School funding: Malcolm doesn’t know whether he’s coming or going

Sideshow Bob walking funny as he derides Mayor Quimby by saying "Sometimes he doesn't know whether he's coming or going".Malcolm Turnbull is confused about our schools. Do you know what he does? He flip flops! Sometimes, he doesn’t know whether he’s coming or going. He wants to sell young Australians’ future short!

Yesterday his government has announced $1.2 billion of funding between 2018-2020. This announcement has come merely weeks after Mr Turnbull announced that public schools will get no federal funding at all.

Nobody knows what he’ll say in a few weeks time, and more importantly, nobody knows what he’ll do if he wins the next election.

Of course, the funding comes with all sorts of silly strings attached, and even then is tiny compared to the $30 billion that Tony Abbott cut over 10 years after promising not to cut education funding.

The Liberals in Canberra have conflicting ideological obsessions. They want to impose their ideological policies in schools, while at the same time they want to cut federal funding for schools. They can’t work out which of those they want more.

Rail duplication: Dan’s budget has done something rarely done in Victoria

This budget handed down by Andrews Government Treasurer Tim Pallas is noteworthy for how it fully funds the Melbourne Metro project, so that this essential project goes ahead even if Malcolm Turnbull continues to play silly games.

Heidelberg tunnel photo by Marcus WongBut there are two other projects that stand out: the Melton and Heidelberg rail duplications.

This is actually a very big deal. Those who know the history of infrastructure investment in this state would know how rare rail duplications are. To put it into perspective, getting Victorian Governments to commit to duplicating railway lines is more difficult than getting the Troika of creditors in Europe to agree to less austerity. Continue reading ‘Rail duplication: Dan’s budget has done something rarely done in Victoria’

Malcolm’s Latham hit list: every public school

Remember the fuss that the conservative side of politics made about Mark Latham’s “hit list” of private schools that were to have their federal funding reduced? Well, it looks like Malcolm Turnbull has a hit list of his own now: Every public school.

We’ve gone from Tony Abbott saying “no cuts to education” before the election to Malcolm saying no federal funding for public schools at all. It’s quite a contrast. The Liberals have truly sent the Gonski funding model off the rails.

Stacking the Senate is a poor substitute for good policy

Back in 2014, I warned about changing the election rules in order to stack the Senate and benefit the Liberal Party.

Since 2013, the Abbott-Turnbull “Government” has continuously sought to bring in ridiculously bad policy. When their policies were rejected in the Senate, instead of reflecting on how bad their policies are and coming up with good policy, they blamed the Senate. Totally unsurprisingly, they are now changing the rules in order to wipe out the cross-benchers and shove their bad policy through.

Contrast this to Victoria, where the Andrews Government has to deal with an upper house where the numbers are even more difficult than in the Senate. While the Turnbull Government is able to choose to do a deal with either the Greens or cross-benchers, the Andrews Government has to work with Greens and cross-benchers. Despite this, the Andrews Government is doing a good job of running the state. It is working with the cross-bench rather than feuding with it. It shows that the problem in Canberra is not the Senate but the Turnbull Government. Continue reading ‘Stacking the Senate is a poor substitute for good policy’

Improving Bentleigh’s buses: some steps forward

A for-dummies book: Learn to: Improve bus frequencies so that they run every 10 minutes, run services until midnight and get all the buses running on Sunday as well.I’ve often said that we need better buses in Melbourne. I was critical of the Napthine Government for how little they did in the area. Right before the election, the local Liberal MP from the area caught the bus along Centre Rd. That said, the Liberals had no interest in improving that bus route, and in the end never did improve it, despite the considerable deficiencies that it has.

Is it any wonder that the local Liberal MP got voted out at the election and that the Napthine Government is no more?

So now we have the Andrews Government, and while we haven’t quite reached bus perfection, the Andrews Government has made some improvements. As a result of the Night Network having been introduced, Centre Rd buses now have considerably improved operating hours on weekends. So now you can be out really late at night and still be able to catch the bus.

Then there’s the removal of the Centre Rd, Bentleigh (and the Clayton Rd crossing) which will mean the end of the timetable being thrown into disarray as a result of level-crossing related disruptions. Waiting a long time at a bus stop on a cold night for a bus stuck in traffic at a crossing – having no idea when the bus will arrive – is not a pleasant experience at all.

That said, there’s still substantial scope for improvement beyond these measures. Buses need to be improved to run frequently, 7 days a week, and buses also need to run between 9pm and 1am.

Naturally, I intend to continue to advocate that the Andrews Government fix the remaining issues with buses in the area. Better buses are vital for Melbourne’s future, especially in the southern suburbs. There’s just about nowhere to put new roads in the area (and the Nepean Highway widening resulted in the demolition of a huge number of houses) which means that the only feasible way forward is better public transport.

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