Friday, February 15, 2008

Amazing legacy of the Howard government

The Labor government hasn't done anything other than talk yet so this is all thanks to the previous government. Australian unemployment is markedly lower than the UK (5.3%) or the USA (4.9%)

THE unemployment rate dropped to a fresh 33-year low of 4.1 per cent in January, fuelling speculation of another interest rate hike. The unemployment rate fell to a seasonally-adjusted 4.1 per cent in January compared with 4.3 per cent in December and surpassing last September's 4.2 per cent trough, data released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) shows. The fall came as a further 26,800 jobs were created in the month, although full-time employment fell by 7,800.

Economists had expected total employment to rise by 15,000 and a steady jobless rate of 4.3 per cent. The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) has repeatedly said a tight labour market risked fuelling wage inflation. The central bank forecast earlier this week that underlying inflation - already at a 16-year high - will rise further in coming months. It expects the inflation rate will moderate thereafter, but stay at or above the top of the bank's two-to-three per cent target range until June 2010.

Such was the central bank's blunt warning on the inflation outlook and its expectation that interest rates will likely have to rise again, economists generally think it will lift rates next month.


A totally mismanaged public hospital

A QUEENSLAND hospital forced to close its cardio-thoracic unit due to staff infighting refused surgery to an Aboriginal man due to his race, it has been alleged. Surgical services at Townsville Hospital ceased last November, after doctors claimed patient lives were at risk because of feuding between staff. The state's Crime and Misconduct Commission (CMC) has been called in to investigate the infighting, as well as claims hospital management failed to properly intervene.

Opposition Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander partnerships spokesman Rob Messenger said he had heard serious allegations from hospital whistleblowers. They allege that an Aboriginal man was refused surgery because of his race, and a surgeon whose patient death rate was three times the national average was allowed to operate, while whistleblower doctors were not.

One whistleblower tried to meet with Health Minister Stephen Robertson 10 months before the unit's closure, but was refused, Mr Messenger said. He said an independent inquiry was needed to shield whistleblowers from "vindictive bureaucrats". "I've asked the CMC to support my call for an independent public inquiry ... in order to find out the truth, and to protect and engender confidence in whistleblowers and witnesses," Mr Messenger said.


Teacher cleared after slapping student

Good to hear that SOME effective discipline for unruly children is still possible

CORPORAL punishment has been banned in Queensland schools for 13 years, but a Gold Coast magistrate has ruled it is legal for a teacher to slap a student in the face. An assault charge against a Gold Coast high school teacher who admitted slapping a Year 8 student in class was thrown out yesterday after the magistrate accepted he was practising "domestic discipline" - a 109-year-old law that allows a teacher to use reasonable force "by way of correction, discipline, management or control".

Slapped student Aidan Pascoe's parents Wayne and Michelle were furious. Mrs Pascoe stormed out of court after the decision, describing it as "disgusting". "Now all teachers can go and slap anyone they want and get away with it," she said. Mr Pascoe said Aidan had been "denied an education" as a result of the incident. "I had to pull him out of school and he's now doing an apprenticeship," Mr Pascoe said.

He said that in the six months leading up to the slapping incident, he had asked the school several times to remove Aidan from Justin Ransfield's classes because of a "personality conflict". "It's a bloody joke. A teacher has no right to hit a kid in the face," he said.

Southport Magistrate's Court was told Upper Coomera State College teacher Mr Ransfield slapped Aidan in the classroom in December 2006 and told another student to lie about what happened. The court was told Mr Ransfield, 37, and Aidan, 14, clashed physically after the student disobeyed a direction to start work. They tapped each other on the face before Mr Ransfield gave Aidan what fellow students testified was "a loud and hard slap" which left a red mark.

Arguing for the charge to be dismissed, barrister Frank Martin said while the slap may have been outside teachers' guidelines, it was not unlawful. "'He (Mr Ransfield) knew what he did was wrong . . . but there is no law that a teacher or a parent cannot discipline a child by striking," Mr Martin said. Mr Martin said Aidan had a history of misbehaviour, having been suspended from school four times.

Magistrate Graeme Lee ruled that the domestic discipline provision of the Criminal Code did apply in the case and dismissed the charge. "The defendant, as a teacher in charge of a classroom full of pupils, is entitled to manage the class in an orderly fashion," Mr Lee said. Mr Ransfield was congratulated in the courtroom by a tearful woman and was hugged outside by a student. Outside court, he would only say: "One in three male teachers are leaving the profession and I'm about to join them. "


'Rich' schools hit back

PRIVATE school lobby groups have denied being "wealthy" or "elitist". Catholic and independent school chiefs have hit back at revelations of exactly how much in government subsidies Tasmania's richest schools are receiving each year. Tasmanian private schools -- which educate 26 per cent of the state's school students -- will receive $170 million from state and federal governments this year.

Catholic education director Dan White said parents at private schools were entitled to government funding because they paid tax. "Parents at Catholic schools, along with all other parents, contribute fully to the taxation system," Dr White said. "It is only right and equitable that these parents are supported in the education of their children by both federal and state governments."

Recent research also indicated that, far from being wealthy, more than half of Catholic primary schools in Tasmania served communities that nationally fell into the low or very low socio-economic profile. "Based on information from the 2006 Census, four out of every five students in Tasmanian Catholic schools are from middle or low-income families," Dr White said.

The Association of Independent Schools of Tasmania accused the Mercury of "fanning the fires of envy and division" by publishing the funding breakdown. "Far from costing the taxpayer money, they are in fact saving government around $5.5 billion -- the additional expenditure it would require to educate those students in government schools," executive director Tony Crehan said.

Australia has one of the highest rates of public funding of private education in the OECD (the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development). Federal funding for private schools will top $7 billion this year and is growing at three times the rate of funding for public schools. Among local schools, Friends' School will be given $6.4 million this year, The Hutchins School $4.3 million and St Michael's Collegiate $3.8 million. The Federal Government has vowed to review funding after it was revealed that private schools would receive overpayments of $2.7 billion over the next four years.


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