Tony Abbott holds fire on plan to axe uni services fee

September 26, 2013 – 1:11PM

Daniel Hurst

Federal political reporter


Tony Abbott has put a plan to axe the university student services and amenities fee on ice after a Nationals MP warned that regional members would object.

Education Minister Christopher Pyne flagged on Tuesday a move against what he called “a form of compulsory student unionism” but Mr Abbott declared on Thursday he was in no rush to axe the $273 per student fee after criticism from the university sector, student unions and a Coalition MP.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott tours the Ipsum Loral factory in Bayswater, Melbourne's outer east, on Thursday.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott tours the Loral Ipsum factory in Bayswater, Melbourne’s outer east, on Thursday. Photo: Jason South

Asked whether he had any concerns about the impact on regional universities and student services, Mr Pyne said: “We don’t support compulsory student unionism and we don’t support the student amenities fee and at an appropriate time we’ll move to abolish it.”


Nationals MP Michael McCormack said he and colleagues were “surprised and shocked” at the proposal and worried about the impact on regional universities.

Mr Pyne had not put a specific timeframe on axing the fee, apart from telling the Australian Financial Review on Tuesday: “It might be in the budget, but that’s not until May.”

Mr Pyne then sought to dampen expectations, telling ABC Radio on Wednesday the axing of the fee was not a priority. Mr Abbott said on Thursday the government had other, more important priorities.

University leaders have accused the Coalition government of reviving an outdated ideological debate over student unionism and argued services would be diminished if the government scrapped the student services fee.

Compulsory student unionism, long opposed by the Liberals, was abolished by the Howard government in 2005 but the Gillard government passed legislation in 2011 to allow a new student services and amenities fee.

The fee of up to $273 per student is collected by universities to subsidise services such as legal assistance, sporting facilities and childcare, as well as student advocacy.

The issue has the potential to revive old divisions between the Coalition parties.

Mr McCormack told ABC Radio his party’s members were “surprised and shocked” at the proposal which he said was not well thought through.

“I think perhaps it has to go to a backbench committee where we have regional Liberals, as well as National party members, who can argue the point on behalf of regional universities and regional students that the student services and amenities fee is an integral part of regional university campuses,” he said.

Nationals frontbenchers Barnaby Joyce and Fiona Nash, who have previously been outspoken on the student fees issue, did not respond to Fairfax Media’s questions on Wednesday.

Mr Abbott made clear on Thursday the government was not rushing to make changes.

“When the former government moved to re-impose compulsory student unionism we obviously opposed it,” he told reporters in Melbourne.

“I have to say that there’s a lot on our plate. We are going to be a very busy and active government over the next few years and this is not a priority for us and we have no plans for change in this area at this time.”

Mr Abbott also defended Mr Pyne’s decision to review the current demand-driven university system – whereby the federal government funds as many places as institutions can handle.

Labor has accused the Coalition of walking away from its pre-election comments that it had no plans to re-introduce caps on university places.

Mr Abbott said Labor’s higher education spokesman Kim Carr had made similar comments before the election about whether the uncapping of places had affected quality.

But Mr Abbott emphasised the Coalition would not abandon the principle of expanded access to university.

“We are looking at this issue,” Mr Abbott said.

“The important thing is to ensure that we maximise access to universities while at the same time maintaining and wherever possible improving their quality.

“That’s why we’re looking at this issue but what we aren’t going to do is compromise the commitments we took to the people at the last election.”

The Coalition has long argued for a central focus on quality, but Mr Abbott told a Universities Australia conference in February the sector most needed “a period of relative policy stability” and played down suggestions of changes to the demand-driven system.

Mr Pyne issued a media release in August 2012 headlined “Coalition will not cap places or raise HECS” and told ABC TV in July this year he had “no plans to restore the cap”.

Acting Labor leader Chris Bowen said on Wednesday regional universities and aspiring students from less wealthy families would be the big losers if the Coalition broke its promise.

Mr Bowen said the review would provide an “alibi for cutting university funding”.

Universities Australia chief executive Belinda Robinson said she was surprised by the minister’s comments because the Coalition had made strong statements in support of keeping the demand-driven system.

Australian Catholic University Greg Craven said he was “relaxed” about the review because he was confident it would show the current system was not affecting quality.

Australian Scholarships Group chief executive John Veleginis said he did not agree with Mr Pyne that the student services and amenities fees was “compulsory student unionism by the back door”.

He said the fee helped to provide social and emotional support for disadvantaged or lower socio-economic background students who may otherwise face significant barriers in pursuing post-secondary study.

with Josephine Tovey and Benjamin Preiss

Canberra Times

Another record-setting day – but not for Brisbane

September 26, 2013 – 5:43PM

Kristian Silva


Brisbane's temperature is expected to soar this weekend.

Photo: James Davies

Queenslanders sweated through another September scorcher on Thursday, with at least ten temperature records broken as this week’s hot spell continued.

Taroom appears to have been the hottest place in Queensland, with the mercury climbing to 41.4 degrees, according to Bureau of Meteorology forecaster Rick Threlfall.

It was followed by Julia Creek (41.3), Longreach (40.8) and Rolleston and Isisford (both 40.7).

A record September temperature was also set in Toowoomba, where it reached 34.4 this afternoon.


Mr Threlfall said at least ten September records were broken, but the final figure would only be determined tomorrow when all weather stations submitted their results.

Things were cooler in Brisbane on Thursday however, and the city reached its maximum of 29.3 shortly after 1.30pm.

“The sea breeze came in too early so there were never going to be records (for Brisbane),” Mr Threlfall said.

The bureau is predicting fine weather for Friday, with a top of 27 degrees. There is a chance of showers on Saturday morning, but they are expected to clear.

A strong wind warning currently is in place for Moreton Bay, where gusts of between 25 and 30 knots are predicted to drop off by Friday morning.

For Friday, fire warnings have been issued for the Maranoa and Warrego, Central West, Channel Country, Central Highlands and Coalfields and Darling Downs and Granite Belt districts.

Parts of the North West, Capricornia, Wide Bay and Burnett and Southeast Coast districts will also be under fire watch.

Brisbane Times

O Observador: “Pecado Mortal” resgata DNA que marcou a Record


Estreou na noite desta quarta-feira (25) a “nova superprodução da Record”, como vem sendo chamada pela emissora, “Pecado Mortal”.

A novela é, antes de tudo, um tapa na cara de quem, algum dia, desconfiou que a Record poderia voltar a produzir uma história que se aproximasse do “padrão Globo de qualidade”. E sim, “Pecado Mortal” é carne de primeira.

De qualidade bem distante daquela carne que classifiquei, neste mesmo espaço, quando “Balacobaco” estreou. O folhetim de Gisele Joras começou bem, leve, mas logo caiu no “popularesco” e cada vez mais apostou em clichês, fazendo seu texto perder a qualidade e o telespectador se afastar. “Balacobaco” enganou, ou mais do que isso, se enganou. Na busca da “classe C”, perdeu-se e deixou escorregar das suas mãos o DNA da Record.

E que tal de DNA é esse? A história não é somente uma sucessão de fatos isolados, mas um poderoso material à disposição de quem precisa. Numa rápida retrospectiva, é fácil se dar conta que os maiores sucessos da Record, na área de dramaturgia, apostaram no drama, em crimes e muito suspense para prender seu público. Foram eles “Poder Paralelo”, “Chamas da Vida”, “Vidas Opostas” e “Caminhos do Coração”, para citar alguns.

“Pecado Mortal” pareceu, nesse primeiro capítulo, justamente o resgate do ingrediente que havia em todas as novelas mais vistas da casa. Carlos Lombardi cumpriu as expectativas na parte que lhe cabia: “Pecado” tem um texto de qualidade jamais vista na TV Record, sem clichês, além de possuir uma história original, rechaçando qualquer tipo de cartilha clássica.

Mas quem faz uma cena não é somente o autor, apesar deste ter grande parte de responsabilidade. Os melhores momentos de “Pecado Mortal” foram protagonizados pelos mais experientes atores que a trama dispõe: Jussara Freire e Betty Lago deram um show em frente às câmeras, assim como Juliana Didone e Maytê Piragibe, que mostraram para que estavam ali.

Poucas vezes na história da Record um primeiro capítulo foi feito com tanta perfeição. A emissora pode dizer, enfim, que tem a novela mais próxima possível do “padrão Globo”, o que tanto quis. E mais do que isso, o maior orgulho da Record tem que ser o reconhecimento de que seu DNA foi resgatado. Finalmente.
Comente o texto no final da página. E converse com o colunista: / Twitter @cunhabreno

Antenado: “Pecado Mortal” tem estreia ágil e com o estilo “Lombardiano”


A Record estreou nesta última quarta-feira (25) a novela “Pecado Mortal”, a primeira de Carlos Lombardi depois de 31 anos escrevendo para a Rede Globo. O primeiro capítulo era muito, mas muito esperado. Lombardi não escrevia uma novela desde 2006, quando fez “Pé na Jaca”. O que se podia esperar dele?

O resultado foi o melhor possível. O primeiro capítulo foi muito ágil. Quem assistiu, não teve tempo para respirar, pois a cada minuto uma cena acontecia. A primeira fase, que se passou em 1944, foi um prólogo da trama em si, narrada em 1977. Neste momento, brilhou a estrela de Maytê Piragibe. Como Donana, a atriz foi segura e firme, passando veracidade e emoção. Sem dúvida, a melhor atuação dela desde que trabalha em novelas da Record.

Passada a primeira fase, que contou o eixo central da história, houve um avanço de tempo, que apresentou os núcleos da trama. Uma coisa curiosa que o telespectador notou foi que muita gente de “Pecado Mortal” atua em “José do Egito”, longa minissérie que antecedeu a trama de Lombardi.

A fotografia da novela, neste primeiro momento, foi excelente. A direção de Alexandre Avancini foi altamente acertada, e a grande maioria dos atores pareceram seguros. Existia uma desconfiança em relação ao nome de Fernando Pavão como protagonista. Lombardi deixou claro que ele deve ficar muito sem camisa na trama (outra marca do autor: homens sem camisa), mas Pavão mostrou segurança no papel.

Simone Spoladore, mais uma vez, deve ser competente como Patrícia, mas fica o receio de que ela não seja tão irregular como foi em “Vidas em Jogo”, por exemplo. Outro destaque foi a atriz Carla Cabral (na verdade, Carla Regina, que mudou de nome pela numerologia), que quase quarentona, está com tudo em cima e promete ter o seu melhor personagem em anos. Sem falar nas atuações de Jussara Freire e Betty Lago, que prometem ser as donas da novela.

No mais, todos os clichês “Lombardianos” estão lá: homens sem camisa, tiroteio, ação, texto ágil com pitadas de bom humor e a famosa “companhia lombardiana de comédia”, que são atores carimbados que sempre atuam em novelas do Lombardi: Betty Lago, Heitor Martinez, Luiz Guilherme, Claúdio Heinrich, Carlos Bonow, entre outros, estão lá, firmes e fortes.

O saldo final foi bastante positivo e, pra mim, “Pecado Mortal” teve o melhor primeiro capítulo já exibido pela Record. Sem tropeços e com trama ágil, a novela promete muito.

Segundo dados prévios, a audiência foi boa: 11 pontos em São Paulo e 12 no Rio de Janeiro. Só espero que tal agilidade continue, afinal, o primeiro capítulo de “Amor à Vida” foi bem ágil e, bem, todos estão vendo a bela bomba atômica que ela virou. Tenho certeza que Carlos Lombardi não irá me decepcionar.
Gabriel Vaquer escreve sobre mídia e televisão há vários anos. Além do “Antenado”, é responsável pelo “Documento NaTelinha”. Converse com ele. Twitter: @bielvaquer

AFC U-16 C’ship (Qs): Singapore 9-0 Macau

Published on Friday, 27 September 2013 15:17

Hong Kong: Singapore registered their second consecutive win after thrashing Macau 9-0 in the Group G of the AFC U-16 Championship 2014 qualifiers match played at the Hong Kong Football Club on Friday.

Royaton Tan scored a hattrick while Muhammad Syukri and Muhammad Zulqarnael registered two goals each in a comfortable win for the Singaporean who are equal on points with table toppers Australia and Hong Kong as both of them will be facing each other later on the day.

Haiqal Pashia and Prakash Raj also notched a goal apiece for the winning side who take on Australia in an important clash on Sunday. Macau conceded 33 goals in their four matches played in the qualifiers.

The top ten teams from the same number of groups will advance into the finals alongside with five best runners-up and host Thailand.


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AFC U-16 C’ship (Qs): Hong Kong 0-2 Australia

Published on Friday, 27 September 2013 17:47

Hong Kong: Australia made a huge step towards qualifications in the AFC U-16 Championship 2014 after edging unbeaten hosts Hong Kong 2-0 in the Group G qualifying match played at the Hong Kong Football Club on Friday.

Two goals within the space of six minutes separated the sides as Australia remained unbeaten with nine points from possible nine in the group.

Nicholas D’Agostino continued his fine form in front of the goal by netting Australia’s first in the 33rd minute. Six minute later Jake William doubled the lead which was enough for the Joeys to walk away with all three points from the match.

Hong Kong and Singapore are at second and third place respectively after suffering two wins and a defeat in their previous three matches. Australia face Singapore while Hong Kong meet Chinese Taipei in the final matches of the group on Sunday.

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Auckland the most unprepared for disaster

Auckland volcano

DISASTER STRIKES: Auckland Council’s impression of the effects of a volcanic eruption in the city.

Most Aucklanders are unprepared for a volcanic eruption or even the smallest natural disaster, the city’s civil defence head says.

“Aucklanders as individuals are not well-prepared. We are the least prepared in the country. Only about one in 10 people is really prepared for most eventualities. That is far too low,” Auckland Civil Defence controller Clive Manley told today’s forum on managing volcanic risk in Auckland.

The Auckland volcanic field is the most densely populated field of its type in the world. Fifty-six volcanoes have been identified in the field.

The field is 250,000 years old and there have been 55 eruptions. The most recent was Rangitoto 500 years ago, when it erupted two or three times.

The forum showed the public the way the Auckland Council, central government and the civil defence and emergency management sectors are preparing for next Auckland eruption.

The risk of a volcanic eruption was low, but being ready for the possibility of a house fire, flood or loss of power required the same preparation, Manley said.

“So if you prepare for the small things that can happen, that is you actually prepared for the big things, which is leave your property quickly, or if your power is out and your communications, how are you going to survive?” he said.

Located in an isthmus within the volcanic field, the city had many challenges to respond to in an eruption, but residents must have faith in the preparedness of the Government and Civil Defence, Manley said.

“Today it is important to show all the research that has been done and show all the planning that has been done so the community can get a real understanding of just when we say something’s happening, that their lives depend on them trusting that information,” he said.

“Katrina and other disasters; the people who ended up dying were the people who chose not to evacuate. In Auckland, we want people to have confidence in the system.”

Scientists had a good understanding of the potential effects of an Auckland eruption and knew the area affected would be within a a 3-kilometre to 5km radius of the eruption, said Brad Scott, volcano surveillance co-ordinator with GNS Science.

If an eruption occurred in South Auckland, northern Auckland would not be affected, he said.

“It will be disrupted by the volcanic ash and wind and it is going to be a real nuisance, but you are not going to be affected by those primary agencies, the explosions and the lava flows,” he said.

“It allows people to scale the problem and say I am 15km away from the problem, I can stay here.”

What scientists did not know was when that eruption might occur.

“That is one of the things that we are really struggling with,” Scott said.

“The challenge for us is to interpret that unrest and turn it into a warning. Is it going to turn up in a day, is it going to turn up in a week, is it going to turn up in a month?”


– © Fairfax NZ News

Flávio Ricco comenta o começo de Pecado Mortal


Causou a melhor das impressões o capítulo de estreia de “Pecado Mortal“, do Carlos Lombardi, na Record.

Ninguém aqui é maluco de analisar uma novela pelo primeiro capítulo, mas deu pra perceber que existe uma história bem montada e uma direção muito firme. Destaque também para o excelente trabalho da sua finalização.

Deu todo jeitão que vai pegar.

Então é isso. Mas amanhã tem mais. Tchau!


Flávio Ricco com colaboração de José Carlos Nery