Sunday, June 12, 2016

Australian governments have failed children: UNICEF report

This is mostly nonsense.  The key to seeing that lies in the number of countries surveyed.  Why only 37?  No mystery at all. If countries where children REALLY get a hard time were included, the list would be swamped by African and Muslim countries -- and we can't have that, can we?  That would be RACIST!  So this whole effort is flawed and dishonest from the beginning and mostly consists of nit-picking.  There is no way that governments can see that all children are treated well.  They try but inevitably hit the rock of uncaring bureaucracy

And in Australia, the way Aborigines live will always inflate statistics of abuse.  Aboriginal men do indeed knock their women and children around at a great rate.  Governments of all sorts have tried to ameliorate that using all sorts of strategies but with no success.  Very intrusive intervention might have some effect but that too would be RACIST!  You can't win

UNICEF research shows poverty is growing in Australia and the gap between children at the bottom and those in the middle is widening.

A landmark study into the rights of Australian children has delivered a scathing assessment, accusing successive governments of failing to support the country's most vulnerable young people.

The report found state and federal governments have repeatedly breached the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child over the past 25 years and would continue to do so.

The study from the Australian Child Rights Taskforce, an organisation comprising more than 100 groups including UNICEF Australia and the National Children's and Youth Law Centre, highlighted the fact that one in six Australian children still lives in poverty despite two decades of economic growth.
One in six Australian children still lives in poverty despite two decades of economic growth.

A former chief justice of the Family Court of Australia and chairman of Children's Rights International, Alastair Nicholson, said Australian governments had repeatedly ignored the rights of young people, despite agreeing to the UN Convention in 1990.

"This report makes it clear that since the early 1990s, successive Australian governments have consistently breached the Convention on the Rights of the Child and show every intention of continuing to do so," he wrote in the Child Rights Progress Report.

"This is an unacceptable situation and one about which all Australians should be concerned."

The evaluation found 70,000 children received support from homelessness organisations, 43,000 lived in out-of-home care and young asylum seekers were spending an average of 457 days in detention facilities.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children were over-represented in out-of-home care and were 26 times more likely to be in juvenile detention.

"The present report makes it clear that these and many other deficiencies have not been remedied and in many ways the situation may have even worsened," Mr Nicholson said.

"It highlights a failure in public policy development to consider the impact on children and build preventative measures."

The report, to be released at the Australian Human Rights Commission on Friday, acknowledged governments had made steps to reduce family violence, address problems in the child protection system and improve early childhood education and care.

UNICEF Australia chief executive Adrian Graham said the report showed life was "not getting any easier" for a significant group of young people. "Australia is not the lucky country for many children," he said.

"The report is a clear reminder that Australia must place equity at the heart of our agenda for children, with the idea that no child should be left behind."

UNICEF research released in April showed Australia ranks 27th out of 35 in health equality outcomes among OECD countries and 24th out of 37 in education equality results.

The Child Rights Progress Report made wide-ranging recommendations on child protection, poverty, education, health and the criminal justice system.



Federal election 2016: Labor’s late retreat over budget fix

A spectacular Labor backflip has given the Coalition an edge in the  crucial election fight on ­budget management as Bill ­Shorten ­retreats on his longstanding ­rejection of controversial cuts and admits the need for tougher ­savings.

The Opposition Leader has backed down on cuts to family payments at a critical point in the election campaign, conceding ground to the Coalition in a battle over budget repair that has dom­inated federal politics since the global financial crisis.

The belated savings will still leave Mr Shorten at least $7 billion behind Malcolm Turnbull in the effort to balance the budget, confirming that a Labor government would post bigger deficits over the next four years and incur greater debt. Scott Morrison went on the ­attack over Labor’s “fan­tasies” as Mr Shorten tried to justify bigger deficits over four years by using less reliable 10-year forecasts to hold out the prospect of bigger savings.

In another warning sign for Mr Shorten’s campaign, Labor sources told The Weekend Australian the party was struggling in the “must-win” seats across western Sydney that will help decide if the Coalition holds on to power.

Labor is putting more resources into its own seats of Werriwa, Parramatta and Greenway, where the Coalition’s confidence is growing, while the Labor team is far from certain about taking the seat of Barton — previously considered a certain Labor win.

Sources in both the Labor and Liberal camps believe the ­Coalition will hold the seats of Reid, Lindsay and Banks, signalling the challenge for the opposition in securing the powerful swing needed to topple the government.

Labor has now given ground on several major reforms that can be traced back to the May 2014 federal budget, including changes to the Age Pension and to family tax benefits, as well as the abolition of the Schoolkids Bonus.

Tony Abbott last night told The Weekend Australian that Mr Shorten’s backflip on savings measures was evidence that Labor had engaged in “fiscal sabotage” over the past two years.

“If Labor had behaved responsibly two years ago we would be billions of dollars closer to budget repair,” Mr Abbott said.

“These are good measures and should be passed in the Senate.”

Labor spending on health and education will prevent Mr Shorten matching the Coalition’s ­bottom line, despite the attempt yesterday to persuade voters that Labor could be trusted to regain control of the budget after presiding over deficits when last in power.

In its biggest retreat, Labor ­accepted the need for further cuts to family tax benefits after holding out against the changes since the May 2014 budget, although it put forward an alternative way to scale back the payments. The Labor proposal would halve the Family Tax Benefit Part A annual supplement for families earning more than $100,000 a year, a hit to 137,000 households that stops short of deeper cuts under ­Coalition policy.

With the Coalition proposing a complete halt to the supplement but offering a $5 boost to the weekly payment rate, Labor claimed yesterday that a family with an ­income of $110,000 and three young children would still be $300 better off overall under a change of government.

“We’re committed to improving the bottom line of the national budget without smashing household budgets,” Mr Shorten ­declared yesterday. “We will make sure that we reach balance in the same time as the government and our trajectory to improve and tackle government debt over 10 years will be a superior proposition to the government.”

Both Labor and the Coalition now promise a budget surplus in 2021 but neither has delivered on past pledges, as economists warn that tougher action will be needed after the election to bring the structural deficit under control.

Labor’s new savings include $180.2m from scrapping the ­private health insurance rebate for natural therapies, $101m from increasing fines for crimes under commonwealth law, $83.5m from scaling back the New Colombo Plan to send students to Asia and $83.6m from the scrapping of an “innovation exchange” within the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

In a move that could spark another backlash from business, Labor will save $117.4m by scaling back the Industry Growth Centres that are part of the government’s innovation policy and aim to get researchers working more closely with companies. It will also raise $23.5m by imposing a higher fee on listed companies that file court claims in the Federal Court, ruling that bigger companies should pay 1.5 times the regular fee.

A costings fight exploded when the Treasurer dismissed Labor’s claims about the scale of its savings by arguing the tax increases and spending cuts would not be enough to cover the cost of spending decisions on schools and Medicare. “At the end of the day Bill Shorten keeps digging a hole on his spending, and the hole gets deeper and deeper,” Mr Morrison said. “What they announced today doesn’t cover it, it doesn’t come close to covering it, and so the Australian people, I think, are faced with a very straightforward choice. They can vote for Labor and vote for higher deficits and higher debt, or they can support the government’s economic plan which will keep us on that positive trajectory towards a budget balance by 2021 based on the current assumptions around the parameters.”

The latest budget update forecasts deficits of $84.1bn over the next four years. Labor has acknowledged its deficits will be bigger than this, but it will not reveal the final costings until the last week of the campaign. The government claimed last night Labor policies would widen the deficits over the next four years by $15.5bn.


Leftist Premier of Victoria bulldozes all opposition in order to privilege his union mates

He wants the union to have complete control over Victoria's country fire-fighters

PREMIER Daniel Andrews has brutally cut down all opposition to a union takeover of the CFA, sacking its board and forcing the resignation of Emergency Services Minister Jane Garrett.

In a day of drama that saw the state’s volunteer firefighters granted an emergency Supreme Court injunction to stop the government ramming through the workplace agreement:

THE CFA board was given an ­ultimatum to sign by 5pm and was then sacked, despite the ­injunction barring it from signing until June 22.

CFA chief executive Lucinda Nolan is now also facing the sack, given her steadfast refusal to support the agreement.

She and the CFA’s leaders said they were “deeply saddened” the board was canned. “CFA will continue to work with the government and the UFU to find a solution to the enterprise bargaining agreement;, however, it will not and cannot sign an agreement which is ­unlawful,” the CFA said.

Deputy Premier James Merlino, who was given Ms Garrett’s ministerial job, gave the CFA until 5pm on Friday to support the deal.

When the board refused, Mr Merlino said he had lost confidence in its ability to end the dispute and moved to sack it. A new board will be appointed soon, which could then fire Ms Nolan. Mr Andrews said his Cabinet unanimously backed the “fair and balanced” agreement — even though Ms Garrett was forced to resign before Friday’s crisis meeting.

She tweeted that it had been an “extraordinary privilege” to serve as Emergency Services Minister, a role she left “with a heavy heart”. The Premier claimed all Ms Garrett’s concerns were addressed, but could not explain why she had to quit.

Mr Andrews said his government had developed “safeguards” for all “outstanding matters” including the union’s veto rights, diversity issues and the “seven on the fireground” policy.

He said letters of intent and good-faith agreements would be set up between the CFA and the United Firefighters Union, with Emergency Management Commissioner Craig Lapsley to oversee the deal’s ­implementation.

“Significant ground has been given, absolute clarification has been provided,” Mr Andrews said.

“That’s why I am putting this before the people of Victoria as a fair and balanced deal, and a deal that gets this done, so that we can end this bitter dispute.

“I proudly say to every Victorian, my government makes sure that more firefighters turn out to dangerous fires. If I’m criticised for that, well so be it.”

But the CFA said it was unable to sign the deal. It released advice from the government’s own Crown counsel which said the deal breached equal opportunity laws and would be discriminatory.

“In addition, there remain 14 threshold issues that CFA cannot agree to, including the clauses which give the UFU 50 vetoes over CFA’s legislated responsibilities,” the CFA said.

Opposition Leader Matthew Guy slammed Mr Andrews as a “vengeful bully” who was “almost unfit to hold office”.

He said the Premier was “smashing up the CFA” and that his safeguards for the EBA had “no weight legally”.

“If they (Labor) can’t get their way, they simply sack the board, put in a patsy and start again,” Mr Guy said.

Mr Andrews said he did not want to the dispute to drag into the fire season.


A mother's desperate plea "our poor baby boy is too young to be immunised."

Only "herd immunity" could have protected him -- but anti-vaxxers have largely destroyed that.  If EVERYBODY were immunized there would be no source from which a baby might catch it

Huge, deep scabs. Red, angry-looking open wounds. White, flaky skin. All clustered on the face of a sweet, 11-month-old baby.

The mother of baby Elijah Burke, Kayley Burke, has shared images of her ill little boy as a warning to other parents about what can happen if they choose not to vaccinate their kids.

“Vaccinate your kids people. The pictures below show you exactly why,” Ms Burke, of Brisbane, wrote on Facebook.

“Our poor baby boy who is too young to be immunised has caught the chickenpox. It has almost been a week since they showed up. Today he was admitted to Ipswich Hospital with a secondary infection,” she added.

The photos, which have now been shared more than 55,000 times on Facebook, show a clearly uncomfortable child with sores extending from the top of his forehead to the bottom of his chin. Even the poor baby’s nostrils and eyelids appear infected.

His small hands are bound tightly, presumably to prevent him from scratching at his sores.

Ms Burke and her older daughter Kahlia have also contracted the condition, but Kahlia was vaccinated so she only has a few spots.

"Kaliah face [sic] is about as bad as she has it... Thank god she is immunised," Ms Burke wrote in a follow-up comment to her Facebook post, posting a photo to prove her point.

The horrifying images of Elijah's sores have attracted countless messages of sympathy.

"My heart's breaking for you guys,"wrote one Facebook friend.

"It's just horrible watching their tiny helpless bodies lying there and not been able to do anything about it."

"Holy sh** Kayley! This has gotten SO much worse! Wishing you guys a speedy recovery," wrote another.

Fortunately, Elijah has now been discharged from hospital, and now just needs to remain on antibiotics for a few more days.

"We are able to get a few smiles and a little giggle out of him which is amazing," Ms Burke wrote, sharing a photo of her little boy in a car seat, on his way home.  "Thank you everyone for your well wishes and thoughts, it has definitely been appreciated."

What is chickenpox, anyway?

Chickenpox, or Varicella, is a highly contagious infection caused by a member of the herpes group of viruses, according to the Department of Health.

While it's usually a mild disease that lasts a short time in healthy children, it can cause serious or even fatal complications in people of any age.

The highly contagious disease is spread through the air by coughing, sneezing or direct contact with people who are infected, according to the Department of Health.

"Vaccination has been highly effective in reducing varicella hospitalisations among young children in Australia," the department's website states. "Vaccination of children against chickenpox not only prevents serious disease in childhood, but also ensures immunity in adolescence and adulthood, when complications from the disease can have severe outcomes."


Australians must back company tax cuts to help Australia get ahead

This election, politics has obscured and distorted the facts that the community needs to know to properly appreciate the deep benefits we all gain from a strong businesses environment, including a more competitive business tax system.

Australia faces considerable challenges over the coming decades. These include our budgetary position, our ageing population, greater globalisation and technological changes.

Against this backdrop, we must take every opportunity to maintain, and indeed improve, on our high living standards – including the capacity to create better, higher paid jobs, and to fund high-quality health, education and other social services.

The simple reality is that strong businesses are critical to this.

Some of the discussion about business this election seems to assume that the business sector is somehow separate from the broader community. But the reality is that businesses – small, medium and large – are an integral part of the community too. Businesses employ people in the community, they provide the goods and services that the community wants, and they are a very real part of the communities in which they operate. It is business that many in the community depend on for their incomes, their way of life, and their futures.

Australian private businesses employ 80 per cent of all workers – around 10 million people. Almost five million Australians have investments in the share market and each Australian on average holds $23,000 in domestic equity through their membership of superannuation funds.

Businesses depend on each other too. There is around $440 billion in economic activity between businesses of all sizes in Australia each year. If you hold back one section of the business community you are effectively holding every business back.

Today our economy is struggling through a difficult transition. Non-mining business investment as a share of GDP is at a 50-year low. Productivity growth is weak. Global markets remain volatile.

Tradition buckles

Amid the economic uncertainty, the world in which all of our businesses are operating in is changing. Global supply chains where a product is designed and made in a dozen different countries are putting pressure on traditional business models. Technology is changing the way business is done. Capital and labour are increasingly mobile – they seek out the most competitive environment.

The reality is that in the modern global economy almost everything is tradeable on a world stage. A small business anywhere in the world can compete for business in Australia using the internet. Larger businesses with traditional stores are having to invest heavily in online trading and back-end logistics to stay competitive and keep up with what consumers of today want.

But our country does have breathtaking opportunities. More than half the world's population live in the neighbouring region to our north and north-west. Income growth in these countries is strong and is set to continue and with it demand for a range of goods and services is escalating. Australians and Australia's industries can participate in this historic "rise of the Asian middle class", but we need to ensure we are fit for purpose.

As always, success is not assured. Rather, to be successful as a country, our businesses and our workforce need to be internationally competitive and innovative with the capability and flexibility to respond to these challenges and these opportunities.

Standing still is not an option, because other countries are taking steps to rise to their own challenges and they are eyeing the same opportunities. We need to take the necessary steps to incentivise risk-taking and entrepreneurship and encourage greater investment, innovation and job creation in Australia.

It means taking action across a number of policy fronts – to enable agile workplaces of the future, to create a globally competitive tax system, to ensure regulation isn't holding back productivity and innovation. But tax settings are critical, and they are a controllable factor we can change now.

So let's look at some facts around why improving the competitiveness of our business tax arrangements is important.

The net benefits of more competitive business taxes are permanent and significant

Some have argued that the benefits of proposed company tax cuts do not justify the estimated 10-year revenue cost of $50 billion. They are effectively comparing apples and oranges.

First, they compare a cumulative ten-year cost with just one year of benefits. Second, they compare net benefits with gross revenue costs, which is not meaningful.

It is important to remember that Treasury's estimated benefit of 1 per cent of GDP (equivalent to $16 billion in today's economy) already includes the cost of a fully funded tax cut, as does the extra $4 billion of government revenue that flows from a bigger economy.

Moreover, once it kicks in it is a permanent uplift – year in, year out, GDP will be 1 per cent higher than otherwise. So, when the economy reaches $2 trillion in the future, the benefit is $20 billion in that year. And when it is $2.1 trillion, the economy's $21 billion bigger than otherwise. These gains will continue to accumulate.

There are also a range of other benefits including the technology, innovation and new ideas that come with new investment which are not captured in these estimates, but could be significant. History also shows that when business taxes have been lowered to be more competitive with other countries, Australia's corporate tax revenue as a proportion of GDP has actually grown over time due to the strong performance of Australian businesses.

In this context, a $50 billion tax switch is an investment in making Australia more competitive.

One of Australia's most successful reforms, National Competition Policy, is estimated to have delivered an extra $40 billion of economic benefit each and every year. This took a decade of comprehensive microeconomic reforms across federal and state governments, covering close to 1800 pieces of legislation. Against this benchmark, more competitive business taxes are simpler to implement and deliver a relatively big bang for the buck.

There have also been claims that our system dividend imputation confines the benefits to foreign shareholders. But this ignores the increased incentive to retain profits and invest in domestic companies. And the simple reality is that new investment – whether it comes from domestic or foreign sources – means a bigger business, newer machinery, better technology and more productive Australian enterprises. This provides the potential for stronger capital growth and higher dividends for domestic investors in the future.

The benefits of lower business taxes come from higher investment

The benefit of more competitive business taxes will come from businesses making decisions to invest more. We are confident of this from the thousands of businesses that our groups collectively represent.

Businesses invest when the expected rate of return from a new investment – whether that is buying new technology, building a mine or a manufacturing facility – adequately compensates investors for their capital and the risks involved.

Company taxes increase the required rate of return for investors to receive an adequate return after tax. The rate of return investors demand is largely set by returns available in global capital markets. If companies do not deliver competitive returns to investors, investors will quite simply put their money somewhere else. Looking at tax alone, we know that other countries present a much more competitive offering than Australia – the current average of competitors on our doorstop in Asia is 23 per cent compared to our 30 per cent.

For investors requiring a 10 per cent return on an equity investment, a company tax rate of 30 per cent would mean that a new project would have to deliver a pre-tax return of around 14 per cent. A 25 per cent tax would reduce this pre-tax threshold to about 13 per cent. Investment decisions are made at the margin and this will be enough to ensure that some investments that would not otherwise go ahead, will go ahead. This is why Treasury's modelling suggests you get a 2.6 per cent boost to investment over time.

Increased business investment lifts real wages

Businesses generally invest for one or more of three reasons – to expand existing operations, create new operations or to introduce new technology or equipment.

The first two will often involve hiring additional workers and depending on labour market conditions higher wages. The latter may involve new jobs but is more likely to involve the prospect of higher wages for existing staff as their skills combine with new technology to perform tasks more efficiently or to develop better products and services demanded by consumers. As they become more productive, they are paid more.

The Treasury analysis of a cut in the company tax rate to 25 per cent finds that real wages increase by 1.2 per cent (the equivalent of $8.5 billion), or the equivalent of adding 100,000 full-time jobs paying average wages to the economy.

Our recent experience with the resources boom is a fairly fresh reminder for all Australians that investment translates into jobs – the unemployment rate in 2008 was just 4 per cent. We also know that the Britain have cut their rate from 28 per cent to 20 per cent since 2010 among a range of reforms and they appear to be reaping the rewards – a record of inward investment projects last year creating almost 85,000 new jobs.

More competitive business taxes boost national incomes

Treasury and Independent Economics find a positive boost to national incomes, so what of the claim that despite increasing GDP and wages, reducing business taxes would actually detract from national incomes?

As it turns out this claim rests on an implausible assumption that investors will continue forever to accept lower after-tax returns from investing in Australia, rather than directing their investment to more competitive countries. From the perspective of our members who range from SMEs to large multinationals that are at the coalface of an intensely competitive global economy, this is a most unrealistic assumption.

Foreign tax arrangements don't undermine benefits from lower Australian business taxes

There have been suggestions that due to the United States' international tax laws, a reduced rate in Australia will simply see more top-up tax paid by Australian subsidiaries of US companies to the Internal Revenue Service in the US, delivering a revenue windfall for the US Government.

This analysis neglects the fact that the US only levies top-up taxes when Australian subsidiaries of US companies pay out profits as dividends, yet in practice much of the profit of these subsidiaries is retained right here in Australia, deferring tax payable in the US. This is why US companies will want to keep investing here with a lower company tax rate.

Is there a better alternative?

The criticisms levelled at proposed tax reforms do not seriously challenge the potential gains to be had, nor do they provide alternatives to address the challenges confronting our economy.

Those criticising policies to create a more competitive business environment need to answer how will we lift non-mining investment from its 50-year low, how will we fix the budget deficit without imposing a greater tax burden or relying on punitive spending cuts, and how will we support higher wages so our standard of living keeps pace with the world.

The case for a more competitive business tax rate to boost investment, growth and jobs stacks up on paper and in practice.

The business community is united that a strong business environment including more competitive business taxes are essential for Australia's future. Understanding that we are a community that prospers based on the strength of every business within the community, and on the relationships between businesses of all sizes is important.

Together, with the government and the community each doing its part, we can continue to ensure Australia's economy and the way of life of its people are the envy of the world.


Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).    For a daily critique of Leftist activities,  see DISSECTING LEFTISM.  To keep up with attacks on free speech see Tongue Tied. Also, don't forget your daily roundup  of pro-environment but anti-Greenie  news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH .  Email me  here

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