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Daily Archives: August 21, 2008

16 August 2008 – New Scientist

20080816 Unfortunately you have to subscribe, buy, or go to the Library, but I do recommend you do one of those. 16 August 2008 Issue Contents – New Scientist is worth pondering, especially since it forestalls a lot of crap science coming your way very soon from the usual sources.

It also strongly commends Real Climate: Climate Science from Climate Scientists — blog in its cover story.

I also commend, since it is Science Week here in Australia, ABC Science.

 
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Posted by on August 21, 2008 in climate change, environment

 

ABC2 Live presents Keating! – ABC2 Television Guide

I don’t have digital TV, nor do I have enough broadband grunt or bandwidth for the alternative method, so ABC2 Live presents Keating! was not for me, more’s the pity. However, I did get to see it at The Belvoir: It’s Keating day… and Extraordinary kindness… 🙂

Oh yes!

 
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Posted by on August 21, 2008 in Australia, Australia and Australian, TV

 

National MP backs guest worker scheme: she is, and I am, so over Brendan Nelson…

Of course National MP Kay Hull doesn’t put it quite like that, being part of the Opposition herself. But she does say as strongly as possible that Dr Nelson is misguided.

Nationals MP Kay Hull has backed the government’s guest worker scheme to allow Pacific Island workers to pick fruit in Australia.

Under the three-year pilot scheme, 2,500 workers from Tonga, Vanuatu, Kiribati and Papua New Guinea will be given temporary work visas to help in agricultural industries.

Opposition Leader Brendan Nelson has criticised the idea saying unemployed Australians should do the work.

But Ms Hull, the federal member for the southern NSW seat of Riverina, says Dr Nelson is misguided.

She said farmers in her electorate were being forced to let their crops rot because there were not enough workers to pick the fruit.

“You simply cannot live in a city electorate and make these decisions without recognising the absolute dire circumstances that are existing in my electorate and other electorates,” Ms Hull told ABC Radio.

The desperate and dateless Nelson — who I have long suspected of taking the worst advice possible on a whole range of matters, a characteristic of him in both his portfolios under Howard — seems set on opposing for opposition’s sake. And he wonders why people get to hate politicians, though Kay Hull is proving an exception right now… (See also Jim Belshaw.)

As, in his own way, is Barnaby Joyce. The issue here is university “union” fees — which I posted about in 2005: USU Online – the University of Sydney Union Website and Student union fees bill passed – National – theage.com.au. As the downside of this ill-considered reform became apparent I posted again in 2007: It seemed a good idea at the time… This week we learn that the government plans to undo some of that reform. I really think this must be done.

THE Rudd Government is set to reintroduce compulsory fees for university students to reverse a decline in sporting and social services on campuses.

It is understood that an announcement is due next month on an “opt-out” system in which students will be able to choose which services their fees are spent on and whether they belong to the student union.

It will aim to redress what the Government says are the consequences of the Howard government wiping out compulsory student unionism in late 2005 and replacing it with voluntary student unionism.

The former government relied on the support of the Family First Senator Steve Fielding after the Nationals Barnaby Joyce crossed the Senate floor because he feared a decline in campus sport.

Senator Joyce, who met recently with the National Union of Students, told the Herald yesterday that he would vote with Labor again if he liked the legislation.

Sport, he said, had been “smacked” by VSU. “I haven’t changed my position. If it’s right, I will support it,” he said.

“You’ve got to have some capacity to cover sporting costs. A university is more than an academic institution.”

A report commissioned in February by the Youth Minister, Kate Ellis, and released recently, received more than 162 submissions, the majority of which “concluded that the abolition of upfront compulsory student union fees had impacted negatively on the provision of amenities and services to university students”.

For example, the University of Technology, Sydney, reported that compulsory student unionism used to raise $6.2 million a year for services. That had declined to $190,000 a year and the university had contributed another $500,000 from its operating budget.

To cope, it increased food prices by 15 per cent and reduced “funding and member numbers in sporting, recreational, cultural and social clubs”.

The Howard government offered about $80 million in transitional assistance but that runs out on June 30 next year.

Despite this, the report found most universities were having to supplement student services from funds budgeted for salaries, learning and research.

The Education Minister, Julia Gillard, has in recent days reinforced Labor’s election pledge that “there would not be a return to compulsory student unionism”.

But a Labor source said Ms Gillard was choosing her language carefully. Labor would not reintroduce compulsory student union membership but the fee that accompanied the membership and funded services.

“It’s like saying that you won’t pay taxes,” the source said of those opposed to having to pay a fee.

Before VSU, fees ranged from $100 to $600. Under the new system, yet to go before cabinet, fees would be at the lower end of the scale.

Under opt-out proposals, students could tick a box if they were unhappy with their fees being spent on any area in particular. There would be restrictions or bans on money being used for partisan politics but student advocacy would be funded.

The Opposition education spokesman, Tony Smith, was opposed to any change.

“We thought the legislation we passed was the right legislation. The former Howard government gave students choice,” he said.

The president of the National Union of Students, Angus McFarland, said the Government needed to pass the legislation in time for fees to be collected at the start of the academic year.

“Month after month, services keep degrading. It’s that urgent.”

Clearly I do not agree with all that Barnaby Joyce comes up with, but I really do think politics in this country needs more people prepared to say “If it’s right, I will support it.”

Perhaps Brendan Nelson might take note.

UPDATE

Govt denies compulsory student fee plan — ABC

…Federal Finance Minister Lindsay Tanner has told Fran Kelly on ABC’s Radio National that several options to make changes to the fee structure are still being considered.

But Mr Tanner says compulsory fees are not an option.

“We’ve indicated we’re not proposing to do something that’s compulsory but we are looking at ways to ensure that we can revive services on campuses, non-academic services that in many parts of Australia have been seriously eroded by the changes the Howard government has made,” he said.

“[The report] suggests that we are both going to do something that is compulsory but also [have] an opt out clause but it can’t be both, so I’m not quite sure of the logic of the position that’s being put.

“We’ve indicated that we’re not proposing to do something compulsory but we haven’t concluded those consultations and investigations of what the options are.”

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, who is in Niue for the Pacific Island’s Forum, says Labor’s policy is “clear cut” and was outlined before last year’s federal election.

Liberal Nationals Senator Barnaby Joyce crossed the floor to vote against the laws three years ago…

But they are clearly going to have to do something.