THE NEWS WRAP: Gillard in showdown with states over Gonski

Prime Minister Julia Gillard has announced plans to boost school funding by $14.5 billion over the next five years, with the federal government to contribute $9.4 billion while the states contribute the remaining third.


However, while New South Wales appears keen to support the plan, the federal government has met opposition from the state governments of Victoria, Queensland and Western Australia.


“This model would see Western Australian students penalised because of this state’s high level of investment in our schools. This investment in part recognises that some of our students are among the most vulnerable in the nation,” WA Premier Colin Barnett said.


Turnbull confident of Telstra deal


Shadow communications minister Malcolm Turnbull says he is confident a Coalition government would be able to reach an agreement with Telstra over its alternative broadband policy.


Announced last week, the Coalition’s policy would see fibre optic cables laid out to street cabinets, or nodes, with Telstra’s existing copper covering the final mile to subscribers’ homes.


“Tension with government has never been good for Telstra shareholders. I am very confident that we’ll achieve speedily the slight rearrangements to the agreements we’re talking about,” Turnbull said.


Private insurer attacks comparison sites over affordability


Medibank Private managing director George Savvides has attacked health insurance comparison websites, claiming brokers drive up costs for consumers, ahead of a potential public listing.


“[Comparison sites] haven’t really changed the dynamics of affordability. In fact, I’d argue they’re adding to costs because of the commission,” Savvides told Fairfax.


The claim is disputed by iSelect chief executive Matt McCann, who believes the services also benefit insurance providers.


“Those [funds] that don’t participate in the comparison channel have found it hard to grow in this market. And for us, funds wouldn’t use us if we weren’t an efficient form of distribution for their products,” McCann said.




The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed down 0.08 points to 14,865.06. The Aussie dollar is down to US105.05 cents


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