Thursday, December 03, 2015
Government contributions to private schools
This is a hoary Leftist whine below. Typically of Leftism it looks only at superficialities. The underlying point that parents who send their children to private schools relieve the public sector from educating them is overlooked. That is a big saving for the public system so the Australian Federal government reimburses the private schools part of what their kids would have drawn from the public system. Monica seems unaware of that point -- a point that is something of a "third rail" in Australian politics -- As Biffo Latham discovered when he tried to cut it back. It is in other words fair and seen as fair
American conservatives would wonder at Australia's system. Where they struggle to get voucher programs going, the Australian Federal government has for decades done the equivalent. They directly give all private schools substantial taxpayer money! And that gives wider choice. Where such programs get up in America, it mostly means parents get the chance of sending their kid to a poor Catholic school. In Australia you can send your kid to the top private school in town and only pay part of the costs. So 40% of Australian teens in fact go to a private High School
It is a myth that elite private schools are entitled to all the bells and whistles they enjoy because parents have paid for them. This quickly falls apart if you think about it. Private schools receive huge sums of money from the public purse; very nearly as much money as government schools. If that money was being used to keep struggling private schools afloat, then it might be justified. But in many cases it is in fact used to fund the educational "excellence" that we hear about in private school advertising campaigns – state-of-the-art sports grounds, pools, outstanding facilities of every kind. As commentator Jane Caro recently observed, one school is now providing on-site baristas, subsidised by our taxes.
The myth that underpins this – that parents are simply making a choice, and are themselves funding that choice – serves to obscure the gross inequality at the heart of our education system. The implication is that parents who send their kids to state schools should stop complaining about the under-resourced, overcrowded public system because they have chosen it. They weren't willing to pay, so their kids deserve what they get.
As a teenager I was acutely aware of this divide. It was first pointed out to me in grade 6, when one of my classmates informed me that the high school I'd be attending was a "dog school", the crap Catholic school where no one really wanted to send their kids. She, on the other hand, was going to the superior private school with hats, pressed uniforms and various state-of-the-art facilities.
Naturally, I was upset by the revelation that my school was for canines, as I'd naively assumed that my parents had chosen to send me there because it was closer to our home. But my classmate's spitefulness put me in my place, reminding me where I was from and what my parents could afford.
I don't know whether my nasty classmate got a better education than I did, but I'm pretty sure she would have come away with a greater sense of entitlement, and the self-confidence that typically goes with it. For entitlement grows naturally out of the myth that justifies the system. Her parents paid for her superior education, made sacrifices to afford it, so she was entitled to the benefits that it brought her.
Yet once you recognise that the taxpayer is footing a very substantial part of the bill, and that elite private schools are effectively siphoning away funds that could have gone into the state system, you see the equation very differently. Far from being entitled to anything, children who benefit from expensive private educations are in fact indebted to the ordinary taxpayers who subsidised their swimming complexes and their baristas. It's everyone else who made the sacrifice – sending their kids to underfunded state schools, while the private sector hogged the education dollar.
As we grow older most of us stop believing in myths such as citizen's arrest. When will Australia grow up and see through the education myths that are doing a disservice to all our children?
$1,300 bonus offered as part of Queensland public servant pay offer
So what did they do to earn a bonus? Support the ALP of course. They did nothing else. At the time it was elected, it was said that the Palaszczuk government would be in the pocket of the unions and now we see evidence of it
Public servants will receive a $1,300 cash bonus under a pay offer from the Queensland Government.
Treasurer Curtis Pitt said the Government had reached an in-principle agreement with 48,000 state employees and key unions.
But the bonus will not be paid before Christmas, as the deal must still be ratified by a union ballot, due early next year.
The revised wage offer is for a 2.5 per cent annual pay rise over the next three years.
Mr Pitt described the agreement as financially responsible, saying the bonus was back pay to compensate for the stall in wage negotiations under the LNP government.
"There's no magic or voodoo to this, this is essentially a process that we've tried to reach an in-principle settlement on before going to arbitration," he said.
"If this doesn't work, we go back to the drawing board and continue to negotiate, or alternatively it becomes an arbitrated matter.
"This isn't [as] though we're shelling out bonus payments left, right and centre here."
Mr Pitt said the offer was a reward for public servants "forced to endure three years of intransigence and attacks on their pay and conditions from the LNP".
"It's hardly surprising Campbell Newman and the LNP were unable to secure a replacement agreement given they were busy sacking public sector employees and cutting services.
"The LNP denied Queensland core public servants any pay rises for 16 months but the good news is that there's relief in sight prior to the Christmas break."
He said public servants would now get appropriate pay for their efforts.
"That's something I think all Queenslanders will support."
Australia's astonishing economy does it again
24 years of continued economic growth. But the doomsayers never stop. I suppose they think they have got to be right some day
Australian economic growth accelerated in the September quarter of 2015, increasing 0.9% leaving the annual rate of growth at 2.5%. Markets has been expecting a quarterly increase of 0.8%, with the annual rate ticking up to 2.4%.
The increase extends Australia’s phenomenal economic record, having not experienced a technical recession – two consecutive quarters of negative economic growth – since the June quarter of 1991.
That’s not a bad performance at all – 24 years of continued economic growth through period of turmoil such as the Asian and global financial crises.
The largest contribution to economic growth during the quarter came from exports of goods and services, up 4.6%, contributing 1.0 percentage points to the final growth figure. Imports fell by 2.4%, contributing 0.5 percentage points to growth.
The ABS note that the increase in exports was concentrated in commodities, which reflected strong growth in mining activity having been impacted by adverse weather conditions during the June quarter.
Household final consumption expenditure, the largest part of the Australian economy, increased 0.7% which contributed 0.4 percentage points to the quarterly GDP increase. Government consumption expenditure rose by a similar margin, contributing 0.1 percentage points to growth.
Gross fixed capital formation, both from the public and private sectors, partially offset the positive contributions to GDP listed above, largely due to weak mining and non-mining business investment and a reversal in government investment following a temporary boost military expenditure seen in the June quarter.
For the private sector, non dwelling construction dipped 5.3%, detracting 0.4 percentage points from growth, while machinery and equipment spending slid 4.6% in line with the weak business capital expenditure report released late last week. It detracted 0.2 percentage points from growth.
Public sector investment dropped 9.2% on the back of a fall in military spending, slicing 0.4 percentage points from the final GDP figure.
Elsewhere inventories subtracted 0.1 percentage points.
Some advantages of living in "The lucky country"
I'm thankful, for instance, that I live in a country where unemployment is lower than almost any other place on the planet. Even if you exclude the developing world, we still do better than Canada, France, New Zealand, Britain and the US. And significantly better if you include other Western nations such as Greece and Spain where a quarter of the population still cannot get a job. Joblessness is a brutal experience but I'd rather it happen to me here than almost anywhere else.
And let's say that, after spending time in the unemployment queue, the best job I could find was one that paid only the minimum wage. I'm really thankful it'd be a minimum wage determined by an Australian commissioner, since ours is more generous than any other in the OECD. We pay nearly 13 per cent more than Ireland, 52 per cent more than the US, and 844 per cent more than Mexico.
While I'm at work, I'm extremely thankful there's a lower chance of being injured because workplaces here are governed by robust occupational health and safety laws. People working elsewhere aren't as fortunate. Our rate of workplace accidents is half that of Canada and Portugal, and almost a third of what Spanish employees endure. In terms of fatalities, our rate is 3.2 deaths for every 100,000 workers. In the US it's 5.2, in Canada it's 6.4, in Morocco it's 47.8.
I'm also thankful that my colleagues are more likely to love their work, to feel connected to their employer and to be innovative, all of which are encapsulated by the term "engagement". Levels of engagement are 50 per cent higher here than in Canada, and 2½ times greater than they are in France, the Netherlands, South Africa and Indonesia. Things get really bad in places like China (we're 400 per cent more engaged) and Croatia (800 per cent).
I'm thankful, too, that Australia is an incredibly fertile ground for the launch and growth of new businesses. Sydney, for example, ranks 16th on the list of the world's most start-up-friendly cities. That ranking is determined not only by the performance of start-ups but also by the funding they attract and the talent they employ. In regards to the annual growth in seed funding, we're second in the world – ahead of London, New York, Tel Aviv, Singapore, Paris and Silicon Valley.
Let's also take a look at productivity. The measure preferred by the OECD is the amount of GDP generated by every hour we work. Using that model, we're more productive than Britain and the European Union. In comparison with our friends across the Tasman, our productivity is almost 50 per cent higher.
So, are any of my comments a reason to become complacent? No. And have I cherry-picked only the most favourable statistics to tell a good story? Yep.