Axe to fall on school funds deal

The Australian

The Gillard government is set to scrap a special school funding deal struck during the Howard years that provides half of the nation's private schools with more money than they are entitled to. In the clearest indication yet that the days of the current funding system are numbered, Schools Education Minister Peter Garrett has revealed the arrangement that maintains funding for about 60 per cent of Catholic schools had "reached its use-by-date". Mr Garrett's comments follow a briefing by the head of the school funding review, businessman David Gonski, to education ministers about a week ago that funding maintenance was a historic anomaly that had to be corrected.

Doubts raised over AWU membership numbers

The bulk of the Australian Workers Union's (AWU) new members are non-financial, raising doubts about its leader's claims that under his leadership, the union has been Australia's fastest-growing. An analysis by The Age newspaper today showed the bulk of new members under the three-year leadership of national secretary Paul Howes are non-financial. In February, he told the AWU national conference that membership had grown by nearly 30,000 since he inherited the leadership from Assistant Treasurer Bill Shorten.

Labor turns back to temporary visas to deal with rioters

The Australian

The Gillard government will use de facto temporary protection visas to punish detention-centre troublemakers, in a dramatic retreat to Howard-era immigration policies. After weeks of violent protests in which some detention centre buildings were burned to the ground, Immigration Minister Chris Bowen yesterday announced a tougher character test that would prevent asylum-seekers who had committed offences from gaining permanent protection in Australia. He vowed not to reintroduce TPVs, but the government will use other visa classes to achieve the same effect.

Without a voice, violence breaks the silence


The violence that has engulfed the Villawood detention centre in the past week raises a threshold question – can a violent reaction by some asylum seekers to the regime under which they are detained be justified? By ‘justified’ we mean ‘understood’ or ‘placed in context’ as opposed to condoning breaking of laws passed by a parliament in a democracy. Is the violence at Villawood a case where radical and some would argue anti-democratic action is justified in the sense that its occurrence sends a clear signal to our democracy that there is something deeply wrong with the system which spawned the violence?

Botox at 8 years old


Getting a spray tan is a bit like getting a pap smear – you reeeally don't want to, but you tell yourself it will all be over soon enough and the chances of running into the person performing the procedure at your local supermarket are highly unlikely. I also tend to take what I call the ‘ostrich approach’ – if I close my eyes, I can pretend I’m somewhere else, like a pitch-black room being eaten alive by spiders, or something else that would be much nicer than having a cold, smelly, brown mist sprayed over my naked, freezing body. At 35, I have succumbed to enough so-called beauty procedures/myths to know waxing, shaving, preening, tinting, hair-dying, teeth-whitening and all the other forms of torture are just an extension of the superficial bullshit we tolerate, if not perpetuate, in the hopes of being ‘acceptable’.

Activists appeal ruling of gay judge


Backers of California's ban on same-sex marriage have moved to wipe out a court ruling last year that declared Proposition 8 unconstitutional, saying the federal judge who heard the case should have stepped aside because he has been in a long-term same-sex relationship. Proposition 8 was a ballot proposition and constitutional amendment passed in the November 2008 state elections that said only marriage between a man and a woman is recognised in California. Its supporters argue in court papers that the former chief US district judge Vaughn Walker had a presumed bias in the case because he could have benefited from gaining the legal right to marry his partner.