NSW teachers say ‘full Gonski’ a must

WE NEED IT: NSWTF deputy president Gary Zadkovich said it was clear there was widespread support for the Gonski funding.THE NSW Teachers’ Federation (NSWTF) said a powerful message was delivered to New England candidates at their education forum – “New England kids need the full Gonski”.
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The forum featured representatives from the local community, who talked about the importance of seeing out the needs-based public school funding program proposed in the Gonski report. The report recommended a federal government funded program for six years, until the end of 2019.

However the government has only guaranteed to provide extra funding until 2017.

Independent candidate Tony Windsor and Greens candidate Mercurius Goldstein outlined their education platform at the forum, with both supporting the fullGonski reforms.

Statements were also read from the Country Labor candidate David Ewings and independent Rob Taber, again supporting the reforms.

A NSWTF spokesperson said those at the forum were left feeling ignored by incumbent member Barnaby Joyce, who could not attend and did not provide a statement for the meeting to consider.

NSWTF deputy president Gary Zadkovich said in 2013 there was bipartisanship for full Gonski funding.

“Politics were put aside and students put first,” he said.

The seat of New England has received $14.1 million in extra funding – the second highest after Parkes – but would miss out on a great deal more, with most of the Gonski funding coming in the last two years.

Mr Zadkovich said the money is there but politicians were not prepared to allocate it to schools.

He suggested building one less submarine would provide the full Gonski funding.

“Gonski is the fairest system of education funding we’ll ever see in our life time – every child has the right to an equal opportunity to a quality education,” Mr Zadkovich said.

“The message from the forum is to stand up for our children and grandchildren and call on all political parties and candidates in the New England to support full Gonski funding.”

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Election 2016: When a pollie promises to cut, you know they’re serious

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten during the People’s Forum debate at the Windsor RSL. Photo: Andrew MearesParty leaders are criss-crossing the country. No baby is safe from political puckering, no shopping centre free from the risk of a made-for-television walk-through from those who would be prime minister.
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Springtime might bring on the shearing, as the old Australian folk song would tell us, but election time brings on the something altogether unique – the dark art of election promises.

It’s true that the less likely you are to win power, the more fanciful your promises can be. After all, if you never have to implement it, you can promise to paint the Sydney Harbour Bridge pink and pave Carlton’s Lygon Street without fear of breaking them.

Of course, the only reason you’d make fanciful promises is the slim-but-springing-eternal hope that they might, just might, do the trick and get you elected. Which then becomes an election you’re almost sorry you won, as you have to then either pony up for the pink paint or tell the Australian people that, well, sorry, I didn’t mean it.

In the latter corner sits almost every prime minister of the past two decades. No cuts to the ABC? Um, yeah, about that… L-A-W Law tax cuts? Well, not so much. Non-core promises? No carbon tax under the government I lead? “Never ever” a GST?

It’s enough to make you wonder why we listen before an election at all. The pollies we deserve?

I have some sympathy for our politicians, though. It’s how the game is played, in Canberra, in the media and in our homes. “Boring but honest and responsible” is a great way to govern, but a terrible way to try to win government, I’m afraid. Self interest and a lack of attention from voters is a bad start. And when you’re the only party playing by the rules, you’d be at an enormous disadvantage.

So, bring on the promises and the pork barrelling – it’s election time.

Maybe the only promises we should believe are those that’ll actually cost us something. After all, no pollie is going to risk losing votes before an election, then fail to follow through on the policy. Who wins the cutting war?

The superannuation system is a good starting point. The Coalition has announced changes that limit the size of the tax-free portion of our super.

That’s smart and responsible – a system that was supposed to take the place of pensions was never meant to be the equivalent of a Cayman Islands tax haven.

Then we have the bizarre situation of Labor – for purely political purposes – wanting to water down the changes.

When PM Turnbull is trying to take money away from millionaires, and former AWU boss Shorten is giving it back, you know we’re in an election.

Super is overly generous, and changes need to be made. A points victory to the Coalition. Gearing up

The parties go back to their respective ideological corners for the next round – negative gearing. At issue are the dual (related) concerns of housing affordability and the fairness of tax concessions on interest.

Labor is flagging cuts, while the Libs have decided it will cause the sky to fall down. The Baby Boomers want negative gearing left alone, while Gen Y/Millennials want it gone. Kids blaming their parents for being out of touch? Plus ça change.

Housing affordability is a real issue that needs to be addressed.

But if we allow companies to deduct their interest costs, why not property investors? This round is a draw.

Then there’s Labor’s plan to halve the capital gains tax discount on assets held longer than twelve months. Self-interest rears its head here, too, but the policy question is simple: what social or economic good is created by the current 50 per cent discount, and would it be materially undone by reducing it to 25 per cent.

There are good reasons for investing for the long term – but those reasons are self-generating (ie great returns), and not reliant on the tax system for those benefits.

Without a clear reason to keep it, Labor wins this round. Restoring balance

Not returning the budget to surplus as quickly as previously promised is a change from both parties. With nothing to split them, this round is a draw somewhat by definition. If history was a guide, we might think that a Coalition government would restore the budget balance more quickly, but history owes more to circumstances than policy. A draw it is.

Cutting medical funding feels like a terrible move – but targeting GPs and testing (think radiology and pathology) is Coalition policy. Labor opposes it. For many years, federal governments of both stripes have been reining in subsidies to pharmacies and their wholesalers, delivering much-needed savings.

Freezing increases in the Medicare rebate for doctors and cutting incentives for scans and testing is a smart move that can always be reversed if they result in unfavourable patient outcomes.

A victory for the Coalition. Foolish takeaway

What does all of this have to do with investing? Nothing and everything.

If you plan to negatively gear an investment property, or you own shares in a pathology business, you’ll be keenly interested in the specific outcomes. But more broadly, to assist continued economic prosperity, the budget needs to be balanced – over time – by getting the combination of spending and tax into better shape, as well as making sure policy decisions boost economic activity, not just economic wealth.

There’ll be plenty more promises to come before election day, but the true long-term investor knows that self-interest (as well as sensible public policy) is making sure the economy has the right long-term settings, to maximise growth – which in turn leads to economic and investor success.

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Scott Phillips is a Motley Fool  investment advisor. You can follow Scott on Twitter @TMFScottP. The Motley Fool’s purpose is to educate, amuse and enrich investors. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691).

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Footy comes to the fore at Pyengana

SIXTY YEARS IN THE MAKING: East Coast Swans and Winnaleah line up before the historic match on Saturday. Picture: SuppliedEverything Australians know and love about country footy came to the fore at Pyengana Oval last Saturday.
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Hosting its first game in 60 years,the town of 120 attracted an estimated crowd of 1200 to a match which sawhome side East Coast Swans snatch a7-point win ina windy, see-sawing clash against Winnaleah.

The historical significance of the occasion was not lost onthose involvedas the Swans kitted out in 1950s replica Pyengana guernseys, which were auctioned off after the game.

Such was the success of the event that match organiser Michael Lefevre’s arguably optimistic pre-match estimate of 1000 spectators was well and trulyexceeded,and plans have already been made to bring netball as well as an NEFU clash to the ground next year.

Despite the six-decade gapbetween matches, the oval more than met expectations.

“A lot of players commented on it – they reckoned it was probably the best ground they’ve played on in the NEFU,” Mr Lefevre said.

“It’s a nice ground and we’d done a bit of work to it -we’ve been working on it for a couple of years.”

After conceiving the return of football to the ground several years ago, Mr Lefevre and a ten-strong team set about preparing the ground for use.

Leading up to Saturday’s match, the team spent many aweekendclearing the ground’sperimeter of blackberries and dead trees, a feat which eventually allowed council workers to access the ground with mowers.

More recently, lines and goal posts were erected – allwith the help ofwell-wishing friends and acquaintances.

“There’s a bloke who lives not far down from Pyengana, he’s got a crane and we just asked him and he said he’d bring the crane up one weekend and lift the posts up.

“We dug the holes by hand and we mixed the cement by ourselves -we just had a level and a few boards and tried to keep it simple and we got the job done.”

A 100-person grandstand and two marquee tents were also donated to add to the atmosphere on game day.

“At St Helens you’d go down there and tell them what we were doing and they’d say “yeah we’ll help you, we’ll donate them”.

“Everyone got behind it and we couldn’t be more thankful for those people that helped –that’s what happens out here, people get onand do whatever they can do to help.”

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Supercoach Surtees

TAMWORTH’s own supercoach Ron Surtees has been recognised with a Tamworth Community Sports Award this month after over 45 years of developing talent across the region.
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The monthly Sportsmans Warehouse-backed award never misses its mark, although few awardees can boast a record as impressive as the former Tamworth High teacher and coach, who has a litany of sporting and coaching achievements to his name including the mentoring of a few local Olympians.

Specialising in water polo and rugby league, Surtees first hit the coaching spotlight when he took up a teaching and coaching role at his former school Tamworth High in 1970, remaining there until retiring in 2008.

In that time Surtees coached the school’s water polo team to 14 state water polo championships and into a golden era of local players, with five of them going on to the Institute of Sport and then the Olympics. Nathan Thomas captained the Australian team in Atlanta along with fellow Surtees mentee Craig Miller.

Sportsmans Warehouse managers Bob Barber and Ricky Craig flank local sporting identity Ron Surtees who was recognised with the Tamworth Community Sports Award this month. Photo: Barry Smith 190516BSA01

In rugby league Surtees is one of the only people in the country that can lay claim to winning a University Shield as part of Tamworth High’s 1965 side, and winning one as coach in 1978.

“I was privileged to coach one and play in one,” Surtees said.

Surtees also took the school hockey team to three state finals, winning one and losing the other two in shoot-outs.

Overall the supercoach directed Tamworth High teams to 49 state finals across the three sports, that number climbing to an even 50 including his University Shield win, and more impressively coming away with 30 titles for a winning percentage that would be the envy of any coach.

While still at Tamworth High, Surtees was invited to help out at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, where his next brainchild and passion began along with Wally Franklin, the Tamworth Regional Sporting Hall of Fame and following that the Olympian Honour Wall on the front of Ray White House.

“When I was working at the Olympics I had the idea and knew that we had at least eight Olympians from Tamworth,” Surtees said.

“We formed a committee and decided to go for it.”

“It was a real highlight to have all the athletes turn up to the unveiling of the plaques, and all of them said it was an honour.”

“It was an absolute thrill.”

Surtees only concern now is who he and people like chairman Wally Franklin can pass the baton to.

“We need to keep adding the future Olympians and recognising the achievements from this region,” Surtees said.

He believes that Bill Chaffey and John Porch will likely take the next two plaques for para-triathlon and rugby sevens respectively, and also believes that the talent in the region can keep the plaques coming at a good rate.

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Two in a row for Guy and Hulme

Justin Guy and local Eric Hulme in their Pro Buggy (PIC: Sean O’Leary)Maitland driverJustin Guy and navigator Eric Hulme made it two in a row when they took out overall honours in the Scott’s Hydraulics Dondingalong Off Road Challenge hosted by the Kempsey Macleay Off Road Club
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Guy and Hulme in their Pro Buggy beat home Peter Carr and Matthew Windham in their Polaris UTV Superlite with Glenn Hoffman driving solo completing the podium positions. KMORC secretary David Spokes with Glen Hayes alongside finished fourth, only 1.15 seconds behind Hoffman after nearly 45 minutes of racing over the technical 2.2km Dondingalong course.

Spokes was happy with how he had gone and how the racing had panned out over the weekend.

“From my own point of view I was pretty happy with my race, we were testing a new gearbox and it was good to get a top four result,” Spokes said. “In the end it was Justin Guy and local Eric Hulme who took the win from Peter Carr in a UTV Superlite Polaris.

KMORC secretary David Spokes and Glen Hayes finished fourth (PIC: Sean O’Leary)

“The Superlites go really well at Dondingalong, being four-wheel drive on what is a tight track so it is no surprise to see them at the front.”

The racing consisted of five heats with every class having at least two runs on a track soaked with water to keep down the dust. Spokes said this adds to the unpredictability of the result of the race.

“The different classes race on a water soaked track at different times so their heat race times vary and you usually don’t know the result until the last Pro Buggy heat on a dry track, but if you get a shower of rain in there that can really jumble the result,” he said.

Spokes next competitive outing is the famous Finke Desert Race in the Northern Territory in June teamed with fellow club member Craig Anderson Finke is a 229km blast in each direction from Alice Springs to Finke River.

“This will be our second go at Finke,” Spokes said. “Being a point to point race rather than a lap it relies a lot on experience because you only see the track once in each direction.”

The next local off road competition will be the Wittitrin race in August

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