Friday, May 02, 2014

Rich families should have to pay to attend public schools, report says

Ms.Buckingham seems unusually addle-headed over this.  She wants more money to go to State schools and then says more money will not help.  I have read the full report here and she makes no argument for the big policy change other than "They can afford it".  Brain-dead Leftism

High-income families should pay to send their children to a public school, according to a new report that warns that continually increasing funding to schools over the past 25 years has done nothing to improve student achievement.

The Centre for Independent Studies report says charging $1000 for each student at a public school who comes from a family with an income of more than $130,000 would allow governments to reduce the amount they fund many schools.

"There would be little incentive for government schools to charge fees if it meant an equal transfer from public to private revenue, however if public funding were reduced as a proportion of private funding, it may be an attractive option," the report said.

But David Zyngier, a senior lecturer in education at Monash University, warned that charging middle class parents to send their children to public schools would drive more into the independent sector.

"This is just another ruse to force middle-class families out of the public school system," Dr Zyngier said.

The report's author, Jennifer Buckingham, said there was no immediate budget crisis but continually pouring more money into schools was not delivering obvious benefits and federal and state governments would need to rein in spending in the next decade.

"If one family made a donation of, say, $1000 to their children's public school, they probably wouldn't see a great deal of difference in what the school can provide.

"However, if quite a number of parents do, then all of a sudden you do see quite a substantial sum being available for that school to add to programs or their facilities," Dr Buckingham said.

"High-income families living in high-income areas in cities have access to some of the best public schools in Australia but they are not required to contribute to those schools."

Dr Buckingham said she was not "beating up some budget crisis or emergency" but one could emerge if spending continued to rise.

"A pretty consistent finding in Australia and internationally is that there is no relation between the amount of funding that goes into schools systems and the level of student achievement in that system," Dr Buckingham said.

"We need to stop expecting that if we spend more every year, it will start to pay off because history suggests this is not the case - so we really need to look at the way the school funding is being spent and ask if it is being spent productively."

Dr Buckingham said governments could also make considerable savings if they removed mandatory class size maximums.  "It is a very costly program without a great pay-off," Dr Buckingham said.

But Dr Zyngier said extensive research [Examples please!]  showed smaller class sizes had a profound effect on students throughout their school lives and they also had a significant impact for disadvantaged students.

Dr Buckingham's report said government funding for schools had more than doubled in real terms over the past 25 years, while enrolments had grown by only 18 per cent and funding for schools as a proportion of GDP had grown from 2.6 per cent to 3.1 per cent over the same period.


Australia's minimum wage too high

It's roughly double the U.S. rate

The Commission of Audit has recommended a drastic cut to the minimum wage, and a radical overhaul of the national system.

The minimum wage is now $622.20 a week, which is 56 per cent of average weekly earnings.

But the commission wants to cut the minimum wage to about $488.90 a week, which is 44 per cent of average weekly earnings.

It wants to phase the change in over 10 years.

The commission says the new lower minimum wage should then be used as a "minimum wage benchmark” and states and territories should be able to set their own minimum wages – using the benchmark as a guide – to compete against each other for labour and business.

The proposal attacks the very idea of a national minimum wage.

"Having a single national minimum wage disadvantages workers attempting to gain a job in states like Tasmania and South Australia where wages and the costs of living are generally lower than in other states,” the report says.

"The commission recommends that a different minimum wage apply in each jurisdiction.”

Since there are big differences in economic conditions in each state, the wage rates in each state ought to be able to match conditions, the report argues.

"There are wide differences in wage rates between states. While the minimum wage is around 45 per cent of the Australian Capital Territory average weekly earnings, it is around 65 per cent of average weekly earnings in Tasmania,” it says.

It proposes that the minimum wage in each jurisdiction be equal to the minimum wage benchmark by 2023.

After that, the wage in each state could then increase in line with growth in that jurisdiction’s average weekly earnings.

But one question ought to be asked.

Why has the Commission of Audit touched the minimum wage at all, when it has little to do with government spending?

Well, the commission has allowed itself to do so by nesting it with government payments and assistance for the unemployed, such as Newstart and the Youth Allowance.

It argues that, if minimum wages are lowered, then more people will find work, particularly younger people, and that will mean the cost of government unemployment assistance will fall, therefore reducing government expenditure.

But it has not produced a figure showing how much the government can expect to save from the changes.

The commission has also recommended that, rather than have the Fair Work Commission set the minimum wage, the setting of the minimum wage ought to become an "administrative process”, possibly set by the Department of Employment.

And the commission has also recommended big changes to income support payments.

It argues that, if the level of income support is too close to the minimum wage, then people will lack the incentive to look for work.

It therefore recommends increasing the income test withdrawal rate to 75 per cent for Newstart recipients and other related allowances.

It has also recommended that single people aged 22 to 30 without dependents or special exemptions should have to relocate to higher employment areas if they don’t want to lose access to benefits after a period of 12 months on benefit.


Audit recommends cutting back school funding, increasing university fees

The Abbott government's Commission of Audit has recommended sweeping changes to education policy, including winding back the Commonwealth's responsibilities for schools, abolishing all Commonwealth vocational education programs and making university students contribute a greater share of their education costs.

The report, released on Thursday, recommends the Commonwealth hand complete control of the non-government school sector to state governments, returning to the model in place before the 1970s.

The Commonwealth’s sole responsibility would be providing three separate, non-transferable funding pools for public, independent and Catholic schools.

The report echoes the Abbott government's policy not to proceed with the fifth and sixth years of the Gonski school funding package - the two years with the biggest forecast spending increases. Describing the new school funding arrangements as "complex, inconsistent and [lacking] transparency", the report recommends basing future Commonwealth funding on 2017 levels, adjusting them to the Commonwealth Price Index and Wage Price Index.

These changes would allow significant cuts to the Commonwealth Department of Education.

In the higher education sector, the report argues students should bear more of the cost of their education.

University graduates should pay an average 55 per cent of their higher educations costs - up from the current level of 41 per cent, according to the Commission of Audit recommendations. The Commonwealth's share of funding would fall from an average of 59 per cent to 45 per cent, recognising the high private benefit to a university degree.

The Minister for Education should also consider a full or partial deregulation of university fees to increase competition among universities.

As well as paying more, graduates would be required to pay their debts back sooner. The report recommends students begin repaying their Higher Education Loan Programme (HELP) debt when they start earning $32,354 – the minimum wage - rather than the current $51,309.

The generous interest rate for student loans – currently pegged to the Consumer Price Index - would rise to a level that reflects the full cost to the Commonwealth, including the cost of bad debts.

The report also recommends the federal government transfer all policy and funding responsibilities for vocational education to the states. All Commonwealth vocational education and training programs – including support for apprenticeships – would be scrapped.


Queensland Government to remove double jeopardy laws

The man accused of one of Queensland’s most shocking murders could be retried under proposed changes to the state’s double jeopardy laws.  Police would be able to again pursue former RAAF recruit Raymond Carroll for the alleged abduction, rape, and strangling death of Ipswich toddler Deidre Kennedy.

The 17-month-old’s body was found on the roof of a toilet block 41 years ago, about 500 metres from the family home.

Despite being twice found guilty of the murder, Mr Carroll still walks free after three successful appeals on legal technicalities, including the notion of double jeopardy.

Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie wants to overturn the 800-year-old law which he says is a roadblock to justice.

Despite other jurisdictions removing double jeopardy years ago, in Queensland a person can only face trial twice for the same or similar offence if they convicted after 2007.  Mr Bleijie will introduce legislation next week to make it totally retrospective.

Technological advances and DNA testing mean murderers who have escaped punishment may finally be jailed.

"This is about re-balancing the scales of justice and putting victims first," he said. "It certainly won’t open the floodgates."

Queensland homicide victims’ support group Ross Thompson knows three cases that could be reopened.He’s spoken to one victim’s family who broke down and hung up over the news.

"It never goes away," he said.  "They’ve lost a loved one, it’s been through the open courts and it’s still an open case. "Justice is blind sometimes. It is gong to open up a lot of cans of worms."

In the past, Queensland Labor had rejected retrospective laws. "If this government has a new proposal, their must be full consultation," Opposition Leader Annastacia Palaszczuk said.

"I think it will open the flood gates for a whole lot of other matters, so let’s just wait and see what their bill actually proposes."

Police Minister Jack Dempsey said technological advancements opened up new avenues for evidence-gathering for past offences and that evidence should not be discounted.

 "If we can change a piece of legislation that puts a person before the court that, through due process, is able to find a person guilty of a horrific offence, then I think that’s justice served,” he said.

Deputy Police Commissioner Ross Barnett said he welcomed the change.

"I think anything that gives the opportunity for police to deliver justice to the families of loved ones, even if it has to be delayed, is better than being frustrated by laws that were drafted centuries ago,” he said.

The Caxton Legal Centre, which offered free legal advice, says the double jeopardy protection is a fundamental human safeguard against oppression by the state.

"The announcement show how vulnerable age-old rights are to the legislative whim of government," Dan Rogers from the Centre said.

It will result in an increased risk for a miscarriage of justice by allowing the prosecution to have repeated trials, Mr Rogers said.

Furthermore, defendants, having already endured a lengthy and costly trial, may not have the stamina or the resources to effectively face a second trial.


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