Thursday, November 28, 2019

Australia fails on early childhood education

We read below: "The report shows children who attend early learning services are as much as 33 per cent less likely to be developmentally vulnerable when they start school "

But why?  Does it mean that mothers who do all the caring are harming their kids?  Is the contrast with care-by-mother?  Probably not.  The report below admits that Aborigines and the poor tend not to send their kids to kindergarten.  So the comparision is between the poor and the rest. 

The results below are NOT a comparison between mothers of equal status, some of whom use kindergartens and others who do not.  There is no evidence that going to kindergarten is of itself better for the child

The percentage of Australian families with two parents in the workforce is increasing, as new data shows the number of couples with both adults employed full time doubling.

Data from the latest snapshot of early learning in Australia shows in 2013 the number of couple families in which both parents worked full time was 16 per cent. By 2017, the number was 33 per cent.

The Early Childhood Australia report, to be released on Monday, shows women remain more likely to be the primary carer for children, and  the proportion of families with a single earning father, whose partner is not in the labour force, decreased from 36 per cent in 2013 to 31 per cent in 2017.

Australia's upward trajectory in rates of female workforce participation — up by 1.5 percentage points in the past decade — aligns with trends in OCED countries, and brings the economy closer to Sweden, often viewed as an international leader in gender equity in the workforce.

The report shows children who attend early learning services are as much as 33 per cent less likely to be developmentally vulnerable when they start school than those who do not attend early learning services.

Disparities in access to early learning persist, however.

While nearly 45 per cent of children used early learning services in 2018, those living in remote areas, children from Indigenous and non-English speaking backgrounds and those with a disability are under-represented in early learning services.

For preschool programs in the year before full time schooling, enrolment levels are over 90 per cent. But actual attendance at preschool varies widely across the states and territories and economically disadvantaged and Indigenous children are less likely to attend.

Indigenous children are more likely to be developmentally vulnerable when they start school than non-Indigenous children. States where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are provided free or near-free access to preschool from age three tend to achieve the national Closing the Gap target of 95 per cent enrolment in the year before school.

Low-income families  spend a higher proportion of their income on early learning services, despite subsidies from government.

The report shows those on the lowest incomes pay almost double the proportion of their income after subsidies, at 8 per cent, compared with those on high incomes, who spend 4.7 per cent.

Australia falls below average the average investment levels for OECD countries, 0.7 per cent of GDP, and ranks 11th among the 21 member countries.

"While the headline figures indicate strong national progress in early childhood education and care provision and quality, closer examination highlights significant pockets of unmet need, and problems of affordability and workforce planning," the report said.

"The picture also differs between states and territories, where differences in the early childhood education and care landscape combine with varying policy settings to produce inconsistent results for children and families.

"The goal of fully realising the benefits of early learning for all children in Australia has not yet been reached."

The report will be released at federal Parliament. It notes a decline in investment in early learning per child occurred under the Turnbull and Morrison governments.


Bunnings' iconic sausage sizzle raises $600k for bushfire victims after hardcore vegans demanded the hardware giant CANCEL the fundraiser

I have no objection against people believing anything they like.  They can believe the moon is made of green cheese as far as I care.  It is when they want to impose their beliefs on others that I object

Bunnings raised more than half a million dollars for bushfire victims with a national sausage sizzle, despite a flock of irate herbivores campaigning for the fundraiser to be cancelled.

The hardware giant hosted the fundraising event last Friday with all stores across Australia raising money for those affected by bushfires that ravaged the eastern states.

The sausage sizzle raised more than $580,000 and Bunnings contributed an extra $20,000.

But the event drew criticism from the vegan community.

'Why oh why are people selling sausages to raise money when it's known that meat is a contributing factor to climate change? Which is a contributing factor to these fires!', one woman wrote on a vegan Facebook page.

'It honestly baffles my mind and makes me so sad. It's a heartbreaking cycle.'

The post went viral and has since been deleted, but dozens agreed with the woman's notion. 'They can shove their sausage where the sun don't shine,' one said.

But others believed they were looking at the fundraiser in the wrong light. 'Right now, helping those fighting the fires is more dire than fighting the meat industry for climate change,' one user posted.

'Sorry what? There is nothing they can do about the sausages already produced but they can sell them to raise funds for fire fighters who are actually facing the real fires happening right now,' another comment reads.

Despite the uproar, Bunnings Chief Operating Officer Debbie Poole thanked the thousands of people who supported the cause.

'We are so grateful that people from across Australia dropped by their local Bunnings' on Friday to buy a snag and donate to help those in need. The result would not have been possible without their generosity,' she said.

Hardware store employees in fire-affected communities helped support evacuation centres.

The funds will be donated to GIVIT - a charity that assists communities during disaster. GIVIT CEO Sarah Tennant said the money will be used to to buy items for farmers and communities in drought-affected regions, and supporting households and communities affected by bushfires.

'We will be working closely with our charity and community service partners on the ground to ensure people are getting what they require, whether that be a fridge, a table, school uniforms, or fuel and grocery vouchers.'

Four people died in unprecedented fire conditions across the eastern seaboard. 

More than 600 homes were destroyed in New South Wales since bushfire season began on October 1.


Insane wages for buiding workers proposed

A new Queensland Government plan could reportedly see lollipop workers earn close to $180,000 a year. The massive wage would apply to jobs on regional construction projects under minimum conditions being considered by the Labor Government.

The Government is trialling minimum requirements for major state-funded projects, similar to a Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union’s industry agreement.

It will force builders to ensure subcontractors apply the rates, but builders claim the move will drive up costs by at least 30 per cent.

They also say it will put principal contractors at risk of breaching workplace laws on adverse action and coercion in relation to subcontractors.

The requirements would apply to projects worth more than $100 million, the first understood to be the $130 million expansion of the Cairns Convention Centre.

The project’s 122 pages of minimum conditions, sent out to tenderers in October, include five per cent annual pay increases, requirements to pay weekend hours at overtime rates of 200 per cent and 12 per cent superannuation contributions, according to the Australian Financial Review.

Under the plan carpenters would earn $198,000 a year on a 46-hour week and traffic controllers about $178,000, according to calculations from the Master Builders Association.

MBA Queensland chief executive Grant Galvin attacked the policy as “Orwellian”. “They’re not minimum conditions – they’re maximum conditions,” he told AFR.

“The fact that the state government would even trial a policy which ensures that the most expensive and restrictive work practices in Australia are applied to all major government jobs across the state, is beyond comprehension.”

Mr Galvin said that money represented less the government had to spend on teachers, nurses or other public infrastructure. “We have strongly requested that they review this policy approach in the knowledge that these conditions don’t improve quality, safety or productivity,” he said.

“They just increase costs, particularly for regional areas and undermine the government’s ‘buy local’ policy.”

Queensland Major Contractors Association chief executive John Davies said the minimum conditions were 75 per cent higher than current market rates for civil construction.

The policy could result in breaches of the Fair Work Act, which could see employers banned from federally funded building work.

CFMEU Queensland secretary Michael Ravbar argued that the minimum conditions were “nothing like” the union’s agreement.

He said the government was trying to ensure that taxpayer money filtered down to the workers.

He said traffic controllers wouldn’t earn $180,000 a year because they “were lucky to get permanent employment for three to four weeks”.


"Green" Victoria is locking up almost all publicly-owned land from any use

Victoria is the vanguard of states in major struggles over the control and use of public lands.  These comprise around 35 per cent of the state, the majority of which is in parks and reserves that aim to minimise human impact. Such areas have long been seen as under-managed and infested with exotic flora and fauna. They are increasingly recognised as perilous host to ferocious and destructive fires.

The rest of the public land is state forest, traditionally available for forestry, grazing, mining and a whole range of leisure activities such car rallies, hunting, horse riding, camping and dog walking, none of which are generally permitted in National Parks.

Two developments are changing the nature of Victoria’s public lands. The first is increasing restrictions on the activities allowed in the state forests. Over the past 30 years governments have progressively constrained the use of the forests for timber harvesting and grazing.  Grazing has been all but eliminated and only 6 per cent of Victoria’s public forests are available for timber production, the annual harvesting area having been reduced from 25,000 hectares 40 years ago to just 3,000 hectares today.  Last week, the Andrews government announced a 2030 phase-out of all timber-getting in the state forests.

The second change is the conversion of state forest to national park and other conservation reserve categories.  This not only imposes restrictions on use but is also an essential step to converting the land to Aboriginal title, which unlike Native title, grants beneficial-use and veto rights over the activities and intentions of others.  Even within the remaining state forest, the government is moving to enhance designated Aboriginal groups’ influence by granting them controls over exploration licences.

To effect the transfer the title of the land to National Parks or similar classifications, the government funds the Victorian Environmental Assessment Council (VEAC), an environmental bureaucracy comprised largely of former eco-activists, to sequentially investigate regional areas. Under the guise of community engagement, VEAC acts largely at the behest of environmental activists and Aboriginal groups (see, for example, the latest annual report).  The latter are paid to rediscover long-dormant attachments to the area under investigation and, with the prospect of title and financial support for management, are quite naturally all in favour of a change.

VEAC also hires economic consultants, who over the course of several investigations have demonstrated a skill for divining how much people supposedly value land being redesignated as being exclusively for conservation. In their most recent investigation, applying an alchemistic methodology called “contingent valuation” VEAC’s consultants have estimated that the Victorian public would be willing to pay $247 million in order to convert 60,000 hectares of state forest in the Victorian Goldfields (the Central West) into National Park.

The valuation ($4600 per hectare) of restraining public use of public land is not based on some marginal change to land use.  It would be equally applicable to the whole of the state. Its logic means people would be willing to sterilise all of the 3,100,00 hectares of state forest from commercial and most leisure uses and consider themselves to be $14 billion better off as a result!  It would mean that, if half the state’s agricultural land were to be surrendered to non-uses, we, the people, would be better off! In addition, the consultants place a trivial value on the loss from preventing car rallies, hunting, horse riding and camping. They do so with little evidence of usages.

In the case of forestry, there has been a steady, politically-driven erosion of the area permitted to be harvested.  The Regional Forest Agreements at the turn of the century were supposed to have settled the conservation/harvesting split, but harvesting has since been reduced by three quarters.  The latest proposals envisage further reductions on the road to the total embargo.

VEAC’s consultants also argue against mining and prospecting and claim that future mineral discoveries are well-nigh impossible. This view about minerals is remarkable since the Geological Survey of Victoria estimates that half the state’s gold is yet to be found, and the area has hosted much mineral production in the past.  In relatively recent times, two major gold mines have been opened near the area – one of which, Fosterville, actually has the second-richest gold concentrations of any mine in the world and is presently producing at over one billion dollars per annum.  Moreover, entrepreneurs risking their own money take a different view to VEAC – expenditure in the 42 exploration licenses current in the area is around $9 million a year. A recent discovery in the area of a nugget worth $160,000 by an amateur prospector is further evidence of the region’s prospectivity. Uncovering any further hidden wealth would be foreclosed by reclassifying the land as National Park which VEAC have recommended.

So, we have a double whammy.  First, policies are being pursued to banish commercial and much leisure-use activities that have proven to be perfectly compatible with forest conservation.  Secondly, requiring the cessation of commercial forestry also means eliminating many of the roads, and thereby heavy machinery, essential to fight fires. It would be hard to devise a more destructive set of policies.

Several hundred regional forest workers have held a rally outside Parliament House to protest the new measures that will bring needless and counterproductive job losses.  Coalition MPs showed their solidarity, but with green philosophies dominating the bureaucracy and a state government  determined to court inner-city votes, the march to transform Victoria into an unproductive tinderbox continues apace.


 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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