That's it from the Sydney Morning Herald newsroom for this morning's blog. See you tomorrow at 6am.
A quarter of Australia's public schools could turn independent by 2017, with the Federal Government announcing a $70 million plan this morning.
The move fulfils an election promise in which the $70 million will be spent on getting parents and principals to have more say on school curriculums, budgets and management.
"Sure it is a tight budgetary situation but the prime minister and I have agreed that $70 million is about right to give this the kick along that we want to see happen," Education Minister Christopher Pyne told ABC radio.
It’s the issue that’s sure to catch the attention of Australia’s young families - affordable childcare.
The Coalition released figures showing that under the Labor leadership, the hourly costs of long day care jumped 50 per cent to $7.50.
But as our political writer Judith Ireland reports, the Labor Party believes the Coalition has been ‘‘sneaky’’.
Opposition education spokeswoman Kate Ellis said that Labor had worked to reduce costs for parents by increasing the childcare rebate, which pays a maximum of $7500 a child, each year.
You hold the vote. You decide.
The daughter of acclaimed Hollywood director, Woody Allen, has lashed out at the film industry for supporting a man she has labelled as a molester.
In an open letter published on the New York Times website, Dylan Farrow asked Allen’s leading lady, Cate Blanchett: ‘‘What if it had been your child?’’
The letter details the sexual abuse she received at the hands of Allen when she was seven years old and can be found here.
Blanchett responded to the letter in a statement: ‘‘It's obviously been a long and painful situation for the family and I hope they find some resolution and peace.’’
Woody Allen's daughter revisits abuse
Dylan Farrow speaks for the first time about the alleged sexual abuse she suffered at the hands of her adoptive father.PT0M0S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-31vlv 620 349 February 3, 2014
The much-lauded actor, Philip Seymour Hoffman, is dead. He died from a drug overdose, police speculate.
The body of the 46-year-old was discovered with a syringe in his arm in the bathroom of his New York City apartment about 3.30am.
He won the Best Actor Oscar for the biographical film, Capote, and has received a slew of other significant awards and nominations.
His family said in a statement: "We are devastated by the loss of our beloved Phil and appreciate the outpouring of love and support we have received from everyone."
Philip Seymour Hoffman dead at 46
Philip Seymour Hoffman at the Venice Film Festival in 2012. Photo: Reuters
A cyclone is developing in the Gulf of Carpentaria off the coast of Queensland. It’s the third cyclone warning in less than a week.
Authorities have issued warnings to coastal and island communities from the Northern Territory-Queensland border to Kowanyama, on Cape York Peninsula’s west coast.
Just before 5am, a tropical low was 95km south-southeast of Mornington Island and 40km north of Burketown.
"It’s just a matter of whether it does track over water for long enough," senior forecaster Matthew Bass told the ABC.
The Super Bowl XLVIII will begin in just over a couple of hours, with the Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos preparing to battle it out in front of 80,000 spectators.
Millions more around the world will be watching the game at Metlife stadium in New Jersey from their television sets.
It's the first time the game will be played in the open in a cold-climate city. It will be six degrees at kick off.
All eyes are on the Bronco's quarterback Peyton Manning. Why? Read this piece here.
Peyton Manning Photo: Reuters
Traffic lights are still out at Hammondville on Heathcote Road, affecting both ways.
There’s an accident on the northbound lane on the M9 in Orchard Hills, causing delays.
There’s also a five-kilometre queue on the Hume Highway.
A fire at a Nomads outlaw motorcycle club house was deliberately lit, witnesses say.
Neighbours say they heard voices outside the building in Byron Bay, shortly before it caught fire at 3.35am. The fire damaged two other buildings.
"It's basically been started by putting a whole heap of magazines and books, and then using accelerant, probably petrol, to light the front of the Nomads club up," Fire and Rescue NSW commander Phil Sheedy told Macquarie Radio.
"Unfortunately a signwriting business and a storage facility were completely destroyed by fire."
Forensic specialists will examine the building.
The fire on a yacht at Double Bay Marina this morning has been extinguished, Fire and Rescue NSW confirmed.
The boat is slowly sinking. Adjacent boats were saved but have sustained heat damage.
The 40-50 foot luxury boat is smouldering. Authorities are warning eastern suburbs and city residents of a "very strong smell of smoke" this morning.
Hazardous materials ops are under way.
"There are diesel tanks on board, so we're putting booms around. We don't want the waterways contaminated. That's the main focus now," said superintendent Paul Johnstone.
Smouldering: the luxury cruiser. Photo: Peter Rae
The Australian dollar is trading at 87.69 US cents, a very slight increase from 87.68 cents on Friday’s close.
It fell as low as 86.99 US cents on Saturday night after fears over emerging markets were reignited and China’s official manufacturing sector gauge dropped to a five-month low in January.
The Australian market looks set to open lower following the lead of international markets on continued unease over emerging markets.
This morning, the March share price index futures contract was down 23 points at 5120.
On Wall Street: S&P500 -0/65%, Dow Jones -0.94%, Nasdaq -0.47%
A 40-50 foot luxury cruiser has been up in flames since 6am today at a marina in Castra Place in Double Bay.
Fire and Rescue NSW confirmed that other boats were in very close proximity and it was working to protect them. "They would be under threat by radiant heat," superintendent Paul Johnstone told Fairfax Media.
The fact the boat is out on the water is also a challenge for firefighters who can't get their trucks close, he said. "The trucks are at quite a distance from the water. So we have water supply issues."
Thirty firefighters are on the scene.
The escape of diesel fuel from the yacht is also a concern. The boat is at the very end of a long wharf.
Nearby residents are being told to shut their windows.
A boat is on fire at Double Bay Marina. Firefighters trying to protect other boats.
The traffic lights are out mainly along Heathcote Road in the Hammondville area near Liverpool. Be careful and drive slowly, says the Transport Management Centre. Electricians are on site to fix the problem.
A few ferry services between Parramatta and Rydalmere have been cancelled and replaced by buses because of low tides.
Buses replace trains between Carlingford and Clyde from today until Saturday, 15 February.
Police have made a public appeal for witnesses of a hit and run in Rouse Hill in the wee hours of Sunday morning to come forward.
A 21-year-old man from Shalvey was struck on Windsor Road, near Mile End Road, at 2.50am on Sunday. He sustained ‘‘serious injuries’’ which are being treated at Westmead Hospital.
Police believe a taxi driver may be the culprit and have contacted taxi companies in their search for the other driver.
Monday morning is off to a slow start for motorists on the M4, with an earlier breakdown impacting traffic. Taking the Victoria Road might shave off a few minutes off the travel time.
Traffic is also moving slowly on eastbound lanes on the M5 in Prestons and Riverwood.
Heston Blumenthal Photo: Supplied
Culinary alchemist Heston Blumenthal has temporarily shut his exclusive, two-Michelin starred Dinner restaurant in London after an outbreak of a vomiting virus. More than 20 patrons and 20 staff members became ill.
The highly-contagious norovirus is the most common stomach bug in the United Kingdom. The celebrity chef will close Dinner for a week to ensure it is ‘‘completely safe and norovirus free’’. Public health authorities have instructed staff to wash their hands more often.
A meal for two can cost about $360, and signature dishes include the Meat Fruit recipe from $1500 - a chicken liver mousse made to look like a mandarin orange.
And on the front pages of other major papers:
The Australian Financial Review has detailed ASIC’s refusal to confirm whether controversial share trading by David Jones directors was acceptable, arguing it is not in their remit to judge unless there are grounds for legal action.
The Australian reports Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce has vowed to wage a ‘‘mighty battle’’ in cabinet to convince his colleagues to sign off on a $7 billion bailout of ‘‘distressed’’ farm loans and avert a ‘‘complete and utter financial meltdown’’.
And The Daily Telegraph reveals the NRL integrity unit is planning to confiscate player’s mobile phones on game day in a bid to crackdown on betting security on matches this season.
A 16-year-old boy allegedly stole goods at a supermarket and then stabbed a man multiple times in Maroubra, late on Sunday afternoon. He was caught by police with the help of the Police Dog Unit.
A 58-year-old man was taken to St Vincent's Hospital for treatment of non-life-threatening stab wounds to his back and leg.
The teenager has been refused bail and is to appear before the Children’s Court on Monday on charges including causing wounding/grievous bodily harm and robbery while armed with an offensive weapon.
Front page of The Sydney Morning Herald
The series of union corruption scandals in the past week has disillusioned voters, with the majority of people saying the Labor Party should distance itself from the broader union movement.
It will be very unwelcome news for Opposition leader Bill Shorten who led the Australian Workers Union for seven years.
The latest construction industry scandal - where corrupt companies bribed CFMEU officials for lucrative building contracts - has reportedly revived talk within the party about democratic reforms.
The Fairfax-ReachTEL poll showed men were more likely to agree that Labor should cut ties than women, and those aged over 65 were most likely to support the idea.