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September, 2019

OUR SAY: Christopher Pyne fails over higher education reform

THE rejection of the Coalition’s higher education bill by the Senate on Tuesday night should now prompt all parties to use the Christmas recess to do their homework in an area of public policy Australia cannot afford to get wrong.
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A centrepiece of the shambolic Hockey budget, the deregulation of tertiary education, which was to include raising fees, raising the cost of student loans and cutting funding to universities, is not just a matter for federal Education Minister Christopher Pyne to revisit.

The Opposition and the universities need to reconsider the current state of higher education and what students and institutions need for a viable education sector in the future.

Mr Pyne needs to drop the Churchillian bluster and talk sensibly with the Opposition, cross bench MPs and, above all, the public about what needs to be done. His second crack at the legislation, tabled yesterday, is a big improvement on the regressive and punitive policy the Senate tore up, but it is not there yet.

Sticking with the existing student loan scheme is a good start, as is a funding package to help universities transition to the competitive model he says is inevitable. But is it?

Faced with a huge cut in funding, most university vice-chancellors have supported the transition to a US style model if more help is offered.

They are petrified their funds will dry up, followed quickly by their research programs and then their academic standards and international standing.

That would certainly be the case if federal funding was cut by the intended 20 per cent and nothing replaced it.

If Labor wants to preserve a regulated system where fees are controlled and more Australian students are enroled it needs to present a viable alternative. Many universities, including vocationally focused regional institutions like Charles Sturt University, might take a different view of Mr Pyne’s model if they were presented with a real choice.

University students and their families dodged a bullet on Tuesday night. They expect the universities and their elected representatives to be far better prepared when parliament resumes in 2015.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

ALP: Power privatisation would hurt health, education funding

NSW Opposition Leader John Robertson at John Hunter Hospital on Wednesday. Picture: Phil HearneTHE GOVERNMENT’S plan to privatise the state’s electricity network will mean less money for hospitals, schools and TAFEs in the Hunter, Labor politicians claimed on Wednesday.
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Opposition Leader John Robertson, Newcastle MP Tim Crakanthorp and member for Charlestown Jodie Harrison spoke with nurses at John Hunter Hospital while on a tour around the region.

They said the nurses were “fearful of further budget cuts if electricity is privatised”.

Mr Robertson said that electricity privatisation would be disastrous for the Hunter.

He said that last year the electricity companies paid $1.7 billion to the Baird Government in dividends and other tax-equivalent payments.

Mr Robertson said this revenue stream would be permanently lost once electricity was privatised.

Newcastle MP Tim Crakanthorp said: “Our residents will be stuck paying higher electricity prices – while even more money is sucked from local hospitals and schools.”

Charlestown MP Jodie Harrison agreed.

“With the Abbott Government already cutting $25 billion from NSW hospitals and schools, it is severely misguided for the Premier to be killing off crucial revenue that comes to the budget from the electricity companies,” she said.

“Hunter hospitals like John Hunter, Calvary Mater and Belmont are already overstretched, while local TAFEs are slashing courses and staff.

“I understand the Premier will be addressing a business lunch in Newcastle tomorrow.

“My message to him is that services in the Hunter cannot afford more cuts.”

Health Minister Jillian Skinner rejected the concerns voiced by the Labor MPs.

“This is mere politicking by Labor – they continue to put politics before patients,” she said.

“I can assure the community there is no $3 billion cut to health – this is a Labor fabrication.

“This year’s recurrent health budget is $18.7 billion – a 5.2 per cent increase on last year.

“Labor’s last health budget was $15.5 billion.”

Protesting inequities worthwhile

MARIE Gill (Adv, Nov 27) is quite correct when she states that Australians have it better than most people in the world and she is also correct when she says that we all have to help pay for our comparatively high standard of living.
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Few people will argue with these sentiments. However, what people are complaining and protesting about are the injustices of the policies of the Abbott government, their seemingly focused push to increase inequity in our society by enabling the wealthy to become richer and forcing those struggling to become poorer.

Marie may like to call pensioners, the unemployed, the young, the sick, those seeking a better education and all their supporters, whiners and whingers but if the Abbott government’s policies mean that these people lose entitlements and services when the wealthy don’t then clearly they have good reason to complain and protest.

STEVE INGHAM

Wynyard

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Diesel spill chokes up Albion Park creek

EPA and local business reps, along with Illawarra firefighters inspect Albion Creek. Picture: ROBERT PEETA leak of diesel choked up to 200 metres of an Albion Park creek on Tuesday night, with fears it could have entered Lake Illawarra.
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Fire and Rescue NSW crews worked to contain what was believed to be a diesel spill into Albion Creek, just off the Princes Highway at Albion Park Rail.

‘‘FRNSW crews putting booms in Albion Creek to contain a diesel spill. Another boom in place at Lake Illawarra,’’ Fire and Rescue NSW posted on Twitter at 8.45pm.

FRNSW Inspector Brendan Cox confirmed the incident, near Creole Place.

‘‘They said it covered about 200 metres,’’ Insp Cox said on Wednesday.

‘‘The Environmental Protection Authority and our crews are going back [on Wednesday] to look again.’’

The EPA is now investigating the incident, after investigators ‘‘observed odours and an oily sheen on the water.’’

‘‘Water samples have been taken by EPA to help determine the nature of the pollution. Clean up actions are being progressed,’’ an EPA spokesperson said in a statement.

‘‘The exact source has not yet been identified but it appears the pollution may have come from a nearby light industrial/commercial area.

”The EPA will work with Shellharbour City Council in investigating the cause of the incident to try and determine the source of the pollution and the necessary measures to prevent a recurrence.’’

Mechanics, car yards, a fuel distributor and a petrol station are all in the immediate vicinity of the spill.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Achieving dreams

AMBER Rosebottom never dreamt she would finish high school. But now the young mother of two has her sights set on an even higher goal.
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Amber, 22, this year completed Year 12 at Mildura Senior College and is anxiously awaiting her Australian Tertiary Admission Rank to gain university entry.

And even though the results won’t be released until later this month, Amber has already achieved something no one has before.

LEFT: Mildura woman Amber Rosebottom with her son Cayden. Amber is the first woman to finish Year 12 through Zoe Support.

She became the first woman to complete Year 12 through Zoe Support, a not-for-profit organisation which provides help for young or otherwise

unsupported mothers.

“I feel honoured,” she said. “It’s awesome to have done it.”

Amber left school at 15, fell pregnant and, without the support of her family, said Zoe Support had helped her “in every way” after the birth of her daughter Skyla, 4, and Cayden, 2.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.