NSW Labor’s Foley spruiks TAFE plan

NSW Opposition Leader Luke Foley has kicked off the final week of campaigning by talking up Labor’s $100 million plan to “rescue” the state’s TAFE system.


He spent Monday morning in Loftus, in the southern Sydney seat of Heathcote, where he said the “most obscene” TAFE course fee increase under the coalition government was an air-conditioning diploma that went from $104 to $7280.

“At a time of double-digit youth unemployment, we should be investing in vocational education, not cutting it,” Mr Foley said.

“When there’s a quarter of a million people unemployed in this state, the Liberals’ assault on our TAFE system is a crime against our young people.”

Labor has promised to reverse fee hikes, give TAFE a guaranteed minimum 70 per cent share of the state’s vocational funding, and launch a review of the state’s education and training options for young people past Year 10.

Mr Foley appeared alongside design student Bree Armson-Graham, who said uncertainty about fees had left her considering dropping out.

Reshuffles to her course structure also meant she had been forced to skip certain classes and she was now falling behind, she said.

“It’s really hard when I have to go home and watch something on YouTube to teach myself when I really should have learned it in class,” she said.

“And I still don’t know what I’m going to be paying.”

Mr Foley did not appear disheartened by the most recent opinion polls, which predict a win for Baird government candidates in three key seats – The Entrance, Campbelltown and Coogee.

He promised to campaign relentlessly until Saturday.

“There’s five million people yet to cast their vote. I’ll be talking to the people of this state this week,” he said.

The opposition leader’s next stop is Rockdale, where he’s expected to hit the streets and mingle with locals.

Read More

Halep battles back to claim Indian Wells crown

Serbian Jankovic was serving for the title at 5-4 in the second set but world number three Halep won the next three games and battled back for the biggest title of her career.


“I don’t know how I won today because I didn’t play my best,” Halep said. “I didn’t play good tennis, but I just wanted to fight till the end.

“I just had the confidence that I have my chance here in this tournament, and I just did everything to get it. I got it, and I’m really happy.”

The tense encounter had both players making plenty of mistakes but 23-year-old Halep displayed determination to secure her third title of the year following Shenzhen and Dubai.

The 30-year-old Jankovic, who had a testy exchange with her coach, showed clear signs of nerves when she had the title within her grasp in the second set and tired badly in the third.

Halep had a bye before the final after world number one Serena Williams withdrew from their semi-final with injury but the Romanian initially struggled.

Jankovic, who won at Indian Wells in 2010, dominated the first set, playing with freedom and fire but became tense within reach of victory.

She broke to 3-1 and 5-4 to serve for the match but was broken back on both occasions, the Romanian fighting for every point before finally closing out the 63-minute set.

Both players struggled on serve in the third but Halep catured the decisive break at 5-4 to secure her 11th WTA title.

“I think at the end of the second set I got a little bit nervous,” Jankovic said. “I got a little bit tentative, and that was my big mistake. I let her come back into the match.

“I kind of let those nerves take the best out of me. That shouldn’t happen.”

(Reporting by Simon Evans; Editing by Gene Cherry and Ian Ransom)

Read More

Aboriginal protest over Redfern development plan

(Transcript from World News Radio)

It’s a development that promises affordable housing for Aboriginal people but its critics say it’s never going to come to fruition.


The Aboriginal Housing Company in Sydney’s Redfern is trying to get finance for the $60 million Pemulwuy Project which would see the construction of a retail and housing development, including 62 affordable housing units for Indigenous people at the area known as The Block.

But as the financial negotiations continue so too does a stand off at the proposed construction site which members of an Aboriginal Tent Embassy continue to occupy.

They’ve been demanding that the project is re-designed to make the affordable housing component the first priority.

Greg Dyett reports.

(Click on audio tab to listen to this item)

“So we want people to say oh, you’re going to Redfern, hey come to the place, The Block is the place and we know Aboriginal people live here, this is the main watering hole. It’s going to change history with the new development called Pemulwuy.”

That’s the Chief Executive of the Aboriginal Housing Company, Michael Mundine, talking up the Pemulwuy Project in a promotional video.

As you know, if you haven’t got a decent house, a roof over your head, how can you expect the parents to send their kids to school. Housing is so important for health, so the Aboriginal Housing Company is providing good, affordable housing.”

Protesters from the Aboriginal Tent Embassy don’t believe the Aboriginal Housing Company will make good on that commitment.

Among them is Aunty Jenny Munro.

“I don’t think the housing company or the developer has any intention of building the 62 houses for our community. The fact that there are only 62 houses, the fact that the housing design is only three and four bedrooms, the fact that the CEO Mundine (Michael Mundine) has already said any Aboriginal people with a criminal record won’t be housed really rings the death knell on the black community there at Redfern.”

Jenny Munro says the project needs to be re-designed to prioritise the housing component.

“The Pemulwuy project as approved has got shops first, then student accommodation second and then houses for our people but no funding for houses so I really can’t see how anybody can describe that part of the project as viable when there’s no funds for houses.”

Aboriginal Housing Company chief executive Michael Mundine says it’s time for changes and time for Aboriginal people to get out of their welfare mentality.

Mr Mundine says the protesters who’ve been occupying the site have a broader agenda.

He says what they really want is his removal as CEO.

“They want to take over the organisation and now they’re using me as a scapegoat I really believe. You know they’re crucifying me and I’m just here doing my job. It’s just a personal thing between me and her (Jenny Munro), mate and I don’t know what I’ve done to these people.”

Michael Mundine says the commercial developer that’s partnering with the Aboriginal Housing Company to build stage one is being contracted to provide a service and it’s the housing company itself that’s developing the Pemulwuy Project.

He says the development application was approved in December 2012.

“The Aboriginal Housing Company, we are the developer. Shouldn’t people be proud that the Aboriginal Housing Company is the developer and we own everything ourselves, we get no government funding. (Reporter) You are the developer, you’re saying (Mundine) We are the developer, DeiCorp only signed a contract for design and construction, we are the developer.”

Michael Mundine says the affordable housing will be built and construction of stage one will start this year.

He says the Aboriginal Housing Company is still trying to secure finance from a range of sources.

“We’re still negotiating with one of the major banks for the commercial, okay, but as you know we believe that the government should give us money toward affordable housing but at the present moment I don’t think we’ll be getting money from them. We’ve just got to, we’re still out there just negotiating. (Reporter) Have you got enough money to start constructing anything as yet? (Mundine) Well, as I’m saying, we’re still negotiating with the bank, we’ve got a discussion paper going, it’s looking pretty good so, you know, we will be starting this year.”



Read More

Franklin, Jack fit for AFL rd 1: Swans

Sydney star forward Lance Franklin and co-captain Kieren Jack will both be fit for the AFL opening round despite injuries which had them taken to hospital, says Swans general manager Tom Harley.


Franklin sustained a heavy concussion when knocked unconscious in a collision with teammate Gary Rohan just minutes into the Swans’ pre-season win over Greater Western in Canberra on Sunday.

Jack suffered an abdominal injury and was taken to hospital along with Franklin, who was also cleared of any cheekbone fracture.

Harley said on Monday both 2014 Coleman Medallist Franklin and Jack would be fit to play in the Swans’ campaign opener against Essendon on April 4.

“Buddy’s good. He went to hospital purely for precautionary reasons,” Harley said.

“He had a good night’s sleep. It is a heavy concussion but he’ll be fine.

“There’s no facial injuries whatsoever. It’s standard concussion… not having a game this week he’ll have plenty of time to recover and be ready for round one.”

Jack, who suffered his injury in a rolling tackle with Giants forward Devon Smith, will also have enough time to recover in time for the opening round.

“Kieren’s was a knock to the oblique. He has some bleeding through there,” Harley said.

“He’ll be sore but he’s had a flawless pre-season so we don’t expect anything to put him off course and expect him to get up for round one as well.

“You don’t expect to have two hospital visits… But we got through that and Lance and Kieren will rest up and will be fine to go.”

Key forward Kurt Tippett, who was ruled out of the AFL pre-season after suffering a lower leg injury in an intraclub game early this month, remains on track to be fit in time for round one.

“He’s tracking as planned. He’s ramped up his running,” Harley said.

“There haven’t been any hiccups to suggest he won’t be ready for round one.”

Jarrad McVeigh (minor calf strain) and Ben McGlynn (hip), who both had a limited pre-season, are also set to be available for the Essendon opener.

Read More

Lazarus quits PUP to become Independent

(Transcript from World News Radio)

Clive Palmer’s grip on political power has all but disintegrated after the surprise resignation of PUP Senator Glen Lazarus from the party to join the ranks of Independent Senators.


The resignation leaves just one Palmer United Party Senator, Dio Wang, on the crossbench and means Mr Palmer’s ability to shape legislation in the upper house is gone.

But as Amanda Cavill reports while Senator Lazarus’ defection strips Mr Palmer of any real power it doesn’t necessarily make things easier for the Government who has to now deal with an even more fractured Senate.

(Click on audio tab to listen to this item)

Describing it as a difficult decision, Glen Lazarus thanked party leader Clive Palmer for the opportunity to have been involved with PUP and has wished him the best for the future.

But the former rugby league international has hinted at a fractured party room, saying he has a different view of how teamwork operates to his other colleagues.

He’s told 2GB he’s made the right decision.

“Look I just felt that in order to be able to serve the people of Queensland and to do my job like I played footy. I just wanted to do the best job I could. And I felt that if I could do the best I didn’t dissappoint myself or the other people who were team mates or I guess fans. And I just felt I had to resign and move forward as a Senator.”

PUP is now left with just two federal representatives – Mr Palmer in the lower house and Senator Dio Wang.

Clive Palmer says Senator Glenn Lazarus dumped him by text message.

It’s since been revealed the party had sacked Senator Lazarus’ wife Tess just hours before the resignation.

Mr Palmer has told Fairfax Radio the former rugby league international had been angered by his wife’s dismissal.

“It’s true that Glenn Lazarus has spat the dummy * and as Peter Bourke** says in his announcement, he did that a couple of hours after Peter Bourke had terminated his wife’s employment with the party for reasons best known to them but, you know, that’s not what it’s about, it’s about ideas and protecting the people of Australia.”

Mr Palmer has denied his party was a spent political force, saying observers need only look back at its history for evidence of that.

He says it took the Greens 30 years to win a seat in parliament and he won one just six weeks after nominating.

Opposition leader Bill Shorten says while there are clearly a few problems in the PUP camp it’s too early to write Clive Palmer off as a power broker.

“There certainly seems trouble at the Palmer mill, doesn’t there? I deal with Glenn Lazarus, Dio Wang, the Palmer affiliated senators. They are people of conscience. I don’t know what happened there. We will deal with the senators on the issues rather than necessarily every twist and turn of the Clive Palmer show. Clive Palmer is still in Parliament. Anyone who counts him out is premature. What we want is for the Senate to support good laws and a better future for Australia.”

The defection comes at a critical time for the Government with just two sitting weeks left to get important legislation through the Senate before it hands down its second budget.

It means the government now has to negotiate separately with all eight Senate crossbenchers, in order to get six of them on side to pass legislation.

In the next two weeks the Government is hoping to have its higher education reforms passed, as well as its controversial Data Retention Bill.

While the latter is likely to pass, the former does not yet have crossbench support.

The leader of the Government in the Senate, Eric Abetz, says he’ll happily work with Senator Lazarus.

But Senator Abetz admits the task of garnering crossbench support just got harder.

“Glenn Lazarus has made his decision for his own reasons and as a government we respect that. As a government, we will always work with the cross-bench Senators on the basis of individual Senators, if that is the way they want to be treated, or as party grouping, so from our point of view it’s business as usual other than, of course, we now have to make eight representations to the cross-benchers as opposed to seven.”

Prime Minister Tony Abbott says the challenge for the government is the same as it was before, and that is to talk in good faith to all Senate crossbenchers.

He says the government only has to deal with the crossbench because Labor and the Greens take what he calls a feral attitude to the coalition’s legislation.



Read More