Saturday, 30 November 2013

Gonski report co-author labels Christopher Pyne 'a Minister on L-plates', as funding stoush heats up.

Extract from ABC News website:

Updated 16 minutes ago

A co-author of the Gonski report has labelled the new Federal Education Minister, Christopher Pyne, "a minister on L-plates" amid confusion over school funding.
Mr Pyne has not yet announced a new funding model for schools after scrapping the Gonski plan that was introduced under the previous Labor government.
On Friday Mr Pyne met with his state and territory counterparts, who described the talks as "very heated" and said they fear public schools will be the big losers under the new model.
Several education ministers have being fighting to maintain the funding agreed to under Gonski, but Mr Pyne insists it is time to go back to the drawing board.
In the meantime, it remains unclear where schools funding will come from after 2014.

The former head of the New South Wales Education Department and co-author of the Gonski report, Dr Ken Boston, says the situation could bring public education to its knees.
"Gonski was a done deal. This had been signed up. Mr Abbott had talked of a unity ticket," he said.
"Now we've not only backed away, apparently, from the unity ticket, we’ve potentially backed away from Commonwealth support for public education.
"It’s extraordinary. It's almost unbelievable that a Commonwealth minister would be silly enough to take such a position."
Dr Boston says public schools would struggle to survive if the current funding formula continued.
"Assuming there's no increase in enrolments by 2016/2017, the government sector would've received an additional six per cent, a little over $300m in funding," he said.
"The non-government sector would receive an increase in funding of about $2.4 billion, which is a little over 30 per cent of their current funding.
"Mr Pyne could say it's up to the states to pick up public school funding, but no state government is in a position to find an additional 30 per cent for public schools.

"He will bring public education to its knees."

The “annual” reduction of wages.

Brisbane, January 19, 1895.

The Editoral Mill.

Our Motto: “Socialism in our time.”

The “annual” reduction of wages has taken place in the Newcastle district. The united coal miners made a brief defensive struggle, but the coal barons, like the barons of old, had too numerous a retinue of “free” non-union labourers to permit of anything like an equal fight, and the men went down. There will now be peace for another year, if peace it can be called, when the men who risk their lives in braving the perils of their most dangerous occupation are forced by the prospect of want of employment and consequent semi-starvation to accept an unfair wage. These continual reductions are going to bring trouble or change, there can be little doubt about that. Individual coal proprietors and syndicates may be able to satisfy themselves that all the trouble caused in the Newcastle district by the perpetual lowering of wages is only the outcome of the operation of an unalterable supply-and-demand economic law. But will the men continue to quietly submit? That is the question. Some of the coal owners think they will, according to the remarks of one colliery proprietor, who claimed to express the opinion of the majority of the colliery owners. This gentleman said to a Sydney DAILY TELEGRAPH interviewer during the late strike: “They (the coal “owners”) were indifferent whether the union miners decided to strike or not. A few years ago a strike among the miners was regarded with a certain amount of dread, because no other miners were to be obtained, but each succeeded laying down of tools had resulted in more men, who were formerly only labourers, becoming trained to mining work, and when the trouble ceased these men retained in the district many of them being retained in the mines and refusing to join unions.”

* * *

This is all very well, and is an easy method of dismissing the claims of miners to a fair wage. Yet it is no answer to the query: What is going to be the end of the competition in the coal, the wool, the sugar, and other large producing industries in which an effort is being made to capture for a few syndicates in Australia the world's markets? The acceptance by the miners or the bushmen of a lower rate will not settle the trouble. If lower wages enables Newcastle to compete with Labuan in Borneo, from whence coal is landed in Singapore 12s. 9d. per ton, the coal owners of Borneo, will further reduce wages in order to enable them to successfully compete with Newcastle. Then Newcastle must further reduce, we suppose, and be followed by Labuan with a still lower rate. And the workers – the wage – earners who do most of the work, who risk the dangers, who wear the dirty clothes, and spend half their lives underground like so many rats – they they must suffer all time! It is enough to make one believe the following passage taken from an American writer is literally true: “For more centuries than men can count, might has been, practically, right. The greater insect has preyed upon the lesser, the greater bird upon the smaller; mice have eaten cockroaches in obedience to nature, and cats have eaten mice. The rat ate the malt, the cat ate the rat, the dog worried the cat, and so it goes. The cry of murder is going up day and night from every blade of grass in the fields, from every leaf in the forests. Under nice words and high sounding phrases, but the Nineteenth century is no better and no worse than its predecessors. The weaker must go to the wall!” If this is so, then the Newcastle miners must ask themselves whether they do right in quietly submitting to every reduction that the coal proprietors (who did nothing to place the coal in the ground or take it from out thereof, and who have no moral right to individually appropriate what belongs to the whole community) choose to inflict upon them. The WORKER doesn't recommend Force – never did. But it would prefer to see the Newcastle miners make a more united resistance to the continued demands of coal syndicates for reduced rates. That resistance can be made constitutionally on the lines of a few years ago, when the rugged eloquence of the Newcastle miner was too much for the peace of mind of the non-union blackleg who invariably left the field quicker than he came to it, having been convinced that the coal owners were wrong and the men right.

* * *

While recommending the Newcastle miners not to sit quietly down under injustice, the WORKER wishes it to be distinctly understood that the successful resistance of a reduction in rates or the enforcement of a demand for an increase will not put an end to strife in the Newcastle district. Where there are so many coal companies there is sure to be continual trouble. The ultimate aim of the union miner should be the nationalisation of the coal mines of the colony. Then when the people are the coal proprietors, and the coal syndicates have to turn their brains to some other speculation, the people's representatives will see that the coal miner has the highest current rate of wages until such time as a better method of giving the worker the product of his own labour and his share of the bounties of Nature, presents itself.

Tony Abbott's government is bending the truth. And that’s a fact.

Extract from The Guardian website:

Political debate is cheapened when politicians' idea of truth is whatever the public can be convinced to believe.
Political debate seems increasingly unhitched from a normal, factual understanding of the concept of truth, and it’s a much more complicated problem than whether the Coalition’s pre-election whopper about maintaining four years of Gonski funding is comparable with Julia Gillard’s lie about not leading a government that introduced a carbon tax.
“Truths” now seem to be things most people can be convinced to believe rather than arguments or assertions that can be factually proven.
And a fast, shallow news cycle, with ever-more splintered sources of information, favours simple claims over complex arguments and rewards endless repetition.
Julia Gillard, for example, clearly broke her no carbon tax promise. But her bald statement – so neatly adaptable to a meme or a ringtone – amplified the factual breach (she began the promised emissions trading scheme with a three-year fixed price, or tax) into the widely held, but false, belief that she’d gone back on a pledge not to have any carbon price at all.
Since 2009, Tony Abbott has promised to increase Australia’s 2020 greenhouse gas reduction pledge above 5% under a specific set of conditions. After the election he insisted 5% was the outer limit, and claimed, despite ample contrary evidence, that this had always been his stance. Reneging on a promise about the end target of the country’s entire greenhouse gas reduction effort – the point of the whole exercise – would seem like a bigger deal than reneging on a promise about the first three years of your chosen mechanism to get there, but apparently this was too complicated an argument to cause much of a ripple.
And as he cranks up the argument over the next few weeks that parliament should pass his carbon tax repeal, Abbott will undoubtedly repeat his line that it “doesn’t even work anyway” because under the carbon tax Australia’s emissions will go up in 2020, not down.
The fact is that unlike, say, direct action, an emissions trading scheme is guaranteed to meet its target by its very design, because the whole point is for the price to vary to make sure it does so. The modelling, now outdated anyway, which showed domestic emissions would be higher, was based on the forecast that to achieve the 5% reduction, 58m tonnes of emission reductions would occur domestically and 94m tonnes of cheaper emission reductions would be bought offshore, which is something the business community is desperately pleading for the Coalition to also do, in order to try to salvage something affordable and workable from direct action. But see how long it took to explain all of that? That’s why it’s so hard to contradict the misleading “doesn’t work anyway” claim.
Similarly, education minister Christopher Pyne is trying to use the complexity of education funding arrangements to get around the clear fact he has broken a promise to keep at least four years of Gonski-level education spending.
Yep, Labor shovelled $1.2bn back into general revenue when a bunch of states didn’t sign up to its deal, but we already knew that.
Pyne is resolutely pointing to this old news and insisting we all “look over there”, but the Gonski signatory states are refusing to budge from the main point – that they’ve been dudded.
That’s making it harder for Pyne to divert attention from the fact that he promised parents before the election there would be no difference in funding levels for four years, and now he isn’t.
Making the whole pinning down the truth thing even more difficult, since policy and promises no longer seem to have to match a clear set of ideological dispositions.
Kevin Rudd was happy to ditch the entire free market legacy of the Hawke and Keating years with a late-election campaign foray into “economic nationalism” and professed “discomfort” with the whole idea of too much foreign investment.
Tony Abbott had had some years to practise his own obfuscatory tactics in the same policy area, using discussion papers and appeasing words to simultaneously satisfy the free marketeer Liberals and protectionist Nationals.
But in government the contradictions are harder to paper over. The Business Council and the Australian Industry Group were straight on to the inconsistency between declaring the country “open for business” and refusing a foreign takeover bid that the competition watchdog said was fine, but which the National party really didn’t like.
Abbott claimed on Friday that Labor had no right to make accusations about truthfulness unless it voted for the repeal of the carbon tax, which he labelled “the most fundamental commitment of all”; presumably on the basis that he says it is.
“How can Labor accuse the government of breaking a commitment if it tries to stop us from keeping the most fundamental commitment of all: the commitment to repeal the carbon tax?” he asked, rhetorically.
Well, prime minister, because one broken promise does not cancel out another, and both sides of politics keep bending the truth. And that’s a fact.

Public schools to bear brunt of Pyne Gonski switch, say education ministers.

Extract from The Guardian website:

Federal minister looking to reduce funding share for public schools sector, say state ministers after angry meeting.

The federal government is looking to reduce the share of funding it provides to the public school sector, according to angry state and territory education ministers who faced off with Christopher Pyne at a “very heated” meeting on Friday.
Far from allaying concerns over the federal government’s decision to rewrite the David Gonski-inspired funding system next year, Friday’s face-to-face discussion has further stoked anger from both Liberal and Labor colleagues who are demanding assurances their states will not be disadvantaged for having signed deals with the former government.
In a show of force, the education ministers from jurisdictions that signed a deal – the conservative-led New South Wales and Victoria and Labor-run South Australia, Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory – jointly fronted the media in Sydney to demand the government meet its election pledge to honour signed agreements on school funding.
The NSW education minister, Adrian Piccoli, led the attack on his federal Coalition colleagues, saying pointedly that the Abbott government had broken its election promises and the “parents of the millions of children” had a right to be disappointed.
“The government made a promise, made a commitment, that there would be no broken promises under the government that they lead, and unfortunately that has not come to pass,” Piccoli said.
Pyne said this week he would match the $1.6bn total extra federal funding budgeted by Labor over the next four years, plus an extra $230m for Western Australia, Queensland and the Northern Territory – states which failed to reach a deal with the former government before the election. He has not repeated pledges that no school would be worse off.
States that signed up fear they will lose out in a redistribution of funding after 2014 as part of Pyne’s yet-to-be-developed new funding model.
Piccoli said there was uncertainty over who would bear the loss of any reduction in funding in the three years after 2014, revealing Pyne made comments “that would presume that that loss will have to be borne by public schools”.
“When asked for clarification about that, or to confirm that that was not the case, no such clarification was forthcoming, so not only do we have the uncertainty about the funding over six years, over four years – what that funding might be, even within four years – but the reduction in the funding, where’s that burden going to fall?,” said Piccoli, a National party minister.
“It’s been made very clear to me by the independent and Catholic sectors in NSW that they agree to the split of additional funds that we signed up to.”
Piccoli added: “I think that’s quite an incredible outcome, if reduced funding for states only comes out of public schools, not out of non-government schools.”
The Tasmanian education minister, Nick McKim, said Pyne “implied strongly” that he retained the capacity to renegotiate agreements, including on the funding share between government and non-government school sectors.
“This is a bombshell revelation that will rock the public education system in Australia to its core,” said McKim, who is also leader of the Greens in Tasmania.
“You wouldn’t have thought it possible; there is now less certainty at lunchtime today than there was when we walked into this meeting this morning. That is down to Christopher Pyne’s complete incapacity to offer any guarantees that satisfied these states.”
Pyne, who was standing nearby during the state ministers’ media conference, sought to downplay the conflict, saying there was nothing new in disputes between federal and state governments over funding and he expected ministers to argue strongly on behalf of their states.
Asked whether he was committed to a sector-blind approach to funding, Pyne said: “The sector-blind approach to funding was for disadvantaged students … I’m completely committed to a sector-blind approach on the loadings that might follow students whether they are in the public sector or the private sector, and that’s always what we’ve said.”
The reforms pursued by the former Labor federal government would see a base level of funding for each student, to be topped up by sector-blind loadings targeting specific categories of disadvantage. The benchmark funding for each student was to be adjusted in the non-government school sector, based on the capacity of parents to pay.
Catholic and independent schools have previously received the majority of government funding from the Commonwealth, while public schools have been largely funded by the states. The Gonski panel’s report, published last year, recommended a shift towards “more balanced funding roles”, with the Commonwealth assuming a greater role in funding government schools and the states taking on a greater role in funding non-government schools.
Australian Education Union national president Angelo Gavrielatos said the loadings represented only a small fraction of all the additional funding and he feared cuts to the base funding.
He said any suggestion that any such cut would be borne only by the public school sector was “an affront to every public school student, their teachers and their parents”, given the majority of disadvantaged students attended government schools.
“In all of my involvement over many years I’ve never seen a press conference where ministers – National party ministers, Liberal party ministers, a Greens minister and Labor ministers – have expressed such unity and such force with respect to the critical issue of funding,” Gavrielatos said.
Further comment is being sought from Pyne about his plans regarding federal funding shares for government and non-government schools. But he earlier told reporters in Sydney that the Coalition had made it clear it would match funding over four years, rather than the full six-year agreements signed by Labor.
“Every commitment that I have made, we are keeping, but we do need to sort out the [Bill] Shorten shambles I have been left,” Pyne said. “The idea there is a national funding model is quite frankly farcical and everyone knows it.”
Pyne said the former government had made different deals with different states when it came to annual indexation and the pace at which the new base level of funding would be reached.
His new model, to be revealed early next year, would be truly national and fair and would not treat students in some states as second class, he said.
Piccoli, chair of the ministerial council that met in Sydney, said states that signed a deal with the Commonwealth before the election did not oppose extra money flowing to the hold-out states, but this funding should not be taken away from the early adopters.
He said the recent funding agreements had brought peace to the long-running battles over funding of public schools and non-government schools, but the federal government had now “plunged education across this country into unnecessary uncertainty”.
“The bottom line is the current federal government made unequivocal promises that they would honour dollar for dollar agreements and funding signed by the states, and those signatory states are here as part of this press conference and we are very disappointed that they have so far made announcements that they are not going to honour those agreements,” Piccoli said.
The Victorian Liberal education minister, Martin Dixon, said the state was currently framing its budget for the 2014-15 financial year, but had no certainty about the level of federal support for schools in the 2015 calendar year.
An open letter to Pyne, signed by Gonski review panel members Ken Boston, Kathryn Greiner and Carmen Lawrence, as well as education advocates and charities, urges the federal government to stick by its election claim to be on a school funding “unity ticket” with Labor by keeping the new system for at least four years.
The prime minister, Tony Abbott, told reporters in Adelaide on Friday he could guarantee "that the money that was agreed to for next year will be fully delivered".
But the federal opposition education spokeswoman, Kate Ellis, said the prospect of public school funding cuts would revive a divisive debate pitting parent against parent, school against school and state against state.
"We know that some of the most disadvantaged schools in this country are run in the government system and they cannot be thrown aside by this cruel government who have already broken promise after promise when it comes to school funding," Ellis said in Adelaide.
The Greens' spokeswoman on schools, Penny Wright, said the Coalition's "elitist and shameful" plan went against the Gonski aim to end huge education gaps between the most and least privileged children

Gonski row: States vow to fight Christopher Pyne's school funding overhaul.

Extract from ABC News website:

Updated 4 hours 25 minutes ago

A political storm over the Government's decision to axe Labor's so-called Gonski school funding is threatening to spill over into next month's meeting between the Prime Minister and state premiers.
Education Minister Christopher Pyne has pledged to renegotiate all school funding deals made by the former government after next year.
On Friday Mr Pyne met with his state and territory counterparts, who described the talks as "very heated" and said they fear public schools will be the big losers under the new model.
Ministers from Tasmania, Victoria, South Australia, New South Wales and the ACT came out of the meeting as a united group, saying that all they have been given from the Government is more uncertainty.
New South Wales Premier Barry O'Farrell says if it is not resolved soon, it will become an issue for Prime Minister Tony Abbott to fix.
"It's untenable that states do deals with federal governments, to have those agreements simply shredded when it suits one of the jurisdictions," he said.
Victorian Premier Denis Napthine is demanding the Federal Government honour the Gonski deal.
"The Victorian Government worked extremely hard to get the best deal for Victorian schools and that's government schools, Catholic schools and non-government schools, and we will expect the Federal Abbott Government to stick to that deal," he said.
Having hounded Labor, the Coalition has decided to break one of its own promises, writes Barrie Cassidy. Tasmanian Minister Nick McKim says it is a "bombshell revelation that will rock the public education system to the core".

Friday, 29 November 2013


Media Release.

Shadow Health Minister Jo-Ann Miller  today called on the Newman Government to abandon its controversial policy to force Queensland’s senior doctors to sign individual contracts after warnings that the future of the State’s public hospitals was at risk.

“Doctors are angry and the Australian Medical Association Queensland said today that if the LNP does not back down it believes doctors will either leave Queensland or leave the public health system."

“This headlong plunge into Newman’s WorkChoices is threatening the very existence of our health system, particularly in remote and regional areas where Queensland Health struggles to attract and retain highly trained staff,” she said.

Mrs Miller said while the Newman Government’s failure to consult had set it on a potentially disastrous collision course with the AMA, it wasn’t just doctors who would have their workplace agreements and awards stripped away.

“Queenslanders are waking up to the fact that these dictatorial changes, forced through Parliament with a massive majority and ignoring all pleas to consult with stakeholders, will bring Queensland Health into dispute with dentists, senior nurses and medical officers."

“It is as if Health Minister Lawrence Springborg is trying to provoke a crisis to undermine the public health service and force patients to use private health care."

“The Opposition supports the AMA and the Australian Salaried Medical Officers Federation which today lodged a notice of dispute in the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission."

“Labor believes in adequately funded public hospitals staffed by the best specialists, surgeons, doctors, nurses and allied health professionals available. We believe in fair enterprise agreements to attract and retain the staff needed to provide world-class healthcare."

“If the Newman Government continues down this road to private contracts for all staff earning more than $129,000 it risks destroying a system cherished by all Queenslander,” she said.

States say Christopher Pyne has dropped public schools bombshell in heated education meeting

Extract from ABC News website:

Updated 16 minutes ago

Public schools may be the big losers under the Government's plans to scrap Labor's Gonski education package, state and territory ministers say they have been told.
Ministers raised the concerns after emerging from a "very heated" meeting with their federal counterpart, Christopher Pyne, in Sydney today.
Mr Pyne announced this week the Federal Government would keep Labor's school funding plan in place for 2014 then replace it with a new funding model.
State and territory ministers say they have not been given any commitment over the level of school funding they will receive after 2014.
The ministers from Tasmania, Victoria, South Australia, New South Wales and the ACT came out of the meeting in Sydney as a group saying that all they have been given from the Government is more uncertainty.
New South Wales Minister Adrian Piccoli says the Commonwealth has plunged education across the country into unnecessary uncertainty.

"The Commonwealth has implied that if there is a reduction in funding for states that signed up to the Gonski plan the reduction may well only come out of public schools," he said.
"That is of enormous concern to all jurisdictions."
Mr Piccoli added the Gonski plan had ended the war between government and non-government schools over funding.
"For six months we've had peace in terms of that argument but unfortunately the actions by the Commonwealth have now reignited that."
Victorian Premier Denis Napthine warned Mr Pyne he will accept nothing less than the full deal agreed to under the Gonski plan.
"The Victorian Government fought long and hard and got the best deal possible for all Victorian schools," he said.
"We expect the Federal Government to stick to that deal and we'll be fighting for that for Victoria."
Tasmanian Minister Nick McKim says it is a "bombshell revelation that will rock the public education system to the core".

Education ministers present 'unity ticket' on funding

The row has united the state and territory education ministers, who had struck deals with the former Labor government and are insisting they be honoured in full.
"Here's a unity ticket for you right here - a Labor minister, a Greens minister, National ministers, Liberal Party ministers, sticking up and unified behind Australian schools and behind funding certainty for Australian schools," Mr McKim said.
Mr Pyne played down the row and insisted the Coalition is keeping all its pre-election commitments.
"Low and behold there is a disagreement about funding between the states and the territories and the Commonwealth," Mr Pyne said after the meeting.
"I am the national Education Minister, there needs to be national model that is fair to all states and territories and that is equitable to students and that is what we will achieve."
Mr Pyne said that "no-one should assume they will get less money".
"I'm completely committed to a sector-blind approach on the loadings that might follow students, whether they are in the public sector or the private sector and that's always what we've said."
Before the meeting, the Australian Education Union urged states and territories to hold the Government to account.
AEU president Angelo Gavrielatos says the state should ensure the Gonski agreement is kept.
"The Coalition before the election made it very clear that they would honour every agreement and deliver for schools dollar for dollar what had been promised to them," he said.

"Keep the promise, keep the promise, because ultimately it is about our children, their futures, but also the future productivity and prosperity of the nation as a whole."


Media Release.

Mark Butler
Shadow Minister for Climate Change 

Date:  28 November 2013

The federal budget could take a whopping $1.5 billion hit with the abolition of the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC), a Senate Inquiry has heard.

CEFC Chair Jillian Broadbent told the inquiry the CEFC could make $200 million a year for the taxpayer and could reduce 50 per cent of Australia's carbon pollution by 2020.

CEFC Chief Executive Oliver Yates called it "the lowest cost action you are going to get".

The CEFC makes a commercial return from loans to help new, ambitious renewable projects get a foothold; projects like the Macarthur Wind Farm, the largest in the Southern Hemisphere.

These loans have the potential to generate $200 million a year for the taxpayer, while Ms Broadbent told the inquiry that, “It will cost the taxpayer more to shut down the CEFC than it will save.”

But despite the evidence, Tony Abbott is going ahead with closing the CEFC, ignoring the advice of experts once again.

Tony Abbott has ignored the advice of business (the Australian Industry Group representing 60,000 Australian businesses) who have called for an international market-based mechanism as the cheapest and most effective way to reduce carbon pollution.

He has ignored the advice of economists and climate scientists who say that his climate con - where the taxpayer pays big polluters - will not work. 

He is taking the axe to renewable energy, slashing hundreds of millions of dollars to Australia’s Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA).

He has silenced the independent voices of the Climate Commission and the Climate Change Authority, made up of some of Australia's most highly esteemed business leaders, economists and scientists, including Australia's Chief Scientist.

Now he is ignoring advice which will have a significant impact on the federal budget.

The arrogance of this government is simply staggering. 

Just 12 per cent of voters believe Tony Abbott's Direct Action con will work, while the overwhelming majority wants Australia to take action on climate change.

But Tony Abbott doesn't accept the "so-called science".

Tony Abbott needs to emerge from the dark ages and listen to experts, business, economists, scientists, and the Australian people on this. On this one, Tony Abbott is totally alone.

Pathology workers fear for the future.

Media Release.

Member for Mulgrave Curtis Pitt says uncertainty created by the Newman Government’s privatisation agenda is taking a psychological toll on frontline medical staff.
“Key workers who provide essential health services should feel secure in their jobs and confident that they are valued,” said Mr Pitt.
“But sadly that’s not the case these days for staff who fear “fee for service” in our state hospitals and the mass outsourcing of the services they provide."
“Medical science staff in hospital pathology labs, for example, believe their jobs are in the firing line and they are worried not only for their own futures, but that lives that will be at risk if their labs are closed.”
Mr Pitt said the Newman Government has moved rapidly to commercialise the services of Pathology Queensland, which is why pathologists feel so insecure.
The contestability process for privatising Pathology Queensland is likely to be completed in the next two months and companies are circling like vultures waiting for the kill.
“Workers I have spoken to say they feel vulnerable and helpless and are worried that most people have no understanding of the services they provide."
“They say that if services are outsourced and small labs at regional hospitals are closed those hospitals will no longer be able to provide obstetric, dialysis and chemotherapy services."
“Private commercial pathology services turn blood tests round in a couple of days, but hospital labs work far more quickly and are capable of more complex testing."
“These scientists also work closely with medical staff to assist them with interpreting results and help to train medical students."
“It is absolutely vital that these functions are retained if, as seems inevitable, the Newman Government outsources pathology services to save money."
“The shakedown has already begun in earnest. Last year the number of staff employed by Pathology Queensland reduced by 105."
“So far this year the Rockhampton and Cairns labs have each lost three staff, the Royal Brisbane Hospital lab has shed 10 and staff have been lost at Toowoomba, Townsville, Bundaberg, Gold Coast and Brisbane’s Princess Alexandra Hospital."
“Staff are stressed and morale is low. These are people who care passionately about the work they do and the life-saving services they provide and they deserve far better than this.”
Mr Pitt said he was disgusted at the lack of communication from managers in Brisbane.
“This is a very anxious time for those who work in frontline medical services at our public hospitals and Health Minister Lawrence Springborg is doing nothing to ease that anxiety."
“Queenslanders should be aware of what is happening and the potential impact of the Newman Government’s policies on the services on which they rely.”

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Australia's schools are underfunded, undervalued and, yes, unequal.

Extract from The Guardian website: 

Minister Christopher Pyne refuses to believe there's an equity issue in schools across the country Tell that to teachers who have to pay for classroom items out of their own pockets

by Jane Caro Wednesday 27 November 2013 14.27 AEST

In proud, egalitarian Australia, our lowest performing students are as many as eight years behind our highest performing students. Yet education minister Christopher Pyne says we do not have an equity problem in Australia’s education system.
Australia is the kick-arse economy of the western world, sailing through the global financial crisis while enjoying one of the lowest debt ratios. We remain triple AAA rated. We are also the third lowest funders of public education in the OECD, yet Pyne says this doesn’t matter – because we do not have an equity problem.
 In Victoria between 2003 and 2011, the percentage of high VCE scores in schools servicing the most disadvantaged students has fallen by a catastrophic 21.2%. Yet Pyne says we do not have an equity problem.
A few years ago, a deputy principal told me about a 13 year old who was hit by a car outside his public high school in a disadvantaged area in Sydney. He was rushed to intensive care. It turned out the boy was seriously short-sighted, and one of five siblings with the same condition. His mother had the prescriptions in her purse, but could not afford glasses for all five children, so none of them were able to learn properly. The school later discovered that the mother was not able to afford the food in the hospital canteen while staying by his bedside, and as such was not eating. To help, they had a gold coin donation day. For the first time ever, they raised a few hundred dollars, which was an achievement. Schools that must fundraise among poor families are generally not very successful, as the families they service have so little to spare. Yet Pyne says we do not have an equity problem in Australia.
Public schools report dipping into their own slender budgets, and sometimes principal’s own pockets to pay family electricity bills so that students can keep access to their computer and also get the occasional warm meal. Public schools in disadvantaged communities often must find a refuge for families who flee domestic violence or are made homeless. But there is no equity problem in schools in Australia, according to Pyne.
There are students in public schools who must juggle their school commitments with a job, because theirs is the only income in the family. Why public schools, predominantly? Because if you are poor you can’t afford school fees – that’s why fees are sorting mechanisms. Yet Pyne can’t see any equity problems.
Public school teachers in NSW can pay up to $5,000 out of their own pockets for classroom items because the school budgets simply do not cover the costs. These items can include pens, exercise books, whiteboard pens, paper – you name it. I know of one public school that discovered the cleaners (even lower paid than the teachers) were having to buy cleaning products out of their own pockets because the school’s budget had run out. The teachers chipped in and bought the cleaning products themselves. It is also routine for teachers to pay for students to attend excursions and sports carnivals and camps so they will not be left out. But, according to the minister with responsibility for education, there is no equity problem in Australia.
A young teacher I know was surprised to find a boy in her bottom Year 9 English class who had a subtle and brilliant mind. The verbal answers he gave in class revealed a sophisticated conceptual ability. She asked her colleagues in the English staffroom (as they drank the tea and biscuits they pay for themselves) why such a bright boy was in her low ability class. “He’s smart, alright,” another teacher told her, “But he comes from such a chaotic background that he never knows where he will sleep that night, or where his next meal is coming from. He can hardly read or write, he puts all his wits into just surviving from day to day.” But ... you guessed it, there is no equity problem.
Researcher Barbara Preston says that in 1996, there were 13 low income kids to every 10 higher income kids in our public secondary schools. By 2006 this ratio had increased to 16 low income kids to every 10 higher income kids. No doubt that ratio is even greater now.
We are increasingly dividing our children through our school system, creating ghettos of privilege and under-privilege. Some schools – mostly public schools - are struggling with increasing concentrations of the hardest and most expensive to teach kids (such as the ones described above) on public funding that government’s ever more grudgingly give them. Other schools – mostly fee-charging – enjoy concentrations of much easier students to teach in publicly subsidised luxury.
In my view such extremes of wealth and poverty are not good for any of our children, but minister Pyne tells me they do not indicate an equity problem in Australian education.

Bill Shorten on ABC 7:30 SUBJECT/S: The Abbott’s Government’s Broken Promise on Schools Funding; Indonesia.


HOST, LEIGH SALES: The Education Minister Christopher Pyne was unavailable for an interview but the Opposition Leader Bill Shorten joined me earlier here in the studio.
Bill Shorten, welcome to the program.
SALES: Let me ask you to clarify a few things straight away that Minister Pyne has raised today. Is it accurate that neither Victoria, nor Tasmania nor the Catholic schools sector formally signed up to the school funding arrangement?
SHORTEN: No. The Government today has broken a promise it made with the Catholic education system, the Victorian and Tasmanian governments. They signed a Heads of Agreement. They absolutely did a deal to make sure their children at the schools that they run got the extra funding which Labor was promising, so that every child gets funded according to need.
SALES: So there is an actual written deal then that binds the Commonwealth to that arrangement?
SHORTEN: There are signed, well first of all with the government system, there’s a national agreement, then there is Heads of Agreement as well, signed between the jurisdictions. So the answer to the government systems is yes there is. In the case of the non-government sector, their funding base is outlined in the Act. The Act went through Parliament. We had meetings, I had meetings directly myself with the independent schools and also extensive meetings with the Catholic Education Commissions, both nationally and some of the states. They publicly committed to a deal, so did the Government, and the then Opposition said before the election there was a unity ticket on education, that whatever the funding envelope was that we’d agreed to would be happening. Now, 10 weeks later, this is not the Government that people thought they would be and what’s happening is they’re now breaking a promise to every school parent in Australia.
SALES: I’ll pick up on some of those points in a second but let me ask you to clarify one other point that Christopher Pyne raised. Did Labor cut $1.2 billion out of its mooted education funding because Queensland, WA and the Northern Territory didn’t sign up for the deal?
SHORTEN: No, Labor increased funding for education across Australia during its term. We wanted Queensland, Western Australia and the Northern Territory to sign up to our reforms. They wouldn’t guarantee us that they wouldn’t cut their own Budgets and just replace it with Commonwealth money. But everything we have done was spelled out in Budget updates before the election, and also the Opposition said before the election in black and white that they will honour the agreements and the arrangements which Labor has struck. Now they are saying that they’re going to renegotiate all agreements. This is crazy and this is a broken promise to every parent in Australia.
SALES: Okay, you said before that voters are not getting the government that they elected. But they are the government, they can do what they like now they’re in possession of the full information and full briefings from Treasury and the Department of Finance?
SHORTEN: I think this goes to trust. This is now no longer just an education issue. First of all, there are 3.6 million schoolchildren in Australia. Their parents, their teachers reasonably expect that the government of the day will stick to its election promises. This government is not sticking to its election promise. They said there would be a unity ticket before the election. Everyone knows that the Liberals were vulnerable on one issue in this election, that was their education credibility. They hadn’t done the work, belatedly they scrambled to catch up. Their spokesperson and I appeared on your show at this very desk and the Liberals said to my frustration, there’s no difference between Liberal and Labor. Now what’s happened is they’ve reneged. But there’s a deeper issue here. It goes to trust. 10 weeks in, the Coalition Government cannot be trusted to keep their election promises they made before the election. This is a most serious issue.
SALES: Let’s turn to the diplomatic crisis with Indonesia. Tony Abbott has inherited this mess due to actions that were taken under the former Labor Government, that’s right, isn’t it?
SHORTEN: I believe that this issue is a very difficult issue and it be difficult for whoever was in government.
SALES: That’s a statement of fact I’ve just made, isn’t it?
SHORTEN: But let’s go through this. This is a very difficult issue for any government. You know as well as I do that there’s a convention about people not talking about intelligence matters.
SALES: Have you asked the relevant Ministers at the time if they were aware that DSD was bugging the phones of President Yudhoyono and his wife?
SHORTEN: I have to say that when it comes to national security we’re going to respect whatever briefings have been provided to my predecessors.
SALES: But we’re in a major diplomatic crisis now. It occurred thanks to actions when Labor was in power, you haven’t asked the relevant Ministers at the time what was it done, why was it done, were they aware of it?
SHORTEN: Leigh, I think you appreciate as much as anyone else that what we have here is a situation where there’s a breach of security.
SALES: You don’t have to tell me what they said, I’m just asking do you know, have you asked?
SHORTEN: I’m not privy to National Security Council matters of that type.
SALES: Why haven’t you asked the Ministers at the time what was going on?
SHORTEN: Leigh, what we’re talking about is very clearly a massive breach of security.
SALES: That’s all I’m asking why you haven’t asked for some detail?
SHORTEN: I understand that, I appreciate your question. What I’m saying very clearly is that Labor, like Liberal, will respect the security conventions about not talking about intelligence matters.
SALES: Have you considered asking Kevin Rudd, because he was Prime Minister at the time this occurred, to be the one to make an apology to President Yudhoyono?
SHORTEN: If the Government wants the help of the Labor Party in whatever form we are ready to assist the Government.
SALES: Would it be appropriate for Kevin Rudd to offer that to help out?
SHORTEN: I respect that if the Prime Minister wants the Opposition to assist it in this matter we are happy to assist in whatever format that our diplomats and our security advisers recommend.
SALES: Would you yourself be prepared to offer an apology on behalf of the former government?
SHORTEN: First of all I’d have to know everything that had happened which I’ve told you I don’t, but I am prepared to do whatever the Prime Minister and the others think will be of assistance to help repair the relationship. This is a bipartisan matter.
SALES: On this point that you want a bipartisan approach, you’ve had some of your ministers come out and say things that aren’t exactly bipartisan. The Labor Shadow Minister Brendan O’Connor said today the Australian relationship with Indonesia had gone backwards because of the Government’s failure to respond adequately and quickly. On the weekend your Foreign Affairs Spokeswoman Tanya Plibersek said the Government’s performance haven’t been terrific. Are you having trouble exercising leadership over your frontbench in this matter?
SHORTEN: I think Brendan O’Connor and Tanya Plibersek are outstanding spokespeople in their areas.
SALES: They’re not in step with you on this issue are they?
SHORTEN: Yes, we all are because what we recognise is that the Government needs to resolve this matter in the speediest fashion possible.
SALES: They’re not taking a bipartisan approach though?
SHORTEN: No, I think you will find that they too want the Government to resolve this matter.
SALES: Why are they criticising the Government then?
SHORTEN: I think it’s legitimate to say what you may think in terms of policy propositions and emphasise the need for speed, so I do believe though that if anyone was to challenge Labor and say that Labor is not willing to support the Government resolve this matter, that would not be correct.
SALES: Mr Shorten, thank you very much for coming in.
SHORTEN: Hey thanks.



Media Release.



26 November  2013

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has today broken his pre-election promise that no school will be worse off under a Coalition Government.
Before the election, Mr Abbott said:
As far as I am concerned, as far as Christopher Pyne is concerned, as far as the Coalition is concerned, we want to end the uncertainty by guaranteeing that no school will be worse off over the forward estimates period. So, we will honour the agreements that Labor has entered into. We will match the offers that Labor has made. We will make sure that no school is worse off.
(Press Conference – Melbourne 2 August 2013 – Attached)
Before the election, Education Minister Christopher Pyne said:
“No school will be worse off, whether it is a Liberal or Labor government in the next term.”
(Sydney Morning Herald – 16 August 2013)
This morning, Mr Abbott was asked whether he would honour that commitment:
Question: You’re guaranteeing that no individual school will be worse off?
Abbott: No – what we’re saying is we will absolutely honour our pre-election commitment and our pre-election commitment was there would be exactly the same quantum of funding under the Coalition as under the Labor party.
(Press Conference – Melbourne – Today, 27 November 2013)
By breaking his pre-election promise, the Prime Minister is leaving no doubt whatsoever that schools and students will be worse off under his Government.
Tony Abbott and Christopher Pyne told the Australian people there was a ‘unity ticket’ when it came to school funding.
We now know this was a lie.
This is not the Government they told the Australian people they would be.

Labor will fight this broken promise alongside State Premiers, whether they’re Liberal or Labor, and anyone else who wants better education for our kids.


Media Release.

Catherine KingMP.
Shadow Minister for Health

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Despite repeated promises from the Prime Minister, Treasurer and Minister for Health that the health budget would not be cut, Australians are once again being shown this is not the government they were promised.

Reports today reveal that the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme is in the Abbott Government’s sights for cuts.  Some medicines are seen as “unaffordable across the long-term” according to reports, which can only be a bad outcome for patients.

Mr Dutton has failed to promise that cuts will not be made to medical research, cancer centres or Medicare Locals, and now it’s clear that cuts to the PBS are being considered too.

Mr Dutton has no vision for his portfolio other than finding savings for the Prime Minister.

More than two and a half months after taking over he has yet to articulate what his vision is in health or what his priorities are, other than cuts.

Instead we have seen –

•    the abolition of the Alcohol and Other Drugs Council;
•    a backflip on no Medicare Locals closing;
•    the abolition of an expert panel on infant formula;
•    and $100 million ripped from the Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital.

It’s not a good start by Mr Dutton and the Abbott Government on health, and the future looks just as bleak.

The government needs to promise this morning that cuts will not be made to the PBS. This will give clarity to the sector as well as give Australians certainty that they will have access to the life-saving drugs they need.


Media Release.

Catherine King MP.
Shadow Minister for Health 

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

The Abbott Government’s decision to cut all funding for the Alcohol and Other Drugs Council demonstrates how little this government cares about public health.

The Council was established in 1966 and has been involved in every major public debate about alcohol and drug throughout its decades of operation.

“This is simply not the government the Australian people voted for.  The government can’t simply wish away the problems ADCA addressed.  It has decades of policy and advocacy experience in this sector and the decision to abolish it beggars beliefs,” said Shadow Minister for Health Catherine King.

“The role of the Council in bringing together the hundreds of organisations in this sector cannot be replaced."

“The financial contribution the Commonwealth made was relatively small for its output, which is why this decision truly beggars belief."

“We know Mr Abbott and his colleagues have no time for the advice of public health experts, and this is patently clear from today’s decision."

“I wish to particularly pay tribute to David Templeman who had been CEO since 2006, particularly for his work on the National Illicit Drugs Campaign, where he often provided a voice for those who would not have had one.  As a result of the Abbott Government, they no longer will."

“Should rates of alcohol abuse and illicit drug use rise in the future, this decision should weigh heavily on Mr Dutton.  It is one I utterly condemn.”

Despite this government’s promise not to cut funding from health, we’ve already seen a backflip on the commitment not to close any Medicare Locals, confirmation that hundreds of public servants working on health policy will lose their jobs, and $100 million ripped from the Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital.

This is a callous decision and one that should be reversed immediately.


Media Release.
Kate Ellis MP.
Shadow Minister for Early Childhood
26 Nov 2013 

The Abbott Government has caused great uncertainty in Australian schools just weeks before the start of the new school year by announcing that it will seek to re-negotiate school funding with every state and territory around the country.

Mr Abbott and Mr Pyne is desperately trying to rewrite history and break his clear promise to match Labor's needs based funding model:

"We have agreed to the government's school funding model."

"We are committed to the student resource standard, of course we are. We are committed to this new school funding model."

Just last week Christopher Pyne told Peter van Onselen on Sky News -

"Over the next four years, we will maintain the new school funding model, and the budget that went with that."

States and territories who signed up to Labor's Better Schools funding model have come out publically against the Abbott Government's moves to dismantle it and demanded they keep their pre-election promise to honour the deals made.

"We expect the Australian Government to abide by their promise to the Tasmanian people. It's just not good enough to throw away an election promise, to break an election promise like that when this is about our children's future - they made a promise, they better not break it."

"The NSW Government has a binding agreement with the Commonwealth Government on school funding for the next six years, and NSW expects the Commonwealth to fulfil its obligations under this agreement. As the Minister for Education, I can say that NSW will not agree to returning to the broken SES funding model."

"Tony Abbott made it very clear that existing deals, such as the Heads of Agreenment between Victoria and Commonwealth, would be honoured."

"The Abbott Government is throwing Australians schools into a world of uncertainty just weeks before the start of the new school year," Shadow Minister for Education, Kate Ellis, said.

"States and territories are rightly concerned that the Abbott Government is refusing to guarantee that no school will be worse off under their new funding model."

"This broken promise is unjustified and inexcusable."

"Nothing has changed since the election, or indeed since last week, so there is no excuse for this breach of commitment to the Australian people," said Ms Ellis. 


Media Release.
Kate Ellis MP.
Shadow Minister for Early Childhood
24 Nov 2013 
With the Abbott Government freezing the $300 million Early Years Quality Fund, they are left with no justification to pursue $100 million in cuts by freezing indexation of the Child Care Rebate.

This week the Abbott Government introduced legislation to stop the indexation of the child care rebate.

Remarkably, Tony Abbott wrote to every child care centre in the country during the 2013 election campaign to point out that the impact of freezing the cap on child care rebate is "increasing out-of-pocket costs for parents."

In 2010 Sussan Ley told the Parliament that removing indexation would "further increase the financial pressure on Australian families who are already struggling to meet the costs of child care."

Shadow Minister for Early Childhood, Kate Ellis, has criticised the move saying "If the Government aren't going to use the $300 million put aside for child care wages, how can they possibly justify slashing another $100 million out of child care and out of the pockets of hard working Australian families?"

"It is easy to announce grand reviews but this Government has shown in record time what their true intentions for Australian child care - to cut funding and then cut some more."

"This move shows that not only are they hypocrites but they are not the Government that they said they'd be."
"When it comes to child care Tony Abbott takes with one hand, and then takes again with the other," Ms Ellis said.

This is an appalling and unjustified attack on the child care budget and indicates that the Abbott Government will set a record by making two cuts to the child care budget in just two weeks.

The Government must immediately confirm their intention to proceed with the EYQF or they should immediately abandon plans to swipe this $100 million from the pockets of hard working Australian families.


Wednesday, 27 November 2013

NBN Day of Action.

Media Release.

Tuesday, 26 November 2013 12:25

People across the country, including in Cairns and Townsville, are today stepping up to demand a fibre-to-the-premises National Broadband Network (NBN), delivering a petition to their local MPs doorstep.
Queensland Labor Senator Jan McLucas said the people of North Queensland deserve fast, affordable and reliable broadband.
"Fast, reliable and affordable broadband is critical for our future," Senator McLucas said.
"We all know the benefits it will bring to our economy, to schools and to our health system, especially in regional and remote communities, but the Abbott Government is ignoring the opportunities and is intent on leaving us with a second rate network.
"The National Day of Action is highlighting to the Abbott Government that people across the country want fibre-to-the-premises NBN.
"The Abbott Government's plan will mean people will be left using outdated copper or will have to pay up to $5,000 to have fibre connected to their home or business."

Visit for more information on the National Day of Action.

Statement: UN vote regarding Israeli settlement activity.

Statement: UN vote regarding Israeli settlement activity

 coats arms

Change in Australia’s Position on UN vote regarding  Israeli settlement activity in the occupied territories
Today, the Foreign Minister must personally explain why the Abbott Government has changed Australia’s position on a United Nations vote calling for a stop to Israeli settlement activities in the occupied territories.
This change is something that seems to have occurred with little or no consultation.
It’s also quite extraordinary that the Government would make such a change without reporting back to the Australian people about it.
Ongoing tension around settlements highlights the need to progress, as quickly as possible, the direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians to resolve outstanding final status issues.
The expansion of settlements outside areas that will clearly remain part of Israel under a territorial exchange agreement undermines the prospect of a lasting peace through a two state solution.
25 NOVEMBER 2013

November 26th, 2013 10:03 AM AEST
- See more at:

 coats arms


Change in Australia’s Position on UN vote regarding  Israeli settlement activity in the occupied territories

Today, the Foreign Minister must personally explain why the Abbott Government has changed Australia’s position on a United Nations vote calling for a stop to Israeli settlement activities in the occupied territories.
This change is something that seems to have occurred with little or no consultation.
It’s also quite extraordinary that the Government would make such a change without reporting back to the Australian people about it.
Ongoing tension around settlements highlights the need to progress, as quickly as possible, the direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians to resolve outstanding final status issues.
The expansion of settlements outside areas that will clearly remain part of Israel under a territorial exchange agreement undermines the prospect of a lasting peace through a two state solution.

25 NOVEMBER 2013

Statement: UN vote regarding Israeli settlement activity

 coats arms

Change in Australia’s Position on UN vote regarding  Israeli settlement activity in the occupied territories
Today, the Foreign Minister must personally explain why the Abbott Government has changed Australia’s position on a United Nations vote calling for a stop to Israeli settlement activities in the occupied territories.
This change is something that seems to have occurred with little or no consultation.
It’s also quite extraordinary that the Government would make such a change without reporting back to the Australian people about it.
Ongoing tension around settlements highlights the need to progress, as quickly as possible, the direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians to resolve outstanding final status issues.
The expansion of settlements outside areas that will clearly remain part of Israel under a territorial exchange agreement undermines the prospect of a lasting peace through a two state solution.
25 NOVEMBER 2013

November 26th, 2013 10:03 AM AEST
- See more at:

Statement: UN vote regarding Israeli settlement activity

 coats arms

Change in Australia’s Position on UN vote regarding  Israeli settlement activity in the occupied territories
Today, the Foreign Minister must personally explain why the Abbott Government has changed Australia’s position on a United Nations vote calling for a stop to Israeli settlement activities in the occupied territories.
This change is something that seems to have occurred with little or no consultation.
It’s also quite extraordinary that the Government would make such a change without reporting back to the Australian people about it.
Ongoing tension around settlements highlights the need to progress, as quickly as possible, the direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians to resolve outstanding final status issues.
The expansion of settlements outside areas that will clearly remain part of Israel under a territorial exchange agreement undermines the prospect of a lasting peace through a two state solution.
25 NOVEMBER 2013

November 26th, 2013 10:03 AM AEST
- See more at:

Clean Energy Finance Corp warns shutdown will hit budget.

Extract from ABC news website:

Updated 18 minutes ago
The Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) has warned that the Federal Government's plan to shut it down could cost the budget hundreds of millions of dollars.
The Corporation was set up by the previous government to invest up to $10 billion in renewable energy projects and to help attract private sector investment.
The Coalition wants to shut it down, but Labor and the Greens have vowed to use their numbers in the Senate to block the move.
CEFC chair Jillian Broadbent says the fund has so far invested $500 million, which will help cut greenhouse gas emissions.
She told a Senate hearing the fund's contribution could be very significant if it was allowed to invest the full $10 billion, while at the same time returning $200 million per annum to government coffers.
"This would contribute more than 50 per cent of the emissions abatement that's required for the bipartisan 2020 target," she said.
"And it would be done so with a $200 million per annum return to the taxpayer after having covered the operating costs."
Ms Broadbent, a former Reserve Bank board member, rejected the view of a Treasury official that the CEFC crowds out private investment and takes risk with public money.

"I certainly don't think there's been any crowding out in any of our investments that we have made," she said.
"In fact, there's been a crowding in, where we've had three international institutions who've participated in the market for the first time, encouraged by the fact that there was a government-owned entity there at the table and being a co-financier."
She went on to say that the Government's replacement direct action plan, in which companies and landholders bid for funding for emissions reduction projects, will have a net cost to the taxpayer.
"We're investing and trying to develop the market's appetite for participating in this field," she said.
"Grants have a very different role, and when you're investing, you're going to get the funds repaid and you're earning a return on your money.
"Making a grant is just a straight expense.
"There's a role for grants in emerging industries, but I really think the investment model of the Clean Energy Finance Corporation is a more fiscally responsible path to encourage the industry to be self-sufficient and wean itself off this government handout."
The finance that funds the CEFC's investment comes from public borrowing, but Ms Broadbent insisted that, given time, the taxpayer will see a return on the money.
"We're actually not a cost at all, but an earning, so every emission that we're achieving has a return to the government of $2.40, if it's consistent with our current portfolio ... it's very hard to compare a positive return with a cost," she said.

"I'm strongly of the view that the Clean Energy Finance Corporation is a fiscally responsible and effective way for catalysing private sector investment into emissions reduction."

Tuesday, 26 November 2013


Media release.

Mark Butler MP.

Date:  25 November 2013

Australian businesses have expressed alarm at Tony Abbott’s climate policy, questioning whether it will actually work and calling for more consultation and more certainty.

In a submission to the Government, the Australian Industry Group (AIG) said “there is a risk that the Emissions Reduction Fund does not deliver the abatement outcomes sought,” and that, “there is no equivalent to an emissions cap or other legal guarantee that the targets will be met.”

The AIG called on the Government to adopt a market mechanism, identifying it as the cheapest and most efficient way to drive down carbon pollution. The group said, “bureaucratic or political decision making are usually poor substitutes for the judgments of market actors responding to price in light of their own circumstances.”

The AIG also called on the Coalition to ensure Australia’s carbon pollution reduction effort is in line with other major economies, stating that consistent global action is fundamental to preserving Australian competitiveness.

Emissions trading schemes are already in place in the UK, Germany, France, Korea, and parts of Canada and the United States.

“Tony Abbott needs to come clean on his climate con and explain why he’s pursuing an approach that won’t reduce carbon pollution, but will cost business and households more,” Shadow Minister for Climate Change Mark Butler said."

“There is not one credible economist or expert who thinks Direct Action will work. Economists and climate scientists across the world are all agreed that an emissions trading scheme – a market-based mechanism with a legal cap on carbon pollution – is the cheapest and most effective way to reduce pollution and provide certainty for business."

“Now we see that the Ai Group, which represents more than 60,000 Australian businesses, is also wary of the cost impact of Tony Abbott’s climate con."

“Last week, Alan Kohler told us that Treasury had estimated the cost of Direct Action as costing the taxpayer $10 billion a year!"

“And today, we hear that just 12 per cent of Australian voters believe that Tony Abbott’s dud policy of paying polluters with taxpayer’s money will work.

“Tony Abbott’s policy has been exposed as a complete con.

“This is not the government they told Australian businesses and families they would be.”





25 November 2013

Arrogance and incompetence
This week the Abbott Government started as it means to go on with a performance in Senate Estimates that ranged from arrogant to contemptuous.
‘All we need to know’
The Leader of the Government in the Senate, Senator Abetz, kicked off proceedings on Monday by telling Senators on the Finance and Public Administration Committee he was only prepared to tell them about things they “need to know”.  It set the standard for the week.
Centralisation of power
Senator Abetz confirmed the all-powerful Government Staffing Committee exercised a veto power over all appointments, including within his own office.  At least Senator Abetz could identify the members of the committee, including the Prime Minister’s chief of staff.  Poor Senator Cash had no idea who they are, even though they had to approve her own staff appointments.
Senate Estimates also revealed the new code of conduct for ministerial staff which bans staff from “expressing personal views which relate to either their Minister’s portfolio area or the general work of the Australian Government.”  If staff need “guidance” they are required to consult the Prime Minister’s chief of staff.
Fortunately Mr Abbott’s chief of staff is well supported, with the Department of Finance revealing the Prime Minister’s Office has 58 staff, the most staff ever engaged by a Prime Minister.
Hungry and thirsty work
Apparently government is hungry and thirsty work for the Coalition.
With 58 staff, maybe it’s no surprise the Prime Minister’s chief of staff is personally negotiating the upgrade of the PMO’s kitchens.
What is more surprising is the $22,000 spent stocking crockery and cutlery in the ministerial wing, and new plans to refurbish the Prime Minister’s personal dining room.
And what’s food without art?  We learned the Prime Minister’s chief of staff has arranged for a $140,000 portrait of The Queen to be transferred from the collection of the National Museum of Australia to the Prime Minister’s Office.
Shelves shelved
Officials revealed that plans by Attorney-General, Senator Brandis, to relocate his oversized $7,000 bookcase, purpose-built to display his $13,000 book collection, for the second time, hit a snag with the curved walls of his new office.  To rub salt into the wounds, the Department of Finance has refused to pay for another bookcase to be built in Senator Brandis’ new suite.
Mr Hockey’s no-doc loan application
Treasury Secretary Martin Parkinson confirmed Australia’s debt requirements will not exceed $400 billion this financial year.  It’s time to release MYEFO, Joe.
Job cuts, and more to come
This week the Australian Tax Office announced plans to cut 900 jobs.
Labor Senators explored the operation of the Orwellian-sounding “Business Services Centre” in the Department of Health which is being set up to warehouse displaced staff, but few details were forthcoming.
The Finance Minister, Senator Cormann, walked away from the Abbott Government’s election commitment to cut 12,000 jobs from the public service by ‘natural attrition’ alone, blowing a further $5.2 billion hole in its election costings.  The Coalition also opened the door to more savage cuts to jobs and services by outsourcing its new budget problem to the Commission of Cuts.
Everything under review
Officials revealed that all spending decisions made by the former Government are under review. Health and education are not excluded from the review.
No boat buy-backs
The failure of a key Coalition policy was confirmed by Lieutenant General Angus Campbell who revealed no boats have been bought by new the Government and boat buy-backs were not supported by the Indonesian Government.
Contradiction without clarification
The Assistant Treasurer, Senator Sinodinos, confirmed a $15 million FIRB threshold would apply to all foreign bids for agricultural land under the Coalition’s new foreign investment regime.  That must have been news to the Treasurer, Mr Hockey, who only last month said the $15 million threshold applies to those countries that have not signed the free trade agreement with Australia, and therefore we deal with those cases on a case by case basis.”
Twenty-four hours later trade officials could shed no light on the contradiction, nor offer a clear statement of policy on the foreign investment rules.
Part-time NBN Co stalls broadband roll-out
After stalling the rollout the NBN Co revealed that the Coalition’s second-rate broadband won’t be fully rolling out until the end of 2014.
Maybe this is not much of a surprise – after all, NBN Co’s new CEO and Chair is only working three and a half days a week.
FOI is not a ball sport
Questioned on the decision to release Labor incoming government briefs, but not Coalition incoming government briefs, the Secretary of the Attorney-General’s Department said: “I think the last two times we played softball and now we’re playing hardball – seriously”.
Advice ignored
The Rural and Regional Affairs Committee heard that Infrastructure Minister, Mr Truss, ignored the advice of the independent Infrastructure Australia over upgrades to South Road in Adelaide, choosing a pet project instead.  Not a good start.
Surprise package for Australia Post
It was revealed Australia Post was encouraged by the Government to bid for Centrelink work through a submission to the Commission of Cuts.  Australia Post’s CEO was “surprised’ by the request.  Not as surprised as Centrelink staff and clients who weren’t told about the Coalition’s plans before the election.
DonateLife Week left in limbo
Among the many victims of the Government’s grant freeze are organisations planning to participate in DonateLife Week in February 2014.  This is the response Senator Cash provided when questioned about the delay to funding for this critical awareness-raising program:
There are a number of different processes being undertaken at the moment so there is no simple answer in terms of how the processes work, there are the broader whole of government approaches to things, there are those individual grants that are of a timely nature certainly the committee can be assured that those things that are of a timely nature will be attended to in a very, um, appropriate manner.
Cold comfort.
Sitting pretty
Fans of comfy couches can rest easy with the revelation that Prime Minister Howard’s green leather chesterfield lounge suite isn’t sitting neglected in the bowels of Parliament House – Mr Andrews inherited the suite six years ago and now it’s on the move to his ministerial digs.