We are about to embark on the final parliamentary sitting week of the year, and it promises to be ugly. Speaker Anna Burke will earn her money.
The complete collapse of the Government’s measures to discourage boats loaded with asylum seekers from reaching our shores has the Coalition even more fired up than usual.
Julia Gillard no longer seems to have any defence against the charge that Labor opened our borders to people smugglers when it dismantled the Howard government’s policies.
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He turned up on the stage of the Sydney Convention Centre yesterday looking like he was outfitted by a tailor legally barred from using the endorsement “bespoke”, and with a hairdo a trainee mate might have tended to.
He had started on the shop floor unencumbered by a university degree, and yet there he was prepared to give advice to political queens and business emperors.
He was available to help shape a $1.5 trillion economy when at his peak earning years he might have taken in just a bit over $90,000 annually.
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Diagnosing the pathology in the Federal Labor Government has become something of a national pastime. The commentariat, practitioners and pundits have all had a go trying to work out why an otherwise healthy government languishes so far in the polls and seems to have such difficulty engaging with the electorate.
We hear many analyses. Some blame party factionalism. Some blame the killer instinct with which KRudd was removed from the Prime Ministership. Perhaps we are not seeing the “real” Julia. Maybe the government lacks a “narrative”.
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The cleaners at The Lodge don’t appear to be mopping the PM’s political blood up off the floor this morning, following her butcher’s-paper-and-textas meeting yesterday and BBQ last night. But the leadership murmurings about Gillard and Rudd continue to sizzle on the hotplate.
Australians have witnessed plenty of leadership knifings over the past 20 years. Rudd by Gillard. Hawke by Keating. Rees by Keneally… It’s become so normal it wouldn’t be surprising if primary school prefects started knifing their school captains in the pursuit of absolute student representative council power.
But you’ve got to wonder why Labor hasn’t learnt its lesson about leadership challenges by now. I mean, if we can take away anything from recent intra-party political crapfights, it’s that someone knifing the head of the government and taking their place doesn’t do much to help parties stay in power in the long-term.
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The Gillard Government has taken the middle road in making changes to the national school chaplaincy program; $222 million has been committed to extend the program until 2014. But now schools can elect to have non-religious person fill the role as a secular worker and still use the $20,000 grant scheme.
Chaplains have really become budget student counsellors under the program. Since 2006, it has been rolled out to 2681 schools, 28 per cent are public schools. While the school applies for a chaplain to DEEWR, the funding is administered to a third party employer, in most cases a Christian organisation like Access Ministries who then engage a person to be a chaplain at the school.
Chaplains have a set of guidelines from the Government which prohibit proselytising, which they adhere to by signing a code of conduct.
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Over recent years, Australia has doubled its financial commitment to foreign aid.
Yet our aid program has remained starved of attention from the government, media and community at large.
On Tuesday, Kevin Rudd sought to rectify this by announcing a five-month independent review of the effectiveness of Australia aid.