “The accessibility to high-quality public education, like Killara High, is an important component in people’s decisions about where to buy,” he says. “And certainly with the changing demographic of buyers coming through, many from Asia, it’s becoming even more important.”
In Newtown, McGrath Estate Agents’ Josh Martin says for many buyers at openings, their first question is whether a house is in the catchment area. “So demand is strong,” he says. “We hear stories of some people renting just to stay in those areas.”
Along with the increasing demand, parents are often going to extraordinary lengths to be allowed to send their children to schools – one parent saying he knows others who rent for a year to qualify, and then move somewhere cheaper – and the schools sometimes check on the addresses to make sure their students are still there.
Killara High School’s enrolment policy includes parents having to submit rate notices or tenancy agreements, and three utility account statements, such as electricity, water, telephone or gas, to show they’re resident.
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