Monday, February 27, 2023

Homeseekers warned over small buying window

I have got to agree with this. The steadly increasing Queensland population due to immigration from interstate and overseas combined with the very slow rate of new builds must inevitably increase scarcity and scarcity inevitably brings price rises

It’s a buyer’s market but home seekers have been warned they may only have a small window to purchase properties at lower prices before they rise again.

Housing experts revealed many property markets were on track to rebound in the months ahead following record price falls over the past year.

The main drivers of the uplift in prices over the second half of the year were worsening housing shortages, rampant migration and runaway rental increases coaxing more first homebuyers to purchase.

Agents reported buyers had also adjusted to the initial shock of the Reserve Bank’s recent barrage of rate rises and were factoring future rises into their spending budgets.

My Housing Market economist Andrew Wilson said the market was already improving and looked likely to bottom out by June.

Ray White chief economist Nerida Conisbee said there was mounting evidence the worst of the year-long housing slump had passed and prices in some cities were closer to static than falling.

Prices nationally inched down by just 0.09 per cent over January and by a similar margin over December – a far cry from the more than 1 per cent drops over the months following the first rate hikes in May.

Ms Conisbee said rate rises had pushed down prices but their impact on future price movements had been overblown.

“It’s a big influence on the market, but it’s not the only factor,” she said. “Little housing stock is coming onto the market in most areas and this doesn’t look like it will change. In fact, it could get worse because we’re not building enough new homes and builders are going bust.”

Property figures showed current listings across the country are about 30 per cent below the five-year average. Three- and four-bedroom houses were in particularly short supply.

“The quality homes are rarely listed. Buyers who want them have to compete and prices for those houses will go up,” Real Estate Buyer’s Agents Association of Australia president Cate Bakos said.

“There are a lot of people who can buy, but aren’t doing so,” Ms Bakos said.

“They’re all for the bell to ring saying it’s the bottom of the market. Those buyers will be your competition when the market recovers. The exact same thing happened during pandemic. People held off until the market started booming, then it was too late.”

Buyer’s agent Rich Harvey of Property Buyer said sitting on the sidelines waiting for further falls in property prices before making a purchase wasn’t a smart strategy given how rapidly rents were rising.

A typical capital city tenant is currently spending about $30,000 a year in rent and some renters would not necessarily get this kind of saving on their purchase price if they kept waiting to buy.

“The biggest falls have already happened, any additional falls will be a lot smaller, but during all that time you’re paying a lot in rent that could have paid off your mortgage,” Mr Harvey said.


NSW Labor’s plan to offer IB in public schools ‘risks diminishing the HSC’

The IB is something of an elite qualification requiring a fairly high IQ. It would be unlikely to suit working class students. It is thus something of an alternstive "advance placement" course. When the Left are trying to dumb everything down, it could thus be something of a life-raft for more able students in government schools

Principals and education experts warn introducing the International Baccalaureate to the public sector could deepen the education divide, with schools in wealthy areas more likely to offer the costly HSC alternative.

Opposition leader Chris Minns announced on Thursday that under a Labor government public schools would be given the option of running the IB, allowing all school sectors access to the globally recognised qualification.

However, the NSW Department of Education said the plan would incur significant costs – including teacher training and registration – that could run into hundreds of thousands of dollars per school.

“The Department remains committed to the HSC because it is an inclusive, world-renowned credential that provides [for] all students in NSW,” a spokesperson said.

The IB – which has an emphasis on university preparation – is offered in 37 of the state’s private schools. It is frequently used by schools for marketing purposes and has never been offered in the NSW public system.

An internal Department of Education paper finished in 2017, but never acted upon, recommended state schools offer the IB to give students access to an academically rigorous HSC equivalent.

It would “help attract and retain families of bright students in the public school system”, the proposal said at the time, while estimating it would cost a public school between $44,000 to $300,500 to run the program.

Labor said lifting the restriction would bring NSW into alignment with public schools in Victoria, Queensland, South Australia and the ACT, which all have the option of offering the program to students.

“Individual public schools would be able to lodge expressions of interest to trial the course or courses that suit their school from within their existing budgets,” Shadow Minister for Education Prue Car said.

But Tom Alegounarias, the former chair of NESA, said the HSC has been built and protected by both sides of politics.

“The vast majority of the most outstanding students now do the HSC and that’s what gives the HSC its power.”

“The HSC is a substantial and glittering asset of NSW. The vast majority of the most outstanding students now do the HSC and that’s what gives the HSC its power,” he said.

“This is crucial for the least advantaged in providing a level playing field and transparent standards and the status of achievement, and no other is as transparent in its standards.

More than 200 schools in Australia offer an IB qualification, including 71 public schools in Victoria, Queensland and South Australia.

Of the 44 public schools that offer the program and are members of IB Australasia, the vast majority have an above-average ICSEA score, which is a measure of a school’s socio-educational advantage.

Alegounarias said the IB provides independent schools with a point of marketing differentiation, but rolling it out across state schools could “risk diminishing the HSC qualification”.

NSW Secondary Principals’ Council president Craig Petersen said he wanted more detail about the IB proposal amid concerns about how it would be implemented.

“It has implications for resourcing and timetabling. The HSC is highly regarded and provides equitable access to all,” Petersen said.

“We would need to be convinced that any move to IB did not disadvantage students. Many colleagues have already expressed concerns that it would further widen the equity gap between students.”

“It’s been sad that the only way in NSW a student can access IB education was through private school.”

Antony Mayrhofer, Secretary of IB Schools Australasia
However, Dallas McInerney, the chief executive officer of Catholic Schools NSW, said as “a principle of choice” there was a level of demand for the IB, and that should be supported.

“It’s never shown the promise to be a large-scale offering, and the resource intensity is a factor in that,” he said.

Almost 660 NSW students sat IB diploma exams last year, up by about 10 per cent on 2021 enrolments. The number of private school IB students who received an ATAR equivalent score of 99.95 dropped by half after an overhaul of the conversion process that was previously used to give students their university entrance rank.

Secretary of IB Schools Australasia, Antony Mayrhofer, welcomed the move. “It’s been sad that the only way in NSW a student can access IB education was through private school, that was not the case in the rest of the country or the rest of the world,” he said. “It is a very inclusive program, sadly in NSW, it has been seen as being elitist, it is far from that.”

Northern Sydney District Council of P&C Associations president David Hope said more choice for students was important, while Central Coast president Sharryn Brownlee said more funding would be needed to make it successful.

Carol Taylor, a former chief executive of NESA, said while the IB had been considered over a number of years, the HSC is a universal qualification that’s accepted worldwide.

“There is cachet and status involved with the IB. But the HSC is free, equitable and caters for a broad range of students.”


Domestic violence law reforms pass Queensland parliament

Government cannot do much in such personal matters but this may help a little

A suite of domestic violence reforms passed in the Queensland parliament will strengthen protection for victims.

The changes will expand the definition of domestic and family abuse to include a "pattern of behaviour" and will strengthen the offence of stalking.

The amendments also strengthen the court's ability to consider previous domestic violence or criminal history and to award costs to avoid further abuse to victims.

Sue and Lloyd Clarke, the parents and grandparents of Hannah Clarke and her three children who were murdered by Hannah's estranged partner in 2020, spoke outside parliament today.

"No one wants these laws more than our family," Mr Clarke said. "We need to take these small steps to get them right and to make these laws stick. "Coercive control is such a complex matter, and that's why it needs to take time, to get this right."

The Clarkes said it was their goal for similar legislation to be enacted Australia-wide in the future.

"I don't think there's anything wrong with waiting and watching and learning, to see if there are any mistakes, but I like to think Queensland will get it right, " Ms Clarke said.

Queensland's Attorney-General and Minister for the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence Shannon Fentiman said the laws had been adapted to identify patterns of abuse that happen over time.

"The bill that passed parliament late yesterday does a number of things, including amending the definition of domestic and family violence to better protect women experiencing coercive control," she said.

"It's about identifying those red flags earlier, before more blue police tape surrounds another family home."

Ms Fentiman, who is also the Minister for Justice and Minister for Women, said the reforms would include "extensive" training for frontline services, like police and domestic and family violence support services, to better identify and respond to coercive control.

"At the moment, really, our system is set up to respond to one individual incident of physical violence. That is not how domestic and family violence is experienced by so many victims," she said.

A coronial inquest into the murders of Hannah Clarke and her three children – six-year-old Aaliyah, four-year-old Laianah and three-year-old Trey – found that while police officers acted appropriately overall, there were missed opportunities for further action.

Sue Clarke agreed that police needed more training on coercive control. "They (police) are doing the best they can, but coercive control is not easy to understand," she said.

"I think the more training there is, the more obvious these signs will be to the police.

"They have a lot on their plates and we need to have the laws there so they can do something about it when they see it happening."

The deputy state coroner made four recommendations at the conclusion of the Hannah Clarke inquest in June last year, requiring "immediate attention" to prevent similar deaths.

They included a five-day face-to-face training program for specialist DV police "as a matter of urgency", a mandatory DV module for all officers as part of their annual skills training, and funding for men's behavioural change programs.


Is it time to defund public education?

Mark Powell

For quite some time, I have been concerned about the attack upon private schools, and in particular, those who are faith-based. With almost boring regularity, Jane Caro and her ilk rail against private schools receiving any government funding at all. Don’t parents who pay to send their children to religious schools also pay their taxes, which supports states schools as well?

But the most vexing attack comes in the form of legislation. Or more specifically, the weaponisation of laws involving discrimination. The Australian Law Reform Commission in particular is spearheading this assault. In an article published recently by The Australian Vanessa Cheng, Executive Officer of the Australian Association of Christian Schools, made the following statement:

The proposals put forward [by the Australian Law Reform Commission] are radical and strike at the heart of what Christian schools are all about. For our schools, we need to be able to hire Christian staff – that’s what makes us unique, that’s what is distinctive. If we are unable to hire Christians who share the beliefs and values of the school, it will undermine the ethos and culture of our schools.

The simple answer to all of this is if an adult cannot agree with the beliefs or ethics of religious school, then they should simply find a job somewhere else. There are plenty of other schools to choose from. Why force an atheist – or a member of a different religion – to uphold the central Christian doctrine that Jesus Christ is the Son of God who died on the cross for one’s sins, and rose again from the dead for the believer’s justification? If they can’t believe this, then they should not be forced to go against their conscience in doing so.

But neither should the religious institution itself have to change to suit the differing perspective of the individual teacher. In a democratic and free society, surely there is room for everyone to practice what they believe. Or even more, to commence their own school. But all of a sudden I’ve realised why this is never going to be the case.

Much to their chagrin, the Sydney Morning Herald pointed out this week that, according to the latest census figure, parents are voting with their feet and sending their children to private schools in what the SMH calls, a ‘public system exodus’. As the article, itself reported:

Parents are sending their children to the state’s independent schools in record numbers, while the share of students enrolled in public schools has plunged to its lowest level in 15 years.

There were thousands fewer students enrolled in NSW public schools last year as families increasingly opted for a private education.

Official data released on Wednesday showed that 63.7 per cent of NSW students attended public schools in 2022 – a fall from 65.5 per cent five years ago. The proportion of students in independent schools has surged to 15.1 per cent, up from 13.3 per cent in 2017.

Catholic schools have remained relatively steady, with their share of students rising slightly to 21 per cent in 2022.

Significantly, this is a trend with is also occurring nationally with non-government schools in every state of Australia outperforming government ones. What’s more, in NSW, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania and the Northern Territory, enrolments in government schools are in sharp decline

What’s more, according to the ABS:

In 2022, the annual growth rate for school enrolments was 0.3 per cent (11,795 more students), the lowest growth rate since both full-time and part-time students were included in this publication (1995):

Government school enrolments recorded a fall of 0.6 per cent (16,929 fewer students).

Non-government school enrolments recorded an increase of 2.0 per cent (28,724 more students).

Finally, this is a trend that has been occurring on a consistent year by year basis. As the ABS reports:

Over the five years to 2022, total student enrolments increased by 3.8 per cent. Independent schools recorded the largest increase (12.5 per cent), followed by Catholic schools (3.9 per cent) and government schools (1.9 per cent).

Now, there are many reasons for the present ‘exodus’ to be sure. For instance, the impact of immigration is an aspect that is noticeably unexamined by journalists. But it also explains why LGBTQ+ activists are so committed to undermining the ethos of non-government schools. Not only do they have the wherewithal to create their own primary, secondary or even tertiary institutions, but it’s simply where the people are.

Parents are clearly voting with their feet. And what their footsteps are telling us is that there is something about the education being offered in private schools which is more attractive than public ones. Whether it be the discipline, safety, learning, and behavioural support or extracurricular activities. Private schools are rapidly increasing in market share.

So much so, in fact, that there might even come a time when the question might be, should all education be privatised? Why not allow parents to even have a say where their taxes should be apportioned in the guise of ‘school vouchers’?

Significantly, this is already occurring in the United States, with Arizona, West Virginia, and more recently, Iowa and Utah all signing on to the program. What’s more, there are nearly a dozen other states also currently considering legislation involving vouchers. According to the Los Angeles Times:

The universal voucher plan…will by year three allow any K-12 student in the state to switch from public school to private school with up to $7,600 a year in taxpayer funds to help pay the bill, regardless of family income.

The tide is turning, as those behind the Australian Law Reform Commission are well aware. Private schools are a force to be reckoned with. And in a bid to ward off the inevitable demise of the public system, their strategy now is to dilute the distinctive which make private schools so valuable.

It’s time though for an even more radical change. And that is, we need to start posing more seriously the question of giving parents the right to say where their hard-earned tax dollars should be spent. And maybe it’s even time to start asking why we’re still funding public education?




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