Friday, May 27, 2022

Israel Folau set for international rugby union return with Tonga, three years after being sacked by Australian team

He is not allowed to play for Australia because of his Christian beliefs. But Christianity is widely followed in his native Tonga so he is acceptable there

Former Wallaby Israel Folau is set to return to international rugby union for the first time since 2018, after being named in Tonga's squad for July's Pacific Nations Cup and World Cup qualifying.

"He's going to bring a lot of experience to the table," Tonga coach Toutai Kefu told ABC Radio Australia. "His presence is going to be one of the most exciting factors we're looking forward to."

Folau played 73 Tests for the Wallabies before Rugby Australia terminated his contract in May 2019 for breaching its code of conduct.

However, he's now able to represent his parents' homeland, Tonga, due to changes to World Rugby's eligibility laws.

"It would have been at least a couple of years ago that we started having conversations about him possibly representing Ikale Tahi," said Kefu.

"It was quite informal back then — it was just an informal chat — and then, as his three-year stand-down approached, when that was going to finish there was a possibility of him playing Sevens to qualify for us and he was open to that.

"But then, fortunately, they changed that rule in November and he didn't need to go through that route anymore. All he had to do was stand those three years down and he would qualify straight away."

Folau is currently playing club rugby for the Shining Arcs in Japan under former Waratahs coach Rob Penney.


Australians desperate to get onto the property ladder could LOSE money if they buy a home under Labor's 40 per cent ownership plan

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese's plan for the government to buy a 40 per cent stake in first-home buyers' properties could backfire, real estate experts fear.

Labor's Help to Buy Scheme assists individuals earning up to $90,000 and couples on a combined income of $120,000.

From July 2022, property newcomers can apply for one of 10,000 places.

This would see the government buy 40 per cent of a new home and 30 per cent of an existing home if a first-home buyer has a deposit of at least two per cent.

But CoreLogic research director Tim Lawless said the scheme was risky with the big banks forecasting a slide in house prices thanks to rising interest rates.

'With the housing market probably heading into a downturn over the coming year or years, some buyers may find their home is worth less than the debt held against it,' he said.

'It's important to know if the government will share in the downside risk if the property is sold while in a negative equity situation.'

The Reserve Bank of Australia in April admitted an increase in the cash rate to two per cent was likely to cause a 15 per cent drop in property prices, before raising rates in early May less than three weeks before the election.

Westpac, Australia's second biggest bank, is expecting Sydney property prices to fall by 14 per cent and Melbourne values drop by 15 per cent during the next two years.

In a bid to curb rising inflation, the RBA on May 3 raised the cash rate by a quarter of a percentage point to 0.35 per cent, ending the record-low era of 0.1 per cent.

The experts are expecting another increase in June with Westpac chief economist Bill Evans forecasting a 0.4 percentage point rise next month followed by six more increases by May 2023 - taking the cash rate to 2.25 per cent for the first time in eight years.

Inflation in the year to March soared to 5.1 per cent, the fastest pace in 21 years and at a level well above the RBA's 2 to 3 per cent target.

Talk of an interest rate rise saw property prices in Sydney and Melbourne in April suffer the first quarterly drop since mid to late 2020 before the RBA slashed the cash rate to a record low.

The new Labor government's scheme is capped at $950,000 in Sydney, Newcastle and Wollongong, with CoreLogic calculating it would help buyers in 26.8 per cent of suburbs.

That means a first-home buyer would qualify for typical house at Cabramatta West, where the median price is $900,658 - a level well below greater Sydney's median of $1.417million.

A cap of $850,000 applies in Melbourne and Geelong, which CoreLogic calculated would benefit first-home buyers in 31.3 per cent of suburbs.

This would help someone looking for a house in Altona Meadows in Melbourne's west where $799,751 is the median price - a level more affordable than greater Melbourne's $1.001million mid-point.

A limit of $650,000 applies in Brisbane, the Gold Coast and the Sunshine Coast, with the program expected to help buyers in 21 per cent of suburbs.

Strathpine in Brisbane's north has a median house price of $607,138 - a level well below the city's $880,332 mid-point.

A $550,000 limit applies in Perth, Adelaide, Hobart and Darwin, along with regional Victoria and the Northern Territory.

Canberra has a $600,000 limit which CoreLogic expected would help buyers in just 1.2 per cent of suburbs in a city with a median house price of $1.070million.

Labor also went to the election with the Regional First Home Buyer Support Scheme which also has 10,000 spots but from January 2023 for those with a five per cent deposit.

It has more generous income thresholds of $125,000 for singles and $200,000 for couples, even though houses are more affordable in regional areas.

Applicants need to have lived in a regional area for at least a year.

Labor opposed former Liberal prime minister Scott Morrison's plan for first home buyers to be able to withdraw up to $50,000 or 40 per cent of their superannuation.

But it backed the Coalition's Home Guarantee Scheme where first-home buyers would be allowed to get into the property market with a five per cent deposit, with taxpayers underwriting the rest of the usual 20 per cent deposit.

The old First Home Loan Deposit Scheme under the previous Coalition government had zero defaults and Mr Lawless said that risk was likely to be low under Labor's program.


Education bureaucrats made to work in Western Australia

More than 500 staff from the Education Department have been pulled out of its head office in East Perth and redeployed to teach in schools as COVID-19 decimates the ranks of teachers.

Schools have long been one of the hardest-hit settings and staffing shortages continue to be a major problem, with relief teachers in unprecedented demand.

Education Minister Sue Ellery insisted the system was managing well, considering the challenges.

"Look, it is tight, staffing is tight, as it is in every workplace across Western Australia right now," she said. "We asked everybody who is working in head office and the kind of satellite Department of Education sites, who was registered to teach, to make themselves available to leave central office and teach. "And people are doing that. As at last Friday, we had 516 out of central office and other sites assisting in schools."

Independent Schools Association of WA chair and Scotch College principal Alec O'Connell said schools were coping, but each morning presented a challenge to find relief staff. "One school I spoke to recently had 11 relief teachers in on any given day," Dr O'Connell said.

"Most colleagues I talk to are finding relief very challenging at the moment, and that doesn't matter what size school you are, but I imagine for regional schools and smaller schools it would be even more challenging.

"A lot of schools do have their regular relief teachers, which is really important, but I think schools have found it's really hard to even access those, with some of their regular relief teachers also off with COVID."

Dr O'Connell said schools were regularly amalgamating classes and having other staff, including principals, step in to teach. But he said teachers had become well-practised at leaving detailed lesson plans and, after periods working from home, students were experienced at adapting.


The Teals: loud, entitled and rich

They reflect the feel-good values of the affluent areas they represent

For the first time in our history a candidate representing the left has won the federal seat of Kooyong. This result does not surprise me. At the 2018 Victorian state election three of the four electorates within Kooyong were lost by the Liberals to Labor. I held Kew, where Bob Menzies lived, because the locals, many of whom don’t like me, knew what I stood for. Until my forced retirement from state politics this November, I will be the only lower house Liberal MP representing a part of the seat of Kooyong. The Liberals or its predecessor parties have held the seat of Kew for 95 years, Kooyong for 121 years, and I suspect before this year is out, based on last Saturday’s results, the Liberals will have no lower house representation at all where the party was founded.

The causes of the defeat in Kooyong to the ‘teals’ can be applied across Australia, indeed it’s a global phenomenon that wealthy inner-urban elites are voting for the Left.

The Liberal campaign in Kooyong had no message, aside from ‘Keep Josh’, but most importantly it said nothing about what the Liberal party stands for that will improve the lives of the people of Kooyong or anywhere else in the years ahead. Nothing about repaying the enormous debt our country now owes, reducing the cost of doing business, improving the standard of teaching or the national curriculum. The good idea of allowing first-homebuyers to access their superannuation for a deposit was too little too late.

This was the Liberal party’s problem for the last seven years of this government. Essentially Morrison argued he could manage the federal government better than Labor. In 2019 the government successfully argued that it had a point of economic policy difference with Bill Shorten and unfortunately they assumed it could be repeated in 2022. Albanese didn’t make the same mistakes as Shorten, and because the government failed to provide a vision and an economic narrative for why they deserved a rare fourth term, they lost, and the Treasurer lost his seat.

The government failed to land a glove on Albanese, despite his gaffes, because Scott Morrison did not provide a vision for the future of Australia. Further, Morrison had been mortally wounded during the pandemic by elevating state Labor premiers to positions of national leadership by the madness of the national cabinet experiment. Take for example the vaccine rollout, delivered on time, the largest peacetime logistical exercise ever undertaken by the Commonwealth government, yet the Labor state governments tore it to shreds.

The Liberals leave office with literally the largest debt the nation has ever had. Why? Because the federal government funded state governments, mainly Labor, whose only response to the pandemic was to shut down businesses, lock people in their homes and force children to attempt to learn from home. Victorians either felt attacked by the prime minister from Sydney as Melbourne endured the world’s longest lockdown or abandoned by him, particularly when he ended up backing Daniel Andrews’ incessant lockdowns.

In an electorate as highly educated as Kooyong, not a single attempt was made to point out the irresponsibility of what Dr Ryan, the new MP for Kooyong, was promising; a 60 per cent reduction to emissions by 2030. Labor is promising 43 per cent. The impact on our energy supply, reliability and electricity prices would be extreme at 60 per cent, yet the Liberals never challenged this, nor did they ever raise the alternative base-load energy policy solution of nuclear power. The Liberals in Kooyong were completely out-campaigned by an affluent political amateur because as much as I disagree with her, she stood for something, and it was unclear what her opponent stood for. The Liberals didn’t begin to attempt to hold her to account until it was too late. The last nine years of Coalition government will be regarded similarly to the Fraser years; no economic reform, no real legacy aside from aspects of the pandemic response and the Aukus nuclear-powered submarine agreement.

Tony Abbott will be forever regarded as a legend for tearing apart the most dysfunctional Labor government since Whitlam. But he was undermined from the outset and torn down by Malcolm Turnbull, who then squandered Abbott’s landslide, and almost lost the 2016 election. But it is the government that was led by Howard, Costello and Downer that younger Liberals must aspire to replicate when we win again.

It is now time for the Liberal party to reset, stop obsessing with the woke causes of inner-urban elites, and focus on the true forgotten people in the middle and outer suburbs as well as rural and regional Australia. Swings at this election against Labor in their working class heartland prove this is where the Liberal party must focus. These are the Australians who will bear the brunt of what the ‘teals’ are demanding in terms of emissions reductions by 2030. The people of Kooyong, Wentworth, Goldstein, North Sydney and Mackellar aren’t forgotten or quiet. They are loud, entitled, and privileged. The future of the great party that Menzies founded was never about the top end of town. It was and will always be the party of John Howard’s battlers. When Menzies founded the party, the eastern part of Kooyong was still orchards. As late as the 1990s, suburbs like North Balwyn, that I represent, were resolutely quiet and middle-class.

The Tories worked this shift out in 2019. Boris Johnson broke the ‘red wall’ by winning dozens of seats in working-class northern England. Tony Blair’s old seat of Sedgefield is held by the Conservatives but at the 2017 election the Tories lost the extremely wealthy inner-London seat of Kensington which includes Belgravia and Knightsbridge. The Tories now hold it by a mere 150 votes. In London, Labour holds 49 of 73 seats. Inner-city elites are the embodiment of post-material politics and they are voting left. The Liberals must accept this, and understand that only when inevitably the economy crashes under a federal Labor government can they be retaken.

Given generations of school students have been indoctrinated into the new religion of climate change extremism and identity politics, and the new national curriculum reinforces this, is it any wonder the Liberal party finds itself in the position it does?

The Liberal party in Victoria requires more fighters, more true believers and fewer careerists and cowards. Labor’s national vote dropped at this election, as did the Liberals’. This was not a great endorsement of Anthony Albanese, this was a loss by the Coalition. Australia needs a strong Liberal party led by men and women that will be warriors for the quiet Australians as Menzies said almost 80 years ago to the day; ‘…the kind of people I myself represent in Parliament – salary-earners, shopkeepers, skilled artisans, professional men and women, farmers and so on. These are, in the political and economic sense, the middle class. They are for the most part unorganised and unself-conscious…They are taken for granted by each political party in turn…. And yet, as I have said, they are the backbone of the nation’.




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