School chaplains at up to 1000 extra schools will receive $222 million more despite a High Court challenge to the program on constitutional grounds. God was a winner in the schools budget but the ''education revolution'' of the former prime minister Kevin Rudd took a hit - trade training centres promised to secondary schools face delays and the $2.4 billion digital education revolution program has suffered cuts.
Aspirational families will be recruited by Wayne Swan to help return the Budget to surplus - by gouging $1.2 billion out of family tax payments. In a major redistribution of wealth, the Treasurer will freeze indexation of family tax benefits, the baby bonus and the paid parental leave scheme for four years for families on $150,000 or more a year. While the Government claims it would affect only 40,000 households in the first year, that will rise to hundreds of thousands. The hit on middle-class welfare, part of a $22 billion cut to spending, will be hardest felt by those described by economists as being in "mortgage poverty"and who live in Sydney's west.
Foreign aid was boosted by almost half a billion dollars in yesterday's budget, nearly a quarter of which will flow to Indonesia. Overseas development assistance increased from 0.33 per cent of gross national income to 0.35 per cent, or $4.84 billion over this financial year. The Government also recommitted to an aid budget of 0.5per cent by 2015-16, effectively doubling Australia's total aid spend. The aid budget is expected to be increased to 0.38 per cent of GNI in next year's budget, 0.42 per cent in 2013-14, and 0.46per cent in 2014-15.
It was billed as a tough budget but the document Wayne Swan brought down tonight will win no awards for bravery and lead to no riots on the streets. Was this Wayne's instrument of preference in reining in spending? There are $22 billion of savings in the budget - Swan’s fourth as Treasurer and Julia Gillard’s first as Prime Minister – and they include the $1.7 billion flood and cyclone levy which clobbers higher income earners over the next two years.
As Queensland's first child born under the state's surrogacy laws, Connor Harris's arrival was a moment of unbridled happiness for proud parents Bentley and Matt Harris. For his biological mother "Rosie" (not her real name), there has been nothing but heartache and regret since that historic day last May 11 when she gave him up. "As soon as the baby was born it all changed," the married friend of the couple said.
A mother's torment at handing her biological baby over to a gay couple has highlighted the pitfalls of surrogacy without psychological counselling, experts say. The woman, dubbed "Rosie" to protect her identity, conceived the boy using sperm from one of the men, after agreeing to be a surrogate, but is struggling to cope after relinquishing the child to the couple, Bentley and Matt Harris. Connor Harris turns one today.
The global refugee crisis is overwhelming. According to the United Nations, there are 20 million refugees displaced from their homelands mainly because of war or persecution. Millions live in squalid conditions waiting for their claims to be processed by the hopelessly under-resourced United Nations High Commission for Refugees. For the past five years, Australia has accepted just 13,000-14,000 refugees per year. We can do better.
The Centre for Social Justice gave the British government’s a score of just two out of 10 for its efforts to reverse high and damaging levels of family breakdown. Its new report has been published to coincide with the first anniversary of the formation of the Coalition. It says that pre-election promises by Prime Minister David Cameron to reinstate a tax break for marriage have “moved off the radar” as a result of deals done with the Liberal Democrats. “Some of the vital measures committed to by the Conservative Party in opposition appear to have been watered down during Coalition negotiations,” the report says.
As the Egyptian government moves to strengthen security around places of worship in the Australian Coptic Christian community fears are rising for friends and relatives overseas. In particular there are concerns for the safety of women. One social worker says she fears Coptic women are now the targets of sectarian violence. The Australian Coptic Bishop of Melbourne says he's raised the safety of his community with the Prime Minister Julia Gillard. The Egyptian ambassador says there is a "Coptic problem" in Egypt and the Copts have legitimate concerns.
Despite the pressure traditionally put on unregistered "house churches," clergy from dozens of these churches are petitioning China's legislature to guarantee the religious freedom of Shouwang Church. Many of the church's members were arrested last month while trying to hold worship services outside. The petition is the first of its kind in 60 years of communist rule of China, states persecution watchdog China Aid Association. Autumn Rain Church, a signatory church located in Chengdu, said of the petition in a Sunday newsletter, "Starting tomorrow, May 9, the church will pray and fast for three days for this first peaceful petition by Chinese house churches in 60 years."
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