Christopher Pyne Addresses National Press Club On Higher Education Changes

The Minister for Education, Christopher Pyne, has delivered an Address to the National Press Club on his higher education reforms.

  • Listen to Pyne’s speech (29m)

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  • Listen to Pyne take questions (26m)

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Transcript of Education Minister Christopher Pyne’s Address to the National Press Club.

Introduction

In the Federal Budget in May, the Government announced a package of changes to Australia’s higher education system. These changes will spread opportunity for students and ensure Australia will not be left behind by cut-throat international competition and disruptive technologies in higher education. [Read more...]


Tony Abbott’s Speech To The Liberal Party Federal Council: “We Are The Party Of Menzies, Fraser And Howard”

The Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, has addressed the Liberal Party’s Federal Council meeting in Melbourne.

Abbott

In its 70th anniversary year, Abbott described the Liberal Party as “the party of Menzies and Fraser and Howard”, a rare reference to Fraser, who no longer belongs to the party and is a persistent critic of its drift to the political right.

But Abbott’s real message was to the crossbench senators who assume office on Tuesday. The government will require 6 of the 8 crossbenchers to support its legislation, if the ALP and the Greens are opposed. Abbott said: “I say to the new senators — we won’t hector you and we won’t lecture you. We respect your election as we ask you to respect ours. We simply ask that you acknowledge the trust placed in us by the Australian people to be their government.”

The Council elected former Howard government minister Richard Alston as the party’s new Federal President, replacing Alan Stockdale, the former Treasurer in the Victorian Kennett government in the 1990s.

The second day of the Council meeting was notable for a dispute between two Abbott ministers. The Minister for Education, Christopher Pyne, and the Attorney-General, Senator George Brandis, clashed on proposed changes to the party’s Constitution. Pyne argued that Brandis should not speak on the issue because of his role in framing the proposals. Critics argued that adequate notice of the proposals had not been given and that the changes gave the Federal party too much power over State divisions. [Read more...]


Martin Hamilton-Smith, Former South Australian Liberal Leader, Defects And Becomes Minister In Weatherill Labor Government

The former leader of the South Australian Liberal Party, Martin Hamilton-Smith, has defected and will become a minister in the Labor minority government led by Jay Weatherill, securing its position in the hung Parliament.

Defection

The decision was announced at a surprise press conference in Adelaide this morning. Hamilton-Smith will become Minister for Investment, Trade, Defence Industries and Veterans Affairs. He has guaranteed to support the government on Supply and confidence motions. He will sit on the crossbenches and contest his electorate of Waite as in independent Liberal in 2018.

Hamilton-Smith’s support gives the Weatherill government 25 votes in the 47-seat House of Assembly. The ALP won 23 seats at the election two months ago and governs with the support of Geoff Brock, the independent member for Frome, who was also given a Cabinet position.

The Liberal Party won 22 seats at the election but will now have 21. There is one other independent, Bob Such, the member for Fisher, who is currently on sick leave. If Such returns to Parliament, his vote will not affect the government’s survival.

The Leader of the Opposition, Steven Marshall, learned of Hamilton-Smith’s defection as he was about to leave on an overseas trip. He condemned Hamilton-Smith’s decision as “an act of political betrayal and treachery”. [Read more...]


Condolence Motions Make For Heartfelt Start To Parliament

Proceedings in the House of Representatives got off to a prickly start today with the government goading the ALP during condolence motions for Arthur Gietzelt and Ariel Sharon.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott set the tone when he moved a motion of condolence for the former Senator Gietzelt who died on January 5 at the age of 93.

Abbott

During his speech, Abbott said: “He was a lion of the Labor Party—or at least he always asserted that he was a lion of the Labor Party and of no other party.” The Labor benches bristled at the comment and as Opposition Leader Bill Shorten rose to speak a voice could be heard describing Abbott as a “low dog”.

Abbott’s comment was a reference to allegations in documents released by the Australian Security Intelligence Service (ASIO) that claimed Gietzelt had communist connections during his time as a member of the ALP. Gietzelt served as a minister in the Hawke government from 1983 to 1987.

Following the Gietzelt condolence, Abbott moved a second condolence motion for former Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon who died on January 11 after spending eight years in a permanent vegetative state following a stroke in 2006. Foreign Minister Julie Bishop spoke to the motion, as did Opposition Leader Bill Shorten and his deputy, Tanya Plibersek.

After the speeches, the Manager of Government Business, Christopher Pyne, associated himself with what he called “the genuine and heartfelt remarks” by Abbott, Bishop and Shorten, “and the remarks made by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition”.

The Opposition benches bristled again, with the comment assumed to refer to a statement made by Tanya Plibersek in the House on September 17, 2002, in the lead-up to the invasion of Iraq. She said: “…I can think of a rogue state which consistently ignores UN resolutions, whose ruler is a war criminal responsible for the massacres of civilians in refugee camps outside its borders. The US supports and funds this country. This year it gave it a blank cheque to continue its repression of its enemies. It uses US military hardware to bulldoze homes and kill civilians. It is called Israel, and the war criminal is Ariel Sharon.” [Read more...]


Government Backflips On School Funding; 4-Year Agreement With $1.2 Billion Restored

The federal government has announced a school funding agreement with the states that maintains the four-year agreements entered into by the Labor government and restoring $1.2 billion removed from the Budget Estimates prior to the election.

Abbott-Pyne

The government’s backflip was announced just before today’s Question Time at a joint press conference by Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Education Minister Christopher Pyne. It follows days of criticism from state governments and lobby groups after last week’s announcement that the Gonski funding deals would be abandoned after 2014.

School funding will now be $2.8 billion over the next four years. It includes $1.2 billion cut from the forward estimates after Queensland, Western Australia and the Northern Territory failed to reach agreements with the Gillard and Rudd governments.

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Joint press release from Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Education Minister Christopher Pyne.

A FAIRER FUNDING AGREEMENT FOR SCHOOLS

Following negotiations with Queensland, Western Australia and the Northern Territory the Government has secured a national agreement on school funding.

The Coalition is committed to ensuring a fairer funding arrangement for schools nationally, whether a deal was signed with the former Labor government or not.

We will restore the $1.2 billion funding cut by Labor – bringing total additional school funding over the next four years to $2.8 billion – ensuring no State or Territory misses out. [Read more...]