Tasmania signs up to schools funding deal

Tasmanian Premier Lara Giddings is expected to sign up to the schools funding plan on Tuesday afternoon. Photo: Scott GelstonTasmania is signing up to the federal government’s school funding overhaul, making it the first state to do so after the Labor leadership change disrupted negotiations.

Tasmania becomes the fourth jurisdiction to get on board after NSW, the ACT and South Australia signed up to the so-called Gonski reforms championed by then prime minister Julia Gillard.

A statement issued by the Rudd government says the deal is worth an extra $380 million in combined federal and state funding over the next six years.

The government had previously touted its plan as delivering about $400 million for Tasmanian schools over this period.

Of this, government schools were to get a boost of about $230 million, Catholic schools $110 million and independent schools $60 million.

Labor Premier Lara Giddings said she had negotiated the funding deal to ensure Tasmania directed a greater share of extra funds to state schools in the early part of the agreement rather than to Catholic and independent schools.

But Ms Giddings insisted students would not notice the difference.

She said Tasmania had also secured an assurance from the federal government would not jeopardise the share of GST funds flowing to the state.

The federal government has committed to increase its school education funding by 4.7 per cent each year, while Tasmania will grow its base funding by 3 per cent in 2016 and each year afterwards.

The Tasmanian government will also introduce a new school funding model for government schools called the Fairer Funding Model ‘‘to ensure resources are targeted to where they are needed most’’.

Despite criticism by the federal opposition about the lack of a national agreement, the government says Tasmania’s decision means 63 per cent of Australian school students will receive increased funding from next year.

The new funding system applies to non-government schools around Australia, as well as to government schools in jurisdictions that have signed up.

At a media conference in Hobart, new Federal Education Minister Bill Shorten said the commonwealth would provide $250 million and the Tasmanian government $130 million as part of the six-year deal.

Mr Shorten said the agreement should “breathe new life” into negotiations with other states and he was “not prepared to give up”.

“I’m optimistic that there is still progress to be made in other jurisdictions,” he said.

Mr Shorten refused to say whether the new deadline of this Sunday could be extended again, arguing that if he started speculating about it everyone could change their timeframes.

“I think Australians work well with deadlines,” he said.

The rebadged Better Schools reforms would see a base level of funding allocated for each school student, to be topped up with ”loadings” targeting disadvantage, from next year.

The federal government has argued the reforms would see an extra $15 billion in combined state and federal money flow into schools around the nation over the next six years.

But the federal opposition has disputed these figures and described the process as a shambles. It has proposed a year-long extension of the existing funding system and vowed to repeal the reforms if the overwhelming majority of states have not signed up.

While Mr Shorten insisted the Better Schools plan should be above politics, he seized on uncertainty over what would happen if the Coalition won the federal election.

“If you don’t want to risk funding for your child’s education, there’s a single answer, to support the government,” he said

The federal government will now turn its efforts to the Coalition-run state of Victoria ahead of the extended Sunday deadline for further deals.

Western Australia, the Northern Territory and Queensland are also yet to sign up and have voiced strong opposition to elements of the proposed reforms.

While WA is still talking to the federal government, a deal is considered unlikely.

Queensland Premier Campbell Newman remains away on leave.

But Mr Shorten and his department are in regular ”positive” talks with Victoria.

Earlier on Tuesday, Mr Shorten vowed to respect ”the other people in the negotiation and also the desire of parents to see their kids get a good start”.

”The Victorian government has got a view though about how the funding should work and we’ve got to agree on what the numbers actually are,” Mr Shorten told ABC Radio.

”You know, they look at the data and draw one conclusion; we look at the data and draw another.  So it is important that in a negotiation that we have the same set of facts.”

Mr Shorten said he was hopeful of striking a deal with Victoria soon.

”It’s school holidays, it would be good to see if we could have something to tell parents and kids when they return back from school holidays,” he said.

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The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.

Arrest threat as tenant flees noise

A noise battle between two landlords could see them both in court and one tenant under arrest after her constant noise drove her downstairs neighbour out of her home.

“I have a very good tenant. However, because of unresolved noise issues with the tenant in the apartment above, she doesn’t want to renew her lease,” reader Henrietta told the Flat Chat Forum. “I’m thinking of getting my solicitor to threaten legal action and claim damages for loss of income.”

Henrietta used to live in the unit herself until work-related issues took her out of NSW.

“I had a lot of trouble with noise from the previous tenant,” she says. “I went through the whole process of making complaints to the landlord, the strata executive and the managing agent. I kept records of noise disturbances, obtained witness statements and finally went to mediation … all at my expense.

“Eventually they got rid of the offending tenant and for 12 months everything was OK, but now they have a shocker again.”

Henrietta claims the offending renter is a young English woman who is clearly a bit more The Only Way Is Essex than Downton Abbey.

“She likes to have a good time and has drunken, noisy parties and is generally inconsiderate about how much noise she makes late at night or in the early hours of the morning,” says Henrietta. “She also seems to have a lot of friends staying over.

“At a mediation, she agreed to comply with the strata bylaws as regards noise disturbance, and the deal was that I would have her phone number and ring when there was a problem. But if she is having a good time she simply doesn’t answer her phone, so that was useless.”

So what are the chances of Henrietta getting compensation that would outweigh the cost of a legal action?

It would have to be an action against the tenants, as they are causing the problem, says Ian McKnight, a partner with strata specialists Grace Lawyers.

“It would probably have to be initiated in the local court as the measure of damages would be within the jurisdiction of that court and your reader would have to satisfy the civil burden of proof, i.e. on the balance of probabilities,” he explains.

The Consumer Trader and Tenancy Tribunal (CTTT) – the usual route for strata disputes – does not award damages.

“The owner would not be caught up in it, unfortunately, unless he knowingly permitted it, which is more difficult to prove,” says McKnight, whose firm, did win a landmark judgment against landlords who failed to control the behaviour of their tenants.

When a rolling tenancy of partying backpackers meant the person named on the lease was long gone by the time complaints were made through Fair Trading, the long-suffering downstairs neighbours went to their district court for a noise abatement order against the flat’s owners and won. You can find a report on that case HERE.

A noise abatement order is a much bigger deal than any action taken under strata law. Breaching a court order is a crime and, if you have such an order in place, all you have to do is call the police when it is being breached – for example, a party is in full swing after hours (10pm on weeknights and midnight at the weekend) – and they can arrest the miscreant.

However, if Henrietta just wants the problem to stop, rather than getting compensation, an order from the CTTT forcing the tenant to comply with bylaws is the more usual approach and breaches of that could cost the party girl upstairs up to $5500 in fines.

NSW readers can find links on how to run a case at the CTTT HERE. Interstate readers can find out who to contact about noise problems in their states HERE.

Meanwhile, Henrietta is left looking for a new tenant.

“The owner of the apartment told her managing agent I was always complaining, so my tenant’s complaints have not been taken seriously,” she says. “Perhaps the best plan would be for me to get backpackers or a big boofy bloke as my next tenant.”

You can read Henrietta’s whole sorry tale, plus some Flat Chat readers’ advice, HERE.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.

Ewen McKenzie: no messiah, but a visionary of sorts

McKenzie to tackle ill-discipline

The first time I met Ewen McKenzie was in the foyer of the Queensland Rugby Union’s Ballymore headquarters, not far from a trophy cabinet that hadn’t seen much more than an occasional hoovering for the best part of 15 years.

It was early in 2010 and he had not long been appointed as the new coach of the Reds, taking over from Phil Mooney, a well-liked local mentor whose departure had prompted Digby Ioane to propose a player’s strike to force his return. It didn’t gain much steam.

Here was the seventh Reds coach in 11 seasons. They must have considered installing a turnstile at the front of the coach’s office instead of a door. I shook McKenzie’s hand and introduced myself.

“I know you,” he said, before adding: “Don’t worry, it’s not that bad.”

For a sports writer, that’s about as good as you get when it comes to making fresh starts. But it did provide a glimpse into the way McKenzie operates.

In scouring bylines to see the way the Reds were being portrayed in the local media, he was readying himself to completely refashion a hapless franchise and trampled brand through both deeds and words.

Much has been rightly made about Jake White’s results with the Brumbies, a side now bristling with Wallabies and showing all of the clinical instinct of a side that can take out the Super Rugby crown.

But it shouldn’t overshadow McKenzie’s work with a Reds outfit that had talent but was, to be completely honest, one of the worst sporting franchises in the nation at that point.

From 2004, they had managed to finish 10th, 10th, 12th, 14th, 12th and 13th, winning just three games the year before he took charge and constantly finding new and exciting ways to lodge bullets in their feet. Off the park, they were a corporate punch line drowning in debt.

‘Player retention’ was little more than an abstract concept, with one of McKenzie’s first tasks having to deal with the fallout of Berrick Barnes’ defection to the Waratahs, a cataclysmic event that opened a pit directly to the fires of hell right in the middle of the Ballymore training field.

When asked if he would try to lure Barnes home, lest the Reds implode with only a kid called Quade Cooper as Plan B, McKenzie shot back: “How do you know we want him?” And away he went.

In terms of the McKenzie era at the Reds, the rugby truths are self-evident. From a largely blank canvas emerged one of the fittest, most confident sides in Super Rugby, whose players were suddenly swelled with a self-belief imparted by a coach who gave them a licence to not only thrill but prosper from the inevitable mistakes.

The players loved it, as did the punters, who came through the gates in record numbers to see Queensland soar to a Super Rugby title in 2011. They rarely left Suncorp Stadium with the feeling their side held anything back.

But it has been his work to bridge the gaping disconnect between the Queensland public and their professional side that will be one of his lasting legacies at Ballymore. Those disaffected masses have been embraced and in turn, injected a fresh vitality into rugby north of the Tweed.

Now McKenzie must do it all over again at the head of a national side that has been dealing with more internal factions than the Labor Party and suffering a similar fate in the polls.

One of McKenzie’s pet sayings is ‘perception is reality’. If it looks and sounds like an ill-disciplined rugby side that can’t flourish on the big stage, it’s essentially true. There will be no hiding from what is reflected in the mirror.

Changing those outcomes will be top of the ‘to-do’ list but selling the vision, something the always circumspect Robbie Deans could never really manage, will be a cornerstone of McKenzie’s platform.

Ewen McKenzie is not the messiah, although he does inherit his share of very naughty boys. But he is keenly aware where the game sits, where he wants it to be and what he and the Wallabies must do to get it there.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.

Yau extends stint at Sydney FC

Staying put: Yairo Yau is staying with Sydney FC for another season. Photo: Brendan EspositoSydney FC have secured Yairo Yau on loan for another season and coach Frank Farina believes he is ready to take the A-League by storm this season.

Yau, 23, enjoyed a solid first season in Australia after arriving from Panamanian club Sporting San Miguelito, scoring six goals in 18 appearances.

However, he found it difficult to establish a regular starting position, playing only 11 matches from the opening whistle and leaving his future under a cloud.

The Sky Blues are hopeful that a year of adjusting to life in Australia will hold Yau in good stead, leading the club to offer him another year at Allianz Stadium.

Farina said he wanted the Panama international to make the step up to being a regular member of the first team in 2013-14.

“I’m expecting more from him. I’m expecting him to be better because he won’t need to settle in, he knows the players, the club and the league now so hopefully that will be a benefit and he’ll do even better than he did last year,” Farina said. “Coming to a new country, a new football culture is always difficult and with the attributes he has – he’s very quick and can score goals – we thought he was well worth another look for another season where he won’t have any transitional period and hopefully he can improve on that goal tally.”

If Yau features more often, he could be Sydney’s solution to the left-sided attacking position, a role that hasn’t been adequately filled since Alex Brosque’s departure.

Noted for his pace and keenness to run at defenders, Farina said he felt Yau’s attributes would work well in Sydney’s new system.

“Yairo is young, he’s 23, he scored 6 goals in 10 appearances last year so that was the key [for the extension],” Farina said. “If you ask any football manager in the world what their priority is, it would be a striker who can score goals, has pace and is comfortable on the ball and he ticks all of those boxes.”

Yau only arrived back in Sydney on Tuesday and will report to training for the first time this week.

“I am happy to be continuing my career with Sydney FC,” he said. “I like Sydney, the fans and my team mates. I am excited to be back in the Sydney FC team.”

Meanwhile, Sydney FC will start their pre-season campaign on Wednesday night with a friendly against state league side Belmore United at the Sydney Olympic Park Athletic Centre. Kick-off is at 7pm.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.

Bendigo’s Ashes legacy: Cricket heroes to live on

Source: Bendigo Advertiser

A Bendigo history buff has called on the community to honour three locals, forever linked to the origins of the famous Ashes cricket series between Australia and England.

Peter MacIver has spent hours researching cricketers William Lloyd Murdoch and Harry Boyle who lived in Bendigo and played for the 1882 Australian team that helped create the Ashes legend.

Mr MacIver has also researched another Bendigo cricketer, Billy Midwinter, who played in the first Test match for Australia against England before later representing England against Australia.

Midwinter was not part of the legendary 1882 Australian team.

Mr MacIver said the three Australian players deserved permanent recognition in Bendigo. “All three deserve blue plaques to commemorate their connections to Bendigo,’’ Mr MacIver said.

“Our town is full of wonderful history and we should be celebrating it, after all, one of our main industries is tourism and three more famous Bendigonians can do no harm to visitor figures.”

Mr MacIver said he had spent countless hours delving into Bendigo’s Ashes legacy.

His research will be featured in a five-part Bendigo Advertiser series starting today with part one on William Lloyd Murdoch.

“These stories started out with me researching John Boyd Watson, a fellow Scot and, of course, probably the most successful gold mining millionaire in Sandhurst,’’ Mr MacIver said.

“The discovery that his son-in-law was William Lloyd Murdoch put me on to him.

“I then became puzzled that so little seemed to be written about Murdoch and other members of the early Australian Elevens.

“Only a few have been written about, so I started researching the team with a view to writing about them.

“These men deserve to be remembered and honoured for the contribution they made, not only to Australian sport, but also to creating a national identity in Australia.’’

Bendigo’s Peter MacIvor visits the grave of former Australian cricketer Harry Boyle in the White Hills cemetery. Photo: JIM ALDERSEY