Monday afternoon's news in under 5 minutes.

We’ve rounded up all the latest stories from Australia and around the world – so you don’t have to go searching.

1. Government backs down on higher education funding cuts.


The Federal Government has sidelined a $1.9 billion budget saving in its higher education package, while forging ahead with its push to allow universities to set their own fees.

The measures — fee deregulation and the funding cut — were at the heart of the Coalition’s university overhaul, which seemed doomed to fail for a second time in the Senate and have now been split into two separate pieces of legislation.

The deregulation legislation is set to be debated this week and may result in putting further strain on the federal budget, as it includes a multi-million dollar extension of student loans to TAFE and college students.

Christopher Pyne has split his proposed higher education reform bill, in the hope of getting university fee deregulation through the Senate today.

Education Minister Christopher Pyne has also backed down on his threat to withdraw $150 million for research unless the Senate passed the higher education package.

The dramatic change in tactics will break an apparent deadlock in negotiations with the eight crossbench senators — most of whom have opposed the package.

Mr Pyne said he wanted the deregulation of the university sector to “stand and fall on its own merit” without the $1.1 billion budget cut to course fees.

Related content: Parliament votes down university fee deregulation bill.

“So two debates can be held — one on the Government’s deregulation agenda, which we see as having extraordinary benefits for students and universities,” he said.

“And we’ll have a separate debate around the Government’s reduction of the Commonwealth Grant Scheme to gain savings.”

The Minister said the Government was still committed to cutting federal funding of course fees and expected that separate legislation to be introduced to parliament after the May budget.

This article was originally published by the ABC and was republished here with full permission.

2. Fake QANTAS “free tickets” scam fooled thousands.

An online scam offering “free first class tickets” has been uncovered, after more than 100,000 users signed up to a fake QANTAS Facebook account.

An image was shared more than 102,000 times, with the promise of entering Facebook users into a draw to win the tickets.

The real QANTAS page alerted its customers to the scam, acknowledging they had no affiliation with the offer.

“Facebook has been advised and are currently investigating,” it read.

“Our campaigns are always run from our authenticated Facebook page (identified by its authorised blue tick), or through the official Qantas website.”

3. Muslim Australians feel unfairly targeted by terror laws.

An overwhelming majority Muslim Australians believe they have been unfairly targeted by counter-terrorism laws, a community survey has revealed.

Close to 75 per cent believed the laws were aimed at Muslims, and — despite few actually coming into contact with the laws — felt “under siege” by authorities.

Seventy-five per cent of Australian Muslims feel targeted by anti-terror laws.


Nearly half of the 800 people surveyed said they changed the way they dressed and avoided certain mosques to escape scrutiny.

While one in five believed terror organisations sometimes had legitimate causes, nine out of ten also stated terrorists did not accurately represent Islam.

Researchers, including University of Queensland criminologist Adrian Cherney, said the results of the survey reveal that police need to build more trust and cooperation with the Muslim community, The Guardian reports.

The research involved surveys and focus groups with Muslim Australians from a range of backgrounds, including Pakistanis, Syrians, Indonesians and South Africans, and were represented by an even number of men and women, of all age groups.

4. World Sleep Day study reveals Aussies are the earliest risers.

A new international survey of people across 10 countries reveals Australians are early risers, but our sleep quality is suffering under stress.

Sleep: A Global Perspective found nearly half (45 per cent) of Australians wake before 7.00am — the earliest of the surveyed nations.

Aussies are the earliest risers in the world.


The study involved nearly 8,000 people from the United States, Brazil, the UK, France, the Netherlands, Germany, China, Japan, South Korea, and Australia.

While Australians suffer less stress than the other countries surveyed, the main thing keeping us up at night include financial issues and work.

Interestingly, 88 per cent of Australians identified sleep as having the greatest influence on overall health and well-being.

5. Female guards were “pimped out” to prisoners.

Female prison guards are being prostituted to prisoners of the notorious Rikers Island prison, in New York, America.

A new tell-all book form a former prison guard-turned-prisoner tells of the level of corruption in one of the nation’s top prisons for violence and prisoner neglect.

Prison guard pimped out “copstitutes” in New York prison.


According to author Gary Heyward, author of Corruption Officer, he made a fortune selling contraband and “copstitutes” to inmates.

“Copstitutes” describes female prison guards who also turned tricks, according to the New York Daily News.

When the New York mayor banned the sale of cigarettes to prisoners, Heyward would smuggle them in, taped to his body. A $2 tobacco pouched promised a return of $200.

Heyward explains he couldn’t resist the allure of lucrative money to be made by these illegal dealings — which eventually landed him his own two-year prison term.

6. Government shuts down Tanya Plibersek’s comments on tense relations with Indonesia.

Members of the government have criticised comments from shadow Foreign Affairs Minister Tanya Plibersek, who recently said the Coalition’s “stop the boats” policy had strained relations between Australia and Indonesia.

Plibersek at the weekend cited returning boats to Indonesia as a reason the relationship between the two nations had soured.

Julie Bishop was not pleased with Tanya Plibersek’s comments. However, the deputy opposition leader denies they were related.


“We certainly have been opposed to turnbacks,” Plibersek told Sky News. “Tony Abbott can’t get a phone call returned from the Indonesian president – it has affected our relationship with Indonesia in the past. It has not been good for it.”

The comments were linked to recently rising tensions over the impending execution of Bali Nine prisoners, Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, particularly Indonesian President Joko Widodo failing to return a phone call from Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

Related content: Tanya Plibersek writes her first column for Mamamia.

Foreign Affairs Minister, Julie Bishop, wasn’t pleased with the comments.

“She tied the issue of border protection in with the execution of two Australian citizens and that was a very crude and ill-informed statement to make,” Ms Bishop told ABC radio.

Related content: Julie Bishop writes her first column for Mamamia.

Plibersek’s office has denied the two notions were linked.

7. Band refuses to let go of racist and sexist name.

An American Indie band has come under fire for calling themselves “Black Pussy”.

The all-male, all-white band have been bombarded with evidence of the sexist and racist connotations the name evokes — including the rape of African American slaves — on social media.

The inappropriately-named Black Pussy.

Numerous people have asked the band to reconsider the highly offensive name, but the band seems to have no plans to do so — with one member stating: “I’m not going to change [the name] because a tiny percentage of the population has an issue with it.”

A petition calling for the group to change their name is gaining traction.

“Misogyny and racism are not fun nor sexy,” the petition reads.

What’s making news for you today? Let us know in the comment section, below.

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