Tuesday, October 25, 2022

Anthony Albanese's government announces plan to build one million homes to make housing more affordable for Australians

This is about all he can do to help. The big blockages to house building are State and local governments. And Albo will have a hard job getting new construction past them. He really needs legislation to take their permitting powers away but there would be an uproar about that.

I am afraid this will end up like a 2017 scheme in NZ under the Ardern government. Only a small fraction of the 100,000 houses promised were actually built. Leftist governments are great on promises

Building one million new homes will be the target of a Labor plan to bring together governments, the construction industry and super funds to boost investment in affordable housing.

Treasurer Jim Chalmers will confirm details surrounding the plan when he delivers his first budget on Tuesday night.

The federal government has already pledged $10billion to its Housing Australia Future Fund, which it says will deliver 30,000 social and affordable homes in the next five years.

Dr Chalmers said reaching the one million homes target would tackle one of the biggest challenges facing the nation and its economy.

'As I go around Australia speaking with local communities, employers and workers, one of the big challenges we have in our economy is we've got these jobs and opportunities being created, but it's becoming harder and harder to live near where those job opportunities are,' he told ABC Radio.

'I've been working really closely and really hard with superannuation and other investors … with the building and construction industry, and with the union movement, to see what we can do to shift the needle on affordable housing.'

Dr Chalmers said he would unveil the timing for achieving the target in Tuesday's budget.

His comments come as figures released ahead of the budget show the bottom line will look rosier than expected.

The deficit for 2022/23 is forecast to hit $36.9billion, less than half the $78billion forecast in the March budget delivered by the coalition government.

High commodity prices and strong employment are anticipated to keep propping up the public purse, although this boost to revenue is expected to start slowing down after two years.

But Dr Chalmers said the $548billion to be spent on health and aged care across the next four years was one of the huge pressures on Australia's budget.

He said he hoped Labor's renewed focus on health would drive down soaring GP wait times.

'We want to take pressure off emergency departments, we want to strengthen Medicare, we want to fix the crisis in aged care,' he said.

'Those are very clear priorities … we've got a lot of spending pressures on the budget but we need to invest in people's health, a healthy community gives us the best chance of a strong economy.'

The budget, to be delivered in parliament by Dr Chalmers at 7.30pm AEDT, will also flag new measures of 'wellbeing' and outline a package of support for women.

Alongside aged care and health, disability services and defence are expected to be the biggest areas of spending.

Opposition finance spokeswoman Jane Hume warned the government against producing a high-taxing, high-spending budget.

'The coalition left the budget in a good space … unemployment was really low, tax receipts were up and that's a good thing and fed into the budget bottom line,' she told Nine's Today program.

'Now we want to see a plan to bring inflation back into line to that two-to-three per cent range so the RBA doesn't have to do all the heavy lifting … it will take everything for Labor not to fall into their usual trap, which could be disastrous for Australians.'


Australia’s dumbed-down schools are going nowhere

Over the last month, there have been yet another two initiatives designed, supposedly, to improve the performance of Australian schools, raise standards and ensure greater equity. The first is an interim report by the Productivity Commission evaluating the 2018 National School Reform Agreement.

The NSRA is signed by Commonwealth, state, and territory governments and details strategies designed to ‘lift student outcomes across Australian schools’ by implementing a range of policies including a unique student identifier, reviewing senior secondary pathways, and strengthening the initial teacher education accreditation system.

The second initiative involves establishing a panel to review the effectiveness of teacher training established by the Commonwealth Minister for Education Jason Clare and chaired by the ex-ABC Managing Director Mark Scott.

While applauded as the panacea to achieve excellence and equity both initiatives are destined to join a long list of reviews and reports beginning in the early 1970s that have proven counterproductive and worthless in strengthening Australia’s education system.

Since the Karmel Report in 1973 and Victoria’s Blackburn Report in 1985, there have been over 20 reviews and reports at all levels of government designed to strengthen schools, improve teacher effectiveness, and raise standards.

Among the plethora commissioned are the Keating government’s National Statements and Profiles (1992), the NSW’s review of the Higher School Certificate (1995), a national inquiry into literacy teaching (2005), the Gonski Review of School funding (2011), the Review of the National Curriculum (2014), the Review to Achieve Educational Excellence (2017), and a review of the NSW curriculum (2020).

In addition to the eight state and territory education departments and curriculum bodies, in yet another attempt to improve Australia’s substandard educational performance, the Commonwealth government has also established the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (2005) and the Australian Curriculum and Assessment Authority (2008).

The dismal results of the last 50 years of reviews, reports, and government policies are obvious to all. Australia has slipped down the rankings as measured by the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) and the Trends in International Maths and Science Study (TIMSS) tests.

Apprentices start work with substandard literacy and numeracy skills, universities have dumbed-down first-year courses, and too many students leave after 12 years of schooling culturally illiterate and morally adrift.

If those responsible for Australia’s education system were in charge of a business they would have been sacked or gone broke. Instead, like the old industrial relations club, those responsible for the current malaise are reappointed to peak positions and given yet another chance to prove their ineptitude

What’s to be done? While the Greens Party, the Australian Education Union, and sympathetic academics argue what is needed in increased investment over the last 20 to 30 years proves spending more is simply throwing good money after bad.

It’s also useless to establish yet another committee made up of bureaucrats and education department, teacher union, and subject association representatives who have minimal, if any, experience as practising teachers.

Until there are significant structural changes schools will continue to underperform, students will continue to suffer, and the nation’s cultural capital and productivity rates will continue to decline.

The first step is to realise there is no magic bullet and one-off reviews and reports focusing on a single issue like the curriculum, teacher training, how teachers are rewarded, and classroom pedagogy will achieve nothing.

What determines school effectiveness and student achievement depends on a number of complex, interrelated factors that have to be addressed as a whole and at the same time.

Secondly, schools need to be freed from provider capture and what Michael Gove did when the British Secretary of State for Education derided as the ‘blog’. Schools need greater autonomy and flexibility and less bureaucratic red tape and interference from on high.

The curriculum is overcrowded while the superficial and criteria-based diagnostic assessment and reporting regime forces teachers to spend weeks writing voluminous descriptive reports. This is ineffective and takes energy away from teaching.

It should not surprise, proven by research by Australia’s Gary Marks and overseas academics including Ludger Woessmann and Eric Hanushek, giving schools greater autonomy and flexibility allows non-government schools to outperform government schools.

The cutting edge of reform overseas involves charter schools in America, city academies and free schools in England plus charter schools in India. Such is their popularity in disadvantaged communities, enrolments are oversubscribed.

For far too long Australia’s education system has fallen victim to progressive, new-age fads including open classrooms, process and inquiry-based learning, student agency, teachers as facilitators, and a curriculum driven by neo-Marxist inspired Woke ideology.

Schools have also been infected with the soft bigotry of low expectations where disadvantaged students are expected to always underperform. It’s time to stop experimenting with unproven fads and ensure all schools embrace rigorous standards and high expectations.


We live in a Nanny State

It doesn’t matter whether you are discussing the UK, Australia, some European country, or any other country. Whenever the state has started to dictate social, economic, and commercial behaviour – serious problems have followed. These usually include loss of freedom, loss of living standards, higher costs, and dislocation of social cohesion.

The nanny state certainly does initiate many changes, often by regulation rather than legislation. It is the bureaucrats who introduce changes, changes which are often not welcome by society in general and frequently by those who are unjustly penalised by regulations that favour some, usually big business, to the detriment of a larger number, usually small business and consumers.

The politicians do, of course, try to implement their nanny state controls. The overreach seen in the Covid pandemic is a perfect example. Politicians of all persuasions introduced draconian laws and regulations, supposedly to keep us safe, but actually to control what we – the general populace – could do, when we could do it, and for how long. They even went so far as to dictate what we should inject into our bodies on pain of being excluded from our freedoms in society and our ability to work.

We see it still in the energy problems which we are now experiencing. The world has plenty of recent examples of government decisions that are adversely impacting on energy supply and cost. There is no shortage of energy and there could be a way to transition to a lower carbon dioxide emitting power generation system, but our nanny state knows best and despite all the evidence to the contrary they are pushing ahead, full bore, to have coal-fired power stations shut down and renewables built. There is no coherent plan for the transition, mainly because the federal government doesn’t actually own any power generation or distribution assets and doesn’t understand the economics of the energy system. In fact, they don’t seem to understand the basics of economics. When you make something essential scarce – the price will rise and those who are least able to afford the cost will bear the brunt of the disruptions.

The nanny state is pushing the unproven climate warming due to the burning of carbon fuels, and destroying not only our low-cost energy but our competitiveness in the world. It doesn’t, and probably cannot, state what the targets are in measurable numbers, how these targets were determined, how they are measured, and where we are in achieving those targets. Even worse, they do not consider what is happening in the world, the large uncontrolled emitters, the piddling effect on either increasing or decreasing our carbon dioxide emissions on the world’s atmospheric carbon dioxide.

If you wish to consider other areas just think of safety. Many safety procedures actually do little to improve safety, they just add cost. Safety is best managed by explaining the issues to the people doing the work, providing them with the necessary tools and equipment, and then getting out of the way. Not all situations are identical and the experienced person directly involved can often make the best decision. Consider our disruptive method of roadside working with our peers overseas.

We can also look at housing standards. These are often designed to suit a worst-case situation, increasing costs with no benefit to most. They rarely constitute best building practice for heating, cooling, site conditions, suitable materials, latest technology etc. Or the restriction of certain work to licensed practitioners, practitioners who frequently ignore the regulations, who may not have maintained their knowledge of the latest technologies, and who are given carte blanche to charge high prices for simple work which can be performed by any number of other people with the necessary knowledge and skills. Trade skills and regulations can be learned by anyone.

There are some areas in which the state could and should be involved because private enterprise may have difficulty in providing the service at a price that is affordable to all. These include major infrastructure, such as roads and bridges, transportation systems, sewage collection and treatment, water supply, energy supply, and communications. That doesn’t mean that the state has to own or operate the service, they just have to make sure, in some way, that it is available to everyone at a standard price.

No, the nanny state has not shown that it knows best. It hasn’t even shown that it properly understands. The state should set the basic standards and then the enterprise of people will deliver, at both the best price and a suitable quality. The people will adjust their society to suit the prevailing conditions and the nanny state should just follow suit with the appropriate legislation. That is the correct order of things.

https://spectator.com.au/2022/10/the-nanny-state/ ?


The cult of absolutism

How often have you been told that balance is essential? Balanced opinion, balanced diet, and everything in moderation. Well, think again, because the new cult of absolutism won’t stand for it.

Do you want to discuss inequality? It must be zero. Do you want to debate harm from Covid? Must be zero. Gender inequities? Zero. Emissions? That would be Net Zero… When you subscribe to these absolutes there is no room for compromise or tolerance. The end justifies the means. Every single time. Zero deviation. Zero discussion. Zero empathy.

This new world order is infecting every part of our lives, right down to the functioning of our critical energy systems. From the politicians creating policy, to the boardrooms complying, right through to the bureaucrats enforcing it – our electricity system is undergoing a zero-logic makeover.

Take Queensland’s glossy ‘brochure’ announcement that spending $62 billion (more likely double that) to close some of the lowest-cost electricity generators on the planet will save consumers $150 per year by 2032. Ironically, Queensland residents were recently treated to a ‘cost of living rebate’ worth $175. Zero relief for businesses though, with state-owned hydro generators setting the wholesale price more than any other.

New South Wales Deputy Leader Matt Kean believes wind and solar generators should have zero exposure to low wholesale prices. He’s designed a scheme ensuring these ‘cheap new generators’ can opt into a guaranteed minimum wholesale price, thus avoiding the black hole in the market he created.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews must believe he can duck down to Coles and fill the trolley with Duracells because his government recently announced the world’s largest battery storage target. Andrews hopes this will create over 12,000 jobs, but there are zero cars parked in neighbouring South Australia’s infamous, and now ‘not-so-big’, battery.

If you are looking for regulators, politicians, or the media to provide a cost-benefit analysis, a detailed plan, or even a robust debate on these matters, your expectations are exceeding their capabilities. Nobody can even produce the napkins on which these plans have been hatched. You should have zero confidence in any statement originating from politicians on the electricity system, and unfortunately this applies to bureaucrats and agencies managing the system ‘in the best interests of the consumer’. Those behind these schemes display zero interest in the consumer, except as a means to an end.

A recent example is Daniel Westerman, head of AEMO (Australian Energy Market Operator), in an interview with Angela Macdonald-Smith. As the ‘market operator’ AMEO receives offers for electricity generation in time, money, and volume; tells every generator what to generate and when; and calculates how much each generator gets paid. Macdonald-Smith offers zero challenge when Westerman frets:

‘The events of the winter really have reinforced the need for Australia to continue to urgently invest in the transition towards firmed renewables with efficiently delivered transmission.’

Westerman’s zero-care for consumers is matched only by his opinions on areas for which he bears no responsibility, as MacDonald-Smith writes:

‘Westerman highlighted the need for action in four areas in particular; building low-cost renewable generation; putting in place sufficient firming generation to support peak demand when renewable generation is low; getting transmission built efficiently and in as timely a fashion as possible; and improving the stability of the grid and equipping it to deal with a high penetration of renewable energy.’

This is the same guy who pretty much on his first day of the job declared we’d be dealing with a 100 per cent renewable grid for 30-minute periods by 2025.

Thus, the tally of zeros increases because there are zero other countries in this predicament. One might consider Germany and California to be on the way. The cold 2022 European winter, without Russian gas, will prompt some changes; but more temperate California is losing people and businesses fast.

What conclusions can be drawn if we continue down this path of absolutes?

There will be zero baseload generators, at least those owned by Origin, AGL, and the Queensland taxpayer. Gas and batteries are hoped to fill the 20,000 MW gap when it’s not windy or sunny – that’s the current plan.

Zero renewable developments will be knocked back – the state and federal targets are too large and the timeframes too short for any dallying with environmental assessments, community engagement, or feasibility studies. Our federal Environment Minister decreed, godlike, that she will allow zero extinctions. Hopefully, she will be faced with many difficult decisions.

There will be zero accountability at the top end when power bills remain high. When regular people are subject to rationing, big industries pack up and disappear, or food suppliers continuously edge up prices, those in charge will just say ‘it’s the cheapest new generation, build more’.

And sadly, zero care for people freezing in winter.

How long can this flawed reasoning persist? Perhaps a better question – why is the reasoning so flawed to begin with? I believe the key lies in the personal values of those in authority. If you value people, their wellbeing, and opinions, you display care. Care’s neighbours are empathy, compromise and goodwill. Conversely, a lack of care exposes limited appreciation for others. Without care you are only a stone’s throw from cruelty.

This cult of absolutism and zero worshipping demands tyranny. Fight back, use care.

https://www.spectator.com.au/2022/10/the-cult-of-absolutism/ ?


Also see my other blogs. Main ones below:

http://dissectleft.blogspot.com (DISSECTING LEFTISM -- daily)

http://antigreen.blogspot.com (GREENIE WATCH)

http://pcwatch.blogspot.com (POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH)

http://edwatch.blogspot.com (EDUCATION WATCH)

http://snorphty.blogspot.com/ (TONGUE-TIED)

http://jonjayray.com/blogall.html More blogs


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