Thursday, September 08, 2016

Teachers are still whining about Federal funding of private schools

This has been going on since the days of Bob Menzies! Over 50 years ago

For many decades the Federal Government has been the primary government funder of non-government schools in Australia, while states and territories fund 85 per cent of government schools.

This is a long established fact and for the Australian Education Union to express surprise or alarm at this ongoing trend is disingenuous at best.

The AEU claims “new analysis showing [the Turnbull Government] funding plan would see 62 per cent of extra funding go to private schools”. This so-called new analysis is based on assumptions from negotiations that have not even commenced yet and a funding plan that will finalised by early next year.

Official government analysis of the current Gonski agreement – which is exactly as agreed by the previous Labor Government – from 2014 to 2017 showed the Commonwealth Government had committed 63 per cent of its funds to the non-government sector over the ‘Gonski’ years – more than that predicted in today’s report.

Politically motivated reports, like the AEU’s contribution today, provide nothing more than a distraction from the real conversation that we need to be having about how record Federal Government funding for schools is spent to ensure we are investing in evidence-based reforms that drive improved outcomes for Australian students.

The most recent NAPLAN results showed literacy and numeracy results had plateaued since 2013 while over the same period there had been a 23.7 per cent funding increase for students in both the non-government and government sectors, but even those facts haven’t changed some people’s misguided focus.

Labor and the AEU ought to stop being just one trick ponies claiming more funding fixes every problem in education.

The Turnbull Government has committed to working with states and territories and the non-government sector to establish a new funding deal post-2017 that is tied to evidence-based initiatives and will see funding distribution informed by need.

The Turnbull Government is determined to develop a new, simpler distribution model to replace the 27 different funding models that we inherited under Labor's so-called national approach, in which special deals distort real need.

Turnbull Government school funding will grow from already-record levels but will be tied to a range of evidence-based initiatives to support students by focusing on outcomes in literacy, numeracy and STEM subjects, helping lift teaching quality and better preparing our children for life after school.

Our new model will ensure funding is distributed according to need. Total school funding across Australia will grow from $16 billion in 2016 to $20.1 billion in 2020 and we will be working to ensure that funding is increased each year so that schools currently delivering valuable programs can continue to do so.

Federal Government press release

Race Commissioner has blatantly prejudged Bill Leak over cartoon

The Race Discrimination ­Commissioner has just made it ­extremely dangerous for his ­organisation to discharge all of its statutory duties.

Tim Soutphommasane has ­encouraged people to lodge complaints with the commission about Bill Leak’s cartoon last week depicting an Aboriginal ­policeman returning a delinquent Aboriginal youth to his equally delinquent Aboriginal father.

The problem is that the commissioner has prejudged those complaints: Leak, according to Soutphommasane’s public statements, is guilty and people should feel free to complain.

Those complaints will all go to Soutphommasane’s organisation, where every official knows that one of those at the top has already made up his mind.

That means any attempt by the commission to deal with complaints about Leak’s cartoon is now vulnerable to challenge for a perception of bias.

Leak, like everyone else in this country, has a right to procedural fairness. Decision-makers who knowingly infringe that right might also be vulnerable to accus­ations of malice.

In free societies, the right to a fair hearing before an arm of the state is fundamental — a fact that has long been recognised in Australian administrative law.

Soutphommasane’s prejudgment of Leak’s cartoons was not a mere slip-up. It was blatant, which can be seen from a report on the affair that was published last week by Fairfax Media.

He was quoted as saying: “Our society shouldn’t endorse racial stereotyping of Aboriginal ­Australians or any other racial or ethnic group.”

He said “a significant number” of people would agree the cartoon was a racial stereotype of Aborig­inal Australians and he urged anyone who was offended by it to lodge a complaint under the ­Racial Discrimination Act.

In case anyone missed that ­article, Soutphommasane took to Twitter to ensure that his 15,091 followers had a link to the story outlining his views.

The tweet containing that link said this: “Our society shouldn’t endorse racial stereotyping of ­Aboriginal Australians — or, for that matter, any other group”.

Thanks to Soutphommasane’s efforts in drumming up complaints, it is now a fair bet that Leak will be asked to turn up at a closed-door “mediation” with someone who has been influenced by Soutphommasane.

The fact that his boss, Gillian Triggs, has not intervened to discipline him or limit the impact of his prejudgment of the cartoons will be viewed by many as an ­implicit endorsement of what he had to say. That will not be lost on all those whose careers at the commission can be influenced by Triggs and Soutphommasane.

Her inaction, coupled with his prejudgment, means that the ­commission has probably left it too late to remove the perception that it is incapable of fairly dealing with any complaint about the ­cartoon.

Here’s what needs to happen. Thanks to Soutphommasane, there will be complaints to the commission about the cartoon. Somebody will need to deal with them. In another case where the commission has been accused of breaching human rights, it brought in an independent silk to avoid the obvious conflict of interest. Thanks to the Race Discrim­in­ation Commissioner, it needs to do the same thing now.

That will be a ridiculously ­expensive waste of taxpayers’ money but the alternative is for the commission to blunder on, hoping that Leak will allow his rights, as well as his reputation, to be traduced.

If the Human Rights Commission has a future, it needs to start conducting itself with the self-discipline and professionalism expected of other statutory officers.


Press Council settles Bill Leak cartoon complaints with The Australian

The Australian Press Council has declined to rule on hundreds of complaints over a Bill Leak cartoon arguing “satire and cartooning’’ should be afforded great latitude “in a free and vigorous press’’.

In a statement today, the council’s chairman Professor David Weisbrot, said it had received over 700 complaints about Leak’s cartoon published on August 4.

Leak’s illustration, which followed a Four Corners program on the treatment of children in the Northern Territory’s Don Dale Correctional Centre, provoked strong reactions in the community and on social media with many labelling it “racist’’ and others saying it spoke to the issue of Indigenous responsibility.

“Balancing all of these considerations, and after consulting with key complainants, the Press Council considers that the best outcome in the public interest is to promote free speech and the contest of ideas through the publication of two major op-ed pieces in The Australian, providing Indigenous perspectives on the cartoon and shedding light on the underlying issues,’’ Professor Weisbrot said.

“With the agreement by The Australian to publish these items prominently, we believe that the complaints have been effectively resolved through an appropriate remedy, and no further action will be taken by the Press Council.

“We thank all of the complainants for their interest in maintaining media standards, and the editors of The Australian for their cooperative and constructive approach in this matter.’'

Professor Weisbrot said the Press Council understood and actively championed “the notion that freedom of speech and freedom of the press are the essential underpinnings of a liberal democracy, ensuring that citizens are able to hold powerful individuals and interests accountable, and to promote the contest of ideas that best enables sound policymaking, good government and a strong and open society’’.

“In light of the powerful public interest in a free and vigorous press, great deference is given to expressions of political opinion,’’ he said.

“Longstanding tradition dictates that satire and cartooning should be afforded even greater latitude, which is why the “Je suis Charlie” campaign, which started after a terrorist attack in Paris killed a number of journalists and cartoonists, resonated so powerfully around the world.’’

On the day the cartoon was published Paul Whittaker, The Australian’s editor-in-chief, said: “The Australian is proud of its long-standing and detailed contribution to our national debate over the crucial issues in Indigenous affairs.

“Bill Leak’s confronting and insightful cartoons force people to examine the core issues in a way that sometimes reporting and analysis can fail to do.’’


Administration staff and senior managers forced to leave their desks and drive ambulances amid crippling paramedic shortages

Isn't government efficiency wonderful?

Administration staff and a senior manager were forced to leave their desks to drive ambulances to emergency calls in Sydney when no paramedics were available this week.

Ambulance NSW became overwhelmed by a surge in demand in Western Sydney on Monday, and when no one else was available, had to to send office staff to triple-0 calls.

'People who manage the ambulance logistics are called in, these are people that don't work in ambulances, they work in offices and they were called in to do emergency work,' said Australian Paramedics Association president Steve Pearce.

He told Daily Mail Australia this was becoming a regular occurrence and has called for more paramedics in Western Sydney.

'This is an issue where Ambulance NSW regularly relies on off-duty ambos as a normal way of doing business. It's clear we don't have enough paramedics.

'These people are at home on their days off and on this occasion they were not available to come in,' he said.

Staff were so stretched on Monday that Ambulance executive director of service delivery David Dutton, who ­reports to the service's CEO had to drive a patient to Blacktown hospital.

There was a spike in emergency calls on Monday that were 'not attributed to hospital delays' an Ambulance NSW spokesperson told The Daily Telegraph.

The spokesperson said Blacktown Hospital had five ambulances that took over 30 minutes to offload.

Mr Pearce's comments are in line with figures released by the Bureau of Health Information which show hospitals in Western Sydney have the longest emergency department wait times in the state.

At Neapean Hospital over half of all emergency patients were left waiting four hours or longer between April and June. Blacktown and Campbelltown Hospital also had longer than average wait times, The Daily Telegraph reported.


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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