Thursday, December 01, 2016
When does physical discipline of a child become unlawful abuse?
This highlights something I have long said. Some, perhaps most, children are tractable enough to diverted from undesirable behaviour without spanking. But others are so unruly that no control of their behaviour can be achieved without corporal punishment. All men are not equal nor are all kids equal, difficult to understand though that seems to be for Leftists.
In the case below, a man used very violent behaviour in an attempt to control extremely violent behaviour by two out of five kids in his household. What else was he to do? Shut the kids out on the street? He was in fact being responsible in trying to teach them restraint.
The judge apparently saw that, pointing out that the behaviour was illegal but taking a very mild view of the matter. He ruled that the father could have access to his own untroubled son but cut off access to the violent children, who are now in state care anyway. Rather a Solomon-like verdict, I think
The question arose in the case of a father who had beaten his two eldest children with a cricket bat, but who argued he should still be allowed to see his six-year-old son.
The boy lives with his mother, who opposed her estranged husband having any contact with their boy.
Both she and the father had previously smacked the boy, the Family Court in Newcastle heard. But the mother claimed he was at risk of physical abuse if left with the father, because of the way the man punished his older sons from a previous relationship.
Under the NSW Crimes Act, the defence of lawful correction permits a parent, or someone acting with their authority, to punish a child with physical force. But the force must be reasonable in light of the child's age, health and maturity, as well as their alleged misbehaviour. Force applied to any part of the child's head or neck, or elsewhere on their body in a way likely to cause harm "for more than a short period", is not considered reasonable.
The court heard that from around the time they were aged aged six or seven, the father hit his two eldest sons with a cricket bat and once left them with bruises and welts after beating them with a broken broom handle. In what judge Stewart Austin called a description of "cruel brutality", a sibling recalled hearing the boys beg for mercy and scream with pain, saw the bat used with such force it broke and saw welts on the boys' bottoms.
The boys are now in their early teens and in state care. The three other children in the household had not been abused by the father.
In determining the case, Justice Austin said it was necessary "to differentiate between physical 'discipline' and physical 'abuse'".
"Despite modern society's changing opinion about the morality of corporal punishment of children, the law of NSW still envisages the legitimate administration of physical discipline by an adult to a child, subject to certain constraints," he said. "It is only when the discipline transcends those constraints that it becomes abusive and ceases to be lawful correction."
Justice Austin described the two older boys as "very troubled children", throwing objects, damaging property and "using weapons like knives, broken glass, hammers and loaded spear guns to threaten people".
But the fact that their behaviour "presented an extraordinarily difficult parenting challenge was not an excuse for the severity of their treatment", he said. Their punishment amounted to abuse and "criminal assaults".
However, the judge granted the father unsupervised visits with his six-year-old son, ruling it was in the child's best interests.
The father was not "so unfit as a parent that he is utterly incapable of safely caring for the child for short stints", Justice Austin said. He noted that the father had undergone parenting courses and the little boy was unlikely to be as challenging as his older stepbrothers.
African migrants at heart of daycare scandals
Another triumph of multiculturalism
Family daycare operators and teachers from non-English-speaking backgrounds are being targeted by state authorities in a bid to crack down on abuse and bending of rules that have cost taxpayers more than $1 billion in two years and put children at risk.
Senior departmental staff and Queensland Education Minister Kate Jones have confirmed a trend in rorting and noncompliance among ethnic communities, which has resulted in scarce investigative resources being focused on new services and migrant groups. Analysis of state government enforcement action in the past six months reveals family day care services slapped with conditions, suspended or cancelled were almost exclusively run by migrants from Africa, most from Somalia or Sudan.
Sudanese migrant Aluel Mawiir provided false and misleading information and failed to meet service conditions for her Victorian business, Dombai Family Daycare.
In one West Australian case, Sudanese woman Anyieth Makuei had her approval to run her Zebra Family Day cancelled on May 19 because she provided fake documents to the regulator regarding the first aid and asthma training of her staff. Weeks later Ms Makuei lost her ability to be a supervisor in the same industry because, according to the state, she “persuaded family daycare educators to produce false documents and provide false information at the interview” with the state government.
In Victoria, Milky Way Family Day Care, which lists its directors as Ethiopian-born Jale Tujuba and Adnan Yusuf, was put on notice by the Victorian government for providing false and misleading information, not meeting service conditions and failing to run required educational programs.
Family daycare providers fall under the National Quality Framework, introduced by the previous Labor federal government in 2012, and attract federal government child care subsidies.
Queensland’s Acacia Ridge service Maka Family Day Care Scheme has been suspended until Christmas Eve because “there was an immediate risk to the safety, health or wellbeing of children being educated and cared for”.
Family daycare services have grown 61 per cent in the past two years, compared with just 7 per cent for centre-based childcare operators.
The hike in activity, which has been higher than 300 per cent in some regions, has placed pressure on state governments, which are responsible for making sure the businesses meet stringent rules and regulations under the quality framework.
Ms Jones said Queensland was now rejecting 60 per cent of new applications. “Queensland has put in place the toughest regulation process in the country for family daycare approved providers,” she told The Australian.
“In addition (to approval rejections) there are strict conditions on approvals and ongoing monitoring and compliance checks.”
Of the 15 most recent compliance crackdowns across the nation, all but one of the services are owned and operated by African directors, with six from Sudan and another six from Somalia.
The Australian revealed the case of Sudanese migrant Ruben Majok Aleer Aguer who received $1.6 million in federal funds over just 16 months to run a network of family daycare educators which authorities could not confirm were officially employed by him.
Nor, during at least 17 inspections, did any of the ACT department staff confirm a single child was ever in care.
Sharing of regulatory responsibility between Canberra and the states means the federal government only investigates fraud offences when it suspects money has gone missing. The largest proven case of family daycare fraud ended last week when Albury-based 29-year-old Melissa Jade Higgins was found guilty of stealing more than $3m from the federal government.
Victoria has moved to take the heat out of the market by increasing inspections and investigations.
The family daycare sector in Victoria represents 10 per cent of the total childcare pool but accounts for almost 80 per cent of enforcement actions taken by the state. Services have grown by 341 and 339 per cent respectively in Melbourne’s highly multicultural western and northern suburbs.
Australian students are worse at maths and science than children in KAZAKHSTAN
Thanks to "modern" (Leftist) ideas in the classroom
Australian students are worse at maths and science than students in countries such as Kazakhstan, Bulgaria and Serbia.
The latest results from the four-yearly Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS), shows Australian students have gone backwards as other countries have improved.
The study looked at how well Year 4 and Year 8 students have mastered maths and science lessons, asking questions like how many legs an insect has, which animals lay eggs and what the angles in a triangle add up to.
The Australian Council for Educational Research, which reports on the study, said it should be a wake-up call.
The council's Sue Thomson said the long tail on results was of particular concern.
Between a quarter and a third of Australian students are still not meeting the proficient standard.
'In terms of children in classrooms, that's probably seven or eight students in your average 25-student classroom,' Dr Thomson told AAP.
'That is a big worry and it's not something that's changed over the last 20 years.'
But Dr Thomson says the results only reveal the problem, not solutions.
It could be that Australia has not set its sights high enough, with the 'proficient' standards here set just above the TIMSS intermediate level.
'Since TIMSS 2011 we haven't really put in much that would lift performance at those lower benchmarks so nothing really has happened,' Dr Thomson said.
She highlighted the huge role socio-economic background - measured by the number of books at home - played in a student's success.
If just the results from the richest students were used, they would be among the top eight countries in the world, whereas those from poorer families are within the bottom quarter.
'I'm not necessarily going to relate it to funding, however we're back at the table insofar as school funding goes and we're still finding that disadvantaged students from disadvantaged schools are those who are not achieving well in these sort of tests,' Dr Thomson said.
'They're the ones we need to be targeting to try and improve their achievement.'
Education Minister Simon Birmingham said the fascination of some with how much money was being spent in schools came at the detriment of examining its distribution and what would actually boost results.
He will use the maths and science results as a key part of his mid-December discussions with state counterparts about a new funding agreement.
But Labor said it was disingenuous to use the TIMSS results to say Gonski funding hadn't made any difference because students were tested in 2014, when less than 10 per cent of the total money had gone to schools.
'(The results) show governments must act immediately to break the link between poor performance and disadvantage,' Labor's education spokeswoman Tanya Plibersek said.
'Both Liberal and Labor state governments know the positive difference extra needs based funding is making in their schools - that's why they have put politics aside to campaign together against Malcolm Turnbull's cuts.'
A big win for Australia
Malcolm Turnbull has hailed Senate approval of the government's plan to restore the building industry watchdog as a vital reform that will benefit every Australian family.
At the same time the prime minister took a swipe at Labor, accusing the opposition of being nothing more than apologists for the militancy of the construction union.
"This is a great day for Australian families - this is not union busting, this is economy boosting," Mr Turnbull told reporters in Canberra on Wednesday.
"It is backing the rule of law, it is backing Australians to get ahead."
Employment Minister Michaelia Cash, who guided the legislation through the Senate, said the government was restoring law and order to the construction sector.
"Under Labor, with their mates in the CFMEU, this was an industry that was marred by bullying, intimidation and thuggery," she said.
Labor fought passage of the legislation all the way through the parliament, Senator Cash said.
"They continue to put their heads in the sand and deny, despite royal commissions, despite Federal Court judgements, that there is something wrong with the building construction industry," she said.
Mr Turnbull rejected suggestions the concessions the government made to secure passage of the bill meant he was a "hollow man, horse trader".
"We feel pretty good about it, I have to tell you," he said, conceding the negotiations with cross benchers had been "a slog".
"We have always said this is a parliament where we will set out to ensure it works."
Senator Cash dismissed criticism the amendments to the original legislation meant the ABCC was a watchdog without a bite.
"This is all about cultural change within the building and construction sector," she said.
NSW: Ethanol mandates costing motorists $85m
Why do Greenies want ethanol in motor fuel? It just combusts to give off small amounts of CO2 the way other fuels do. It makes no sense
MOTORISTS in NSW are spending up to $85 million more on petrol due to the state government’s push to force service stations to sell ethanol-laced fuel, according to the competition watchdog.
In its latest petrol market report, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission says the NSW Government’s ethanol mandate has led to less choice and higher costs for Sydney motorists.
Introduced in 2007, the ethanol mandate requires service stations to sell at least 6 per cent ethanol as a proportion of their sales. E10 fuel is a mixture of 10 per cent ethanol and 90 per cent petrol.
Earlier this year, the Baird government ramped up its ethanol push by introducing harsh new penalties of more than $500,000 for service stations that do not stock E10 fuel. Manildra Group, the monopoly provider of ethanol fuel in NSW, is a major donor to state and federal branches of the Liberals, Nationals and Labor.
Former NSW Upper House whip Peter Phelps, who quit in March out of protest against the ethanol fuel laws, told the ABC earlier this year that it was “literally the worst piece of legislation NSW has introduced”.
According to the ACCC, the reduced availability of regular unleaded petrol (RULP) has led to higher sales of premium unleaded petrol (PULP) and E10. In 2014-15, PULP made up 54 per cent of total petrol sales while E10 made up 36 per cent. Nationwide excluding NSW, PULP sales were 23 per cent and E10 just 4 per cent.
The ACCC calculates that as a result of the ethanol mandate, Sydney motorists have spent between $75-$85 million extra on PULP, which averaged 11.5 cents per litre more expensive for 95 octane and 18.5 cents per litre for 98 octane than RULP in 2015-16.
“While the use of E10 may be better for the environment, the ethanol mandate has reduced consumer choice and cost Sydney motorists up to $85 million,” said ACCC chairman Rod Sims. “It has also boosted Sydney retailer’s profits due to the higher margins on premium fuel.”
Mark McKenzie, chief executive of the petrol retailer peak body ACAPMA, said government interference in motorists’ choice of fuel was unwanted and created “perverse economic effects”.
“Simply put, people are making a choice as to what product they put in their car and really are thumbing their nose at the government,” he said. “We’re talking about a mandate that’s been around for seven years. People have tried E10 and have fled from it.
“The issue here is the arrogance of the Baird government. They think they can make policy to suit themselves and their mates, when there is a broader community they’re supposed to be serving.
“Our view is the choice of fuel is that of the motorist and the government has no place interfering in a core product.”
NRMA spokesman Peter Khoury said while it was true people were buying more premium fuel, there had been a lot of “misinformation” about E10 and it was “demonstrably not true” that it was bad for engines.
“The majors are advertising premium fuels quite heavily. People can buy regular fuel or E10 but they’re buying 98 octane and paying upwards of 30 cents per litre more for no real benefit,” he said.
“About three-quarters of the NSW fleet can run on E10. The remaining that can’t are either cars built before 1986 or they are high-performance vehicles that are mostly imported. The manufacturer will specify if a vehicle must run on premium fuel.”
Mr Khoury also disagreed with the ACCC’s finding that regular fuel was harder to find. “There is plenty of regular out there,” he said. “When we quote petrol prices we’re talking regular, not E10. People are buying it all over the place.”
Queensland is set to become the second state to introduce an ethanol mandate from January. Queensland Biofuels Minister Mark Bailey told The Australian many NSW motorists “wrongly assumed” their car could not use E10 because the NSW government did not roll out a consumer education campaign.
“Our ethanol mandate from January is set at a level that will ensure fuel retailers continue to offer a broad range of fuel grades,” Mr Bailey said.
NSW Minister for Innovation and Better Regulation Victor Dominello said the ethanol mandate had been a bipartisan policy since 2007.
“The government made changes to the legislation earlier in the year that will boost competition in the marketplace and provide consumers with greater choice,” Mr Dominello said.
“The reforms ensure the mandate is focused on the bigger petrol station operators while providing appropriate exemptions for smaller operators.
“Consumers are encouraged to use the government’s FuelCheck website which empowers them to find the cheapest fuel by publishing petrol prices in real-time for every service station across NSW.”
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