Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Today co-host has a dig at the Prime Minister over Australia Day

Why should we change the date to suit a small minority?

The new co-host of The Today Show has warned the Prime Minister “can’t please everyone” as debate once again rages over the date Australia Day is held.

Sarah Abo was hosting a segment on the popular Nine morning program on Wednesday with Education Minister Jason Clare and 4BC political contributor and former Queensland Liberal MP Scott Emerson.

The trio were discussing accusations from the Coalition that the Labor government were trying to change the date of the national public holiday “by stealth”, by encouraging businesses to allow employees to work on January 26 if they take issue with what the holiday represents.

Mr Clare denied the allegation, telling Ms Abo the Prime Minister had “made it clear” Australia Day would remain on January 26, but that Australians were welcome to mark it in whichever way they wanted.

“You can have this debate if you want to, you can celebrate if you want to, you can protest if you want to, you can go to work tomorrow if you want to, or you can have a few beers with your mates if you want to,” he said.

Mr Emerson said Prime Minister Anthony Albanese was being “weak” and “half-hearted” in his response to calls to change the date of Australia Day to respect the Aboriginal community, who view the date as the start of a regime of oppression and genocide against First Nations people.

“The reality is, the Government should come out and say, ‘Yes, we are celebrating on January the 26th, and we’re keeping that day there’,” said Mr Emerson.

Ms Abo, 37, then said “Well, this is the problem, though, isn’t it? I mean, it’s about pleasing everyone, and you simply can’t anymore,” before turning the conversation back to Mr Emerson.

Mr Clare appeared perplexed at the suggestion, as Mr Emerson agreed with Ms Abo’s opinion, going on to accuse the Prime Minister of “trying to have a bet each way.”

But Mr Clare was denied the chance to respond, with Ms Abo then turning the conversation towards the issue of the Coalition calling for rapper Kanye West to be denied entry into Australia.

Viewers appeared to be split on the issue.

One Twitter user commented on the segment: “This is Labor agenda to force a date change of our national day. A sneaky way of doing it. It’s very disrespectful to be working on Australia Day.”

But another said “No pride in genocide,” taking the opposite stance on the matter.

“Let’s have a referendum and see what Australia wants, rather than pockets of voices blasting what we should have!” said a third viewer, believing the decision should be left up to the majority.

Sarah Abo was made co-host of Today earlier in January, alongside host Karl Stefanovic, after on-and-off stints as fill-in co-host during 2022.

She was previously a reporter for 60 Minutes, and replaces former Today co-host Allison Langdon, who replaces Tracy Grimshaw on A Current Affair.

Federal public servants, as well as employees of Woolworths, Telstra, Channel 10, and Unilever have all been given the option to work January 26 instead of observing the public holiday.

Contemporary Australia Day celebrations only took off after bicentennial celebrations in 1988.

A celebration for some has been a day of pain for Aboriginal groups, who see January 26 as the beginning of European settlement that brought acts of brutality and genocide.

Demonstrations are now regularly held on January 26, with the date marked as “Invasion Day.”


‘Playing politics’: Qld MPs outraged over Australia Day ban

Discrimination against State politicians

Labor has been accused of “playing politics” with local Australia Day citizenship ceremonies after Immigration Minister Andrew Giles refused to grant authority to state MPs to preside over local events.

A number of Queensland state MPs have presided over the local ceremonies for years including LNP Deputy Leader Jarrod Bleijie, who has taken up the gig for the past 12 years after being granted the authority by the relevant federal minister each year.

Letters seen by The Courier-Mail reveal Mr Bleijie’s local Rotary Club in Mooloolaba had been attempting to confirm the authorisation for months in the lead up to Thursday’s Australia Day citizenship ceremony.

But just a week out, the club and Mr Bleijie were informed Mr Giles had rejected the request – with other state MPs also rejected.

“The Hon. Andrew Giles MP, Minister for Immigration, Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs considered the request for your one-off authorisation and similar requests made by state MPs for the same purpose, and has not agreed to these requests,” a letter from the Department of Home Affairs reads.

“The Department has advised the Rotary Club of Mooloolaba of the Minister’s decision.

The letter is dated January 20 – just six days before the ceremony, despite the request being put forward several months earlier ­– with the acknowledgment the “timing of the notification of this decision is not ideal”.

“However, the department will continue to work with the club to ensure that a presiding officer is available for the ceremony on Australia Day 2023.”

Mr Bleijie said such ceremonies should “not be political”.

“Australia Day citizenship ceremonies should be about the new citizens becoming Australians and enjoying everything there is to enjoy being an Australian,” he said.

“Unfortunately, the new Federal Labor government have chosen to play politics and now deny state MPs the ability to preside over citizenship ceremonies, which we have been doing on behalf of our communities for years on end.”

Minister for Immigration Andrew Giles referred questions on the matter to the Department of Home Affairs.

“Local Federal MPs or certain local government council representatives are authorised as presiding officers, and should be afforded this opportunity at citizenship ceremonies,” a spokesperson told The Courier-Mail.

“This doesn’t preclude others from having a prominent role in the official proceedings, for example, by being invited to make an address at the event.

“Many council-hosted ceremonies include an address by a local state MP, for instance.”


Back to the future: One year teaching qualification to be revived

Two-year post-graduate teaching degrees would be scrapped and replaced with a one-year course under a major overhaul to attract aspiring teachers into classrooms as schools battle chronic staff shortages, particularly in maths and science.

The proposal will be rolled out if the NSW Coalition government is reelected in March. It follows the NSW Productivity Commission releasing data that reveals the shift to the longer qualification has deterred more than 9000 would-be teachers from entering the profession.

NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet said the reform was part of a push to modernise education and make a teaching career a reality sooner for those already in the workforce.

“People at all stages of their lives have the potential to be great teachers, for those who already have an undergraduate degree we want a more streamlined approach for them to start a teaching career,” Perrottet said.

Under a NSW Coalition government, those with an undergraduate degree will be able to complete a one-year full-time postgraduate degree to become a secondary school teacher from 2024, and streamlined postgraduate courses for primary school teachers would be available by 2026.

NSW Productivity Commissioner Peter Achterstraat said evidence shows longer courses have created significant hurdles for those looking to retrain as teachers, and there were unintended costs to students and teachers with the shift to a two-year postgraduate degree.

“There are potentially 9400 aspiring teachers who would have completed under the old one-year course and that’s enough to staff 140 high schools,” Achterstraat said.

In 2013, a national approach to the accreditation of education degrees was phased in, requiring university graduates to undertake a two-year master’s degree to enter the profession. Previously, a one-year graduate diploma was sufficient.

“Would-be teachers are deterred from joining the profession because of the extra cost, the extra year of training, and the fact they are going miss out on salary,” Achterstraat said.

“You might have a maths degree and be perfect for teaching, but if you have a family and a mortgage, taking two years off work to do the training is probably not viable,” he said.

The Commission examined the economic impacts of longer postgraduate initial teacher education, and found that since NSW doubled the length of postgraduate initial teacher education, the number of students completing degrees has trended down.

It found the move to a two-year master’s is a disincentive for mid-career professionals wanting to retrain as teachers, and has cost around $3 billion in lost welfare over the past seven years.

“These costs comprise loss of teacher earnings, additional student debt for teachers, and loss of lifetime income for students. Had initial teacher education (ITE) remained as a one-year graduate diploma, we could expect more than 9000 additional ITE completions over the 2015 to 2022 period,” the report said.

The shortfall in teaching graduates with specialised skills on out-of-field teaching – where students are being taught by someone without expertise in their subject – is “concerning”, the report said. The Commission estimates that the poorer outcomes from additional out-of-field teaching costs around 95,000 students $25,000 each in lost lifetime earnings.

“These additional teachers might have alleviated the current growing shortage of qualified teachers which is well documented,” the report said.

There is scarce evidence that longer training pathways result in a better quality of teaching and many high-achieving education systems overseas such as Singapore (ranked second worldwide in PISA results) offer one-year postgraduate teaching qualifications, the report said.

“Based on a review of empirical evidence, the Commission estimates that teachers with an additional year of ITE have a negligible impact on student achievement. On the other hand, the literature consistently points to additional years of on-the-job teaching experience having a positive impact, especially for early-career teachers.”

Teacher shortages are biting across Australia – especially in maths, design and technology and science – while data reported by the Herald last year showed more than 100,000 students in NSW are taught by someone without expertise in their subject.

“While extending the initial teacher education to two years was likely done to improve teacher quality, we now know that it has not achieved that outcome. We are confident that returning to a one-year initial teacher qualification will not lower teaching standards,” Achterstraat said.

Minister for Education and Early Learning Sarah Mitchell said the current two-year master’s degree requirement was a disincentive for aspiring teachers, particularly mid-career professionals, and didn’t have a clear enough impact on student outcomes.

“This decision [to move to a one-year pathway] is backed by strong research which shows that the best way for teachers to hit the ground running is to spend more time in schools.”

The government said it will work with universities and the profession “to ensure these new courses are high-quality and prepare trainee teachers for the classroom”, and will push for it to be on the national agenda at next month’s education ministers meeting.

A policy paper released last year by conservative think tank the Centre for Independent Studies (CIS) argued mandating a two-year requirement for postgraduate teaching was crippling teacher supply. The one-year graduate diploma of education is currently held by about 60,000 teachers nationally.


Green superannuation funds are 2022’s underperformers

A bad year for super fund returns has spelt a serious setback for “green” funds as coal and oil stocks soared and clean tech shares dropped sharply.

Overall returns in super were down nearly 5 per cent – but returns were regularly twice as bad at green funds which completely missed the energy sector rebound. The average balanced fund – where most investors have most of their money – dropped by 4.8 per cent last year, the fourth negative year recorded by such funds since 2000, according to the SuperRatings group.

Top-rated green funds such as Australian Ethical had nowhere to turn when the tech sell-off accelerated in the second half of 2022. The Australian Ethical balanced fund was down 9 per cent over the year.

Australian Ethical has been the fastest growing super fund in the market in terms of member accumulation over the last five years, according to KPMG.

Some of the worst performers were new funds that target younger investors with green products: Spaceship Super, a fund which has a focus on global technology, reported a minus 15 per cent return on its growth fund.

Younger investors have clearly been attracted to the Spaceship fund – its annual report said it had an 80 per cent growth in membership last year.

Future Super, which focuses on “climate conscious super”, reported an 11 per cent drop in its balanced fund while the group’s more specialised funds did even worse: The group’s Renewables Plus Growth fund fell by 13 per cent over the year.

Cruelty Free Super, the super fund which is a “happy supporter of the vegan community”, did a little better, though its returns were still below average at minus 7.25 per cent. The fund also managed to get hit with a fine from the Australian Securities and Investments Commission this month, which was concerned over “what may have been false and misleading statements”.

“It has been a tough period for all funds, but particularly funds where ESG (environment, social and governance) settings may have meant a concentration on technology investments,” says Kirby Rappell of SuperRatings.

Major funds that managed to navigate the parallel boom in fossil fuel stocks and a ferocious sell- off in technology stocks included Hostplus, the best performing fund in the local market over the longer term. Hostplus managed to hold negative returns at minus 2.5 per cent – around half the average return of its peers.

Industry funds dominate the top performers in the market, but it was a retail fund – Perpetual’s Wealthfocus – that topped the 12 month tables with a positive return of 1.7 per cent.

Perpetual was joined by First Super’s balanced fund as the only other fund with a positive return – the First Super balanced fund managed a very slender positive return of 0.1 per cent

The Australian Retirement Trust (created through the merger of Q Super and SunSuper) ranked seventh with a minus 2.6 per cent return.




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