Sunday, January 01, 2012

Australia is in the midst of the biggest baby boom in its history

One wonders how many of these births are to "asylum seekers". I often see African ladies about the place trailed by several little kids

AUSTRALIA is in the midst of the biggest baby boom in our history. Final figures for 2011 are expected to show the number of births topping 300,000 eclipsing the 250,000 children born at the peak of the original baby boom in 1961. "These numbers are absolutely unprecedented," social researcher Mark McCrindle said.

And the rush of new arrivals will help the country hit another milestone in 2012, with the population reaching 23 million some time in July. Latest Australian Bureau of Statistics figures show Australia's population grew 1.4 per cent over the past year nearly one and a half times the global average.

"The debate over whether we want a big Australia or not is over, we're getting one," Mr McCrindle said. "Whether you like it or not, these are the numbers."

The most recent ABS data says a new Aussie is born every one minute and 47 seconds.

But women are waiting longer to have children, with the average age of mums rising from 29 to 30 between 2000 and 2009, according to a new report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.

"The proportion of mothers aged 35 and over also continues to rise up from 17.1 per cent in 2000 to 22.8 per cent in 2009," AIHW spokeswoman Associate professor Elizabeth Sullivan said.

The number of births has been accelerating for a decade now. The Howard government introduced the baby bonus payment in 2002 after the fertility rate hit an all-time low of 1.7 children per family in 2001. The fertility rate is now more than two.

Mr McCrindle, of McCrindle Research, said that had produced another trend, Tween Town, with record numbers of pre-teens aged eight to 12.

The children of Generation X, they were being raised differently as their parents reacted to the "cotton-wool kids, bubble-wrap generation, helicopter parenting" of their own upbringings. "We see this kind of pendulum in parenting," said Mr McCrindle. "Generation X are encouraging their kids to get outdoors more, go for the sleep-over, go on camp, expand their skills and horizons."

The ballooning at the bottom end of the age range is being mirrored at the other, as the original Baby Boomers reach retirement age. "We will have more 65th birthdays next year than we've ever seen in our history ... we're looking at more than 200,000 of them,"Mr McCrindle said.

With an ageing population and a record number of births, those in the middle will have their work cut out. "We're calling it the 'carer nation'," he said.

"There's a shortage of aged care and a shortage of child care, but the third carer issue is the home carer. If you take a Baby Boomer in their 60s, they might be looking after their grandkids a couple of days a week as their children work and their own ageing parents also need a lift to the doctor or some level of care.

"You have this massive and silent group of thousands, if not millions of people, with this care role. It saves the government billions of dollars and its not really recognised and respected."


Gillard government to throw more people onto the pension

Dependence on government encouraged rather than self-reliance in old age

NEW Federal Government superannuation rules could rob retirees of tens of thousands of dollars.

Projections calculated for The Sunday Mail show some of the nation's poorest workers will lose at least $32,000 by the time they retire - the equivalent of a round-the-world trip in today's dollars - under Gillard Government plans to slash payments under its co-contribution program.

Low-income workers were promised a retirement nest-egg boost from next year through tax cuts, adding about $35,000 to super funds.

But projections by financial advice veteran Noel Whittaker show that could be wiped out by changes in co-contribution rules from July 1. A 44-year-old part-time worker earning $25,000 a year who made an annual personal contribution of $1000 into a super fund could lose as much as $32,000 by retirement age, according to the forecast.

"All these changes make it less easy for people to provide for their own retirement," Mr Whittaker, of financial firm Whittaker Macnaught, said. "This further tinkering with the rules comes at a time when older workers are desperately trying to rebuild their super after the impact of the GFC. "Many older employees may have to work far longer than they planned."

From July, voluntary super fund contributions will not be matched dollar-for-dollar by the Federal Government. The Government will instead pay 50c for every dollar parked in super by workers and halve the maximum contribution entitlement to $500 a year. Thousands will become ineligible for the payments after the income test cut-off was slashed from $61,920 a year to $46,920 a year.

Soon-to-be retirees would also feel the pain of an extended freeze on the cap limiting the amount of cash they can throw into super to $25,000 a year.

Queensland Council of Social Service president Karyn Walsh feared the changes made it harder than ever for workers to understand their super.

SuperRatings managing director Jeff Bresnahan said it had gone too far in undoing overly generous Howard Government-era incentives.

Analysts expect only a mild improvement on this year's dismal super performance.

A spokesman for Workplace Relations Minister Bill Shorten said changes to the scheme would better target low-income earners through tax rebates.


Adelaide preachers testing free speech provisions

ADELAIDE'S controversial street preachers are taking their hate messages aboard city trains.

The preachers came to blows with drinkers this week after shouting their message to patrons at a Victor Harbor hotel. And now they want police to fine them for their behaviour on trains so they can challenge free speech laws in court.

Members of Street Church Adelaide have polarised the community in recent years with vocal Friday night protests in Rundle Mall in which they shout slogans at passing shoppers such as "you are all sinners and will be killed by God".

Preachers spokesman Caleb Corneloup said the group had been taking their message aboard city trains over the past fortnight in an effort to spread their word further.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Transport said police had been called to remove preachers from trains on the Noarlunga line in two separate incidents on December 21.

Transit staff reported that two male preachers were "abusing" passengers with slogans such as "homosexuals are sinners and women are all sinners" while the third recorded the incident on a mobile phone.

Police met the train as it arrived at Adelaide railway station and the preachers left the train.

"Preaching on public transport is of concern to the Department, as it would be likely to cause discomfort for customers on board and in prescribed areas such as stations," the spokeswoman said. "In the event of such an incident, the Department will consider the options available under the Passenger Transport Act."

The spokeswoman said fines could be issued by either police or Passenger Service Assistants.

Mr Corneloup said no fines had been imposed as yet, but he was eager for police to issue a member with an expiation notice so they could challenge the laws in a criminal court. "I think if a police officer issues a fine that is the best way to do it, so that we can test the laws in front of a magistrate," he said.

Mr Corneloup denied preachers were hassling commuters and claimed their methods aboard trains were conducted in a "more gentlemanly" way than the Rundle Mall gatherings. "It is a really good environment for preaching," Mr Corneloup said. "You have got a captive audience and it is much easier to get your message across. You are able to preach in a lower voice."

The preachers challenged a ruling by Adelaide City Council that the gatherings were unlawful. In August, the Full Court of the Supreme Court ruled they had a right to continue their controversial sermons. Mr Corneloup said the previous court ruling gave him confidence his group had every right to preach on public transport.

Public transport regulations stipulate people cannot act in a manner that "is likely to interfere with the comfort of, or disturb or annoy, another person". "Let's say you had a really smelly guy come on the train," Mr Corneloup said. "His presence could be annoying or interfering with someone else's comfort but does the law extend to that? I don't think so."

While the group's Rundle Mall preaching has sparked clashes between group members and pro-gay rights protesters, Mr Corneloup said few people had objected to their presence on trains.

"Almost everyone just sits and listens," he said. "One or two people out of the blue might say they don't want to hear about religion but there have been no real problems."

People for Public Transport SA spokeswoman Margaret Dingle said while the organisation had no formal policy about preaching on trains, she was concerned commuters may be unnecessarily bothered.

"It is a difficult issue because people have the right to put their point of views across, but they should not do it in such a way that bothers other passengers," Ms Dingle said.


Furore over government-funded dentistry

A CLAMPDOWN on the $750 million-a-year Medicare dental scheme has been recommended by a new study, which found dentists were overservicing patients by providing a high number of expensive treatments under the scheme.

The Medicare Chronic Dental Disease Scheme, which provides $4250 worth of dental treatment every two years to people with a chronic disease, is at the centre of a political storm.

The government claims the scheme has been rorted, and for three years it has been trying to axe it to pay for a funding injection into state public dental services, a move that has been repeatedly blocked by the Senate.

The Greens, who have demanded an increase in public dental funding as a condition of their support for the minority government, want Labor to expand the scheme. Within five years they want Medicare to pay for dental care for all Australians whether or not they have a chronic illness.

A study by the University of Sydney and Westmead Centre for Oral Health published in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health suggests the government may be correct in saying patients are getting services they do not need under the Medicare scheme. "Indirect restorations including bridges do, at first sight, appear over-represented, and also account for a high proportion of cost," the authors say.

About a third of the money spent under the scheme went on dentures and a further 30 per cent was spent on crown and bridge work, the study found.

Few dentists were giving oral hygiene advice to patients under the scheme with just 14.7 per cent of patients getting such education. To stamp out overservicing and spare taxpayers, the authors suggest the government implement a pre-approval process for expensive crown and bridge dental work.

This would ensure the services are provided for dental health, not cosmetic purposes. Similar regulation worked in dental services paid for by the department of Veterans Affairs, the study said.

The study calls for clear clinical guidelines on the suitability of crown and bridgework to curb abuse of the scheme.

Sydney University dental expert Hans Zoellner, study co-author, says the government had refused to properly regulate the scheme because it wanted to discredit it so it could close it down. The study found 1.8 per cent of Australians had used the scheme between 2007 and 2009 and the average cost of treatment per patient was about $1800, well below the $4250 payment threshold.

A separate study last month found the cost of treatment per patient had fallen 45 per cent from September 2008 to $1201 in September this year as those who needed initial costly treatment moved into "maintenance mode".

New Health Minister Tanya Plibersek vowed to reform the scheme, saying it was unfair millionaires with a chronic illness could get $4250 in treatment, but low-income earners without a health problem missed out.


1 comment:

Paul said...

Free speech. Sure, just so long as I can stand outside a church and yell at everybody that they are deluded idiots with no capacity for critical thinking, and they don't complain because they respect my right to freedom of speech.

(I don't actually believe that, but whats good for the....etc).