Inside the system

Richest schools among most over-funded

Some elite private schools are getting nearly three times their funding entitlement under the federal government’s Schools Resourcing Standard.

Loreto Kirribilli, a Catholic girls school near Sydney Harbour that charges over $18,000 per student in Year 12 is one of the biggest beneficiaries, receiving 283 per cent of its entitlement. Anglican school Radford College in the ACT receives 200 per cent, Melbourne Grammar, with fees of over $30,000 from year nine on receives 144 per cent and Brisbane Girls Grammar receives 150 per cent. These figures are based on funding for the 2014 school year.

The overpayments are a result of the Gillard Labor government’s decision to guarantee that no school would lose money under their new funding model based on the Gonski report. Private schools have been over-funded for years as a result of the funding policies of the Howard government. Liberal Education Minister Simon Birmingham recently pointed out the obvious, that some are “over-funded”. Astoundingly, Labor has rejected the charge and set itself up as the guardian of funding for private schools. The figures show how indefensible this is.

Trump profits from presidential tilt

Donald Trump has paid his own companies at least $8.2 million for work on his presidential campaign. An analysis by Politico of campaign finance filings shows Trump companies have been paid rent for campaign offices, food and venue hire costs and wages for Trump employees. In total 7 per cent of the campaign’s spending has gone to Trump companies so far.

He has used his campaign to promote everything from Trump steaks to his golf courses and a hotel. When Trump called a major press conference in September to address the “birther” conspiracy theory, which he fuelled from 2011 by demanding Barack Obama produce a birth certificate to prove he was born in the US, he turned it into an infomercial spruiking his new hotel.

Cable TV channels CNN, Fox News and MSNBC broadcast the press conference live for 20 minutes while Trump sang the praises of the new hotel hosting the press event. In 2000 Trump predicted that, “I could be the first presidential candidate to run and make money off it”.

PR firm paid millions for covert propaganda

The US military paid a British PR firm $700 million to run a covert propaganda operation in Iraq, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism has revealed. The company’s former chairman, Lord Tim Bell, confirmed the contract to the Sunday Times, saying, “It was a covert military operation. It was covered by various secrecy documents. We were very proud of it.”

The company even produced fake al Qaeda videos, with the aim of tracking the internet address of anyone who watched them, former worker Martin Wells claimed.

Up to 300 staff worked inside the US military base Camp Victory in Baghdad. Other products included scripts for Arabic soap operas and news bulletins made to look like they were produced by Arabic TV stations. Wells described his time with the company as, “shocking, eye-opening and life-changing.”

One in five bosses a psychopath

Think you’ve had a psychopathic boss? Researchers have found 21 per cent of bosses have clinically significant psychopathic traits. This is the same level found among prisoners. The figure is vastly higher than that in the general population of only around 1 per cent.

A forensic psychologist based on the Gold Coast, Nathan Brooks, together with Dr Katarina Fritzon of Bond University and the University of San Diego’s Dr Simon Croom, carried out the study as part of PhD research, examining 261 corporate professionals.

The $15 million ‘Toorak downsizer’

Property developer Mirvac is building a penthouse suite expected to fetch $15 million as the centrepiece of a new development in East Melbourne. Mirvac’s Susan Lloyd-Hurwitz said, “We expect the penthouse will be bought by a Melbourne local, someone from Toorak who is downsizing from their mansion”. The apartment includes a 301 square metre balcony, five bedrooms, and a 36-metre marble gallery space.

Anti-union staff join unionists to reject pay deal

Even staff at the anti-union Fair Work Building and Construction body have been insulted by the federal government’s pay offers to public servants. In late September they voted by 63 to 37 per cent to reject an enterprise bargaining deal. The body is the successor to the ABCC, and is now headed by anti-union crusader Nigel Hadgkiss.

More than 75 per cent of staff in the federal public service are yet to receive an acceptable offer. Some have now gone without a pay rise for three years.

As the CPSU’s deputy secretary Beth Vincent-Pietsch said, “this isn’t one where they can say there are large numbers of union members there, this is a union-busting agency still rejecting an offer made under the bargaining policy, so this one is really important.”

Australia steals more kids than anywhere in world

Australia has the highest rates of child removal in the Western world, a NSW parliamentary inquiry has heard.

Australia’s rate of 2272 children removed per million is nearly twice as high as the US with 1255 per million, and almost three times the rate in New Zealand of 840.

Mary Moore, of the Alliance for Family Preservation and Restoration, said the lack of regulation in child protection, “breeds an environment of incompetence, misconduct and corruption experienced daily by children and families”. There is one obvious reason the rates are so high. One in three children in out of home care are Aboriginal, yet they account for only 5 per cent of children in the population.

Things they say

I’m a very happy person
Turnbull isn’t convincing anyone after one year as Prime Minister

Turnbull has had his training wheels spinning for the last 12 months.
Jeff Kennett

I don’t think Malcolm has, is far removed from the conservative side as people think he is. He has great propensity to listen and to act and we’ve seen that regarding things like Safe Schools, the plebiscite. We have seen that with the superannuation thing.
Right-wing Coalition MP George Christensen

People are paid whatever the market determines they’re worth.
Channel 9 spokeswoman after news Erin Molan was paid 1/8 of her male counterpart to co-host the NRL Footy Show and flies economy, while the three male co-hosts fly business.

I will miss my friends and colleagues terribly—our Saturday morning chats, our Sunday night plane trips, our Wednesday night dinners.
Stephen Conroy explaining the difficult life of a politician

It was her maiden speech and I offered her goodwill as I do every other person in the chamber when they give their maiden speech.
Turnbull’s Minister for Women, Michaelia Cash, explaining her hugging Pauline Hanson after her speech attacking women over the family law.

Women play a significantly greater part of fulfilling the caring role in our communities which inevitably place some limits on their capacity
John Howard on why he thinks it ok for there to be more men than women in politics

I will be hoping that that 50 per cent [of the electorate vote] to the Right will go to me.
Christine Forster, Liberal mayoral candidate for the City of Sydney Council (and Tony Abbott’s sister). She lost with less than 20 per cent of the vote


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