Weekly salon 11/8

1. Preschool funding cut by $500 million

About the same as is going to be spent to save the Great Barrier Reef. No-one noticed until someone from the Mitchell Institute (a think tank at Victoria University) happened to be leafing through the budget papers. The Quality Agreement program for early childhood begun in 2009 is to be wound down and conclude from 30 June 2020.

    Director of the Mitchell Institute, Megan O’Connell, said Australia was already lagging the rest of the world by offering only one year of preschool for most children when two years was regarded as the international standard.

Australia ranks 23rd in the OECD in early childhood education (ECE) spending. Here we are from the NSW study A review of the effects of early childhood education:

Bad and getting worse. That study also indicates that ECE in Australia is overwhelmingly medium quality. A shame because quality programs make a difference.

    The OECD’s Program for International Student Assessment shows children who do not attend preschool rank about 450 points on a reading performance ranking by age 15. But children who do one year of preschool rank 480 and children who do more than two years rank over 500 points.


    “Apart from literacy and numeracy there are benefits for children from disadvantaged backgrounds,” Ms O’Connell said. “There are social benefits, how to be resilient, how to cope with setbacks, how to work in solitary and in groups.”

It’s about life chances, especially for the underprivileged .We’ve known that since the High/Scope studies in the 1960s.

This is the kind of stupidity you get with an elitist and uncaring government values limiting government expenditure over the lives of the people.

2. Labor plans to rein in expenditure on consultants

    Labor will expand the federal public service and cut back on the use of contractors and consultants if it wins the next election, an announcement that will likely cause panic across the big four accounting and consulting firms Deloitte, EY, KPMG and PwC that have collectively won $1.7 billion in work over the past five years.

There is a prevailing attitude in the Turnbull government, the ACCC and elsewhere, that the private sector can do it better, and more efficiently giving batter value for money. Capitalists don’t usually bother to get out of bed unless they can get a return of about 15%, so the improved efficiency has to be unbelievaby better to fulfil that promise. Often the profit comes from hiring staff from labour hire companies at rates about a third lower than the previous norm.

The latest is that the government is planning to privatise the visa processing system

    The Turnbull Government has already announced that multinational Datacom will be taking over the running of the immigration call centre, and now they are planning to privatise the entire Visa processing system. There are up to 3000 hardworking people whose jobs are at risk and are worried about their own future and the impact on the services they provide the Australian public.

I’m glad that Labor is also planning to scrap the ‘productivity dividend’. Research in the 19990s showed that the ‘salami slice’ method of downsizing was the most destructive of morale, yet that is what we have been doing for about 30 years that I know of. I recall Kim Beazley saying two decades ago that the practice had gone too far and should be dumped.

3. AFL comes up short on player safety

This link says Andrew Gaff and Andrew Brayshaw played golf together a few days before the former smashed the latter in the face in an off-ball incident. No doubt Gaff was sincere in his remorse, and Brayshaw says he forgives Gaff for the punch, but Gaff’s statement that he was aiming at Brayshaw’s body is laughable.

The AFL has hit Gaff with an 8-week ban, but that is nowhere near good enough.

Firstly, the principle should be that the perpetrators penalty should be longer than the victim’s absence from the game.

Secondly, the AFL has no red card option. The perpetrator should not stay on the field.

Also, the AFL should take a look at One punch law in Queensland and other jurisdictions. Intent and effect (ie. the damage done) comes into it, but on the night happened in radio talk-back an experienced lawyer said that if the AFL were serious, criminal charges and life suspension should have been the go. That would concentrate the mind of potential perpetrators wanting to go the biff.

4. ‘No basis for resignation’: Labor MP Emma Husar cleared of sexual harassment allegations

Linked above is a garden variety report on the outcome of the Emma Husar investigation. Importantly, it found that the publication of the alleged (fabricated) outrageous sexual misdemeanors “reprehensible”.

I completely agree. Unfortunately it was standard MO for Buzzfeed, who don’t bother to verify anything like that before publication. They believe that the public can make up their minds.

The fearless philosophers, Waleed Aly and Scott Stevens, had a go, and again tied themselves in knots. They seemed to thing the reportage was in the public interest and the Buzzfeed journalism ethical, even though it had the unfortunate effect of blowing up Husar’s career whether guilty or innocent. It’s hard to believe they had not heard of the basic ethical principle of ‘Do no harm’.

As the matter stands, anyone can invent any old rubbish and use media outlets like Buzzfeed to destroy people’s careers and do them and their families grievous harm.

I hope Husar sues for damages and wins.

Confidentiality was central to the proper handling of the issue, in the interests of the complainants as well as Husar. Stevens and Aly seemed to think that publication was good in that it flushes out further information. Again they should ask the police under what circumstances that tactic applies.

I wondered why the Labor Party was investigating this, rather than the Finance Department. I’d urge people to listen to Tony Burke talking to Patricia Karvelas.

The complainants went to the Finance Department, who didn’t want to know because they didn’t work there any more. Similarly with Fair Work Australia. The complainants then approached the NSW Labor party organisation, who took them seriously, commissioning lawyer John Whelan to investigate. Bourke said he didn’t know what was going on before he read the newspapers, and pointed out that nothing was served by him knowing until the report came out. You could say the same for Bill Shorten. It is important that neither interfered. Turnbull seems to have forgotten that he didn’t know about what was happening under his nose with Barnaby Joyce last year, when a bit of early intervention from him would have been appropriate.

5. Other stuff

Other topics I’ll try to handle in separate posts include population/immigration, where we hit 25 million, and a strange and I think important book from George Megalogenis.

I thought visitations to the archive would taper off. During the last couple of days they have more than doubled, running at about 180 per day.

31 thoughts on “Weekly salon 11/8”

  1. Tax cuts to the better off and business are less important than the things a good government should be trying to do like preschool education and saving the reef.
    I am sure i am not the only one who thinks that governments should start by working out what they should be doing and then think about the changes to taxes and charges required to do these things.
    I have no problem finding ways of reducing coast and, if appropriate, passing these savings on to the people of Australia. (Preferably in the form of a UBI that gives the same amount to all Australians. Definitely not in the form of tax cuts that benefited Malcolm and Pauline by something like $7000 p.a. and nothing to people earning less than $20,000 p.a.)

  2. Yeah, let’s have 5 years of Government preschool because parents are shit, imagine how we’d rank in the OECD !!
    Best if Government grab the kids straight out of the maternity wards, they’ve got the qualification certificates.

  3. At item 2 above:

    giving batter value for money

    At last! Politicians who appreciate the important issues: lowering the cost of fish ‘n chips, the staple food of us battlers!!!

    I dips me lid.

  4. $500 billion, ouch!

    Now corrected.

    Sir Jumpy the Socialist It’s not about parents being shit. Grow up and I’ll engage.

  5. This is a part of the statement made by Emma Husar on seeing a summary of the investigation report:

    I’ve always maintained that anyone has the right to have their complaints heard in the proper forum.

    Instead this has been trial by media, gossip and innuendo.

    I am gutted that the willingness of certain individuals, and certain parts of the media, to defame me on vexatious and unfounded accusations, has caused so much personal, emotional and professional damage to me, so much hurt to those close to me, and political harm to the party I love, have supported and worked so hard for.

    I am confident that, had I been afforded a proper opportunity to respond to all allegations in full, and without simultaneously been subject to public attacks to which I could not respond, I would have been able to put this behind me and to continue serving the people of Lindsay and working towards electing a Shorten Labor Government.

    As it stands, I have done what I could in the interests of the Labor party by announcing I would not recontest the seat of Lindsay.

    I did not mention in the post that there had been considerable discussion of this issue on Mark’s Facebook. Apparently new parliamentarians don’t get to choose their own staff, and the most experienced, best and brightest go to shadow ministers and other more senior pollies. That being said, it was clear that Husar needed some counselling on management style and what constitutes reasonable expectations. Apparently Whelan recommended such counselling as part of what he saw as Husar’s rehabilitation.

    All that got blown out of the water in the public crucification.

    Andrew Probyn’s account to Patricia Karvelas is one of the better reports.

  6. It never ceases to amaze the flip from defence to attack ( or vice versa ) when political tribalism is involved.

    Luckily I visit a few different tribes to be able to see it so often. The “ crimes “ are mostly irrelevant.

    Imagine, as a thought experiment, these exact same allegations were published about Peter Dutton or Josh Frydenberg, would you be fair minded enough to react the same way ?

    It’s a difficult thing to do but necessary if we want to reduce the partisanship political gap amongst all our Countrymen.

  7. Jump, it never ceases to amaze me that you think you can second guess how I would react, and take an opportunity to call me biassed.

    Not really, it’s form.

    I agreed with Barnaby Joyce that Vikki Campion should be able to walk across the street casually dressed without this appearing on the front page:

    I’m not sure I said anything at the time. I can’t cover everything.

    I did use this photograph, because it told us something that helped our understanding of the whole issue:

    Jump, the exact same allegations would never be published about Peter Dutton or Josh Frydenberg, so you are engaging in hypotheticals.

    BTW did you notice that there was an implied criticism in what I said about how new Labor pollies get their staff. I’m sure in future they will take some responsibility to see that new pollies get support in how to run an office.

    You may also be aware that Buzzfeed is normally considered left wing.

    And the leaking obviously came from inside Labor. Did I have to point that out?

  8. It’s a difficult thing to do but necessary if we want to reduce the partisanship political gap amongst all our Countrymen.

    It’s not that difficult for political leaders. Turnbull has made a conscious choice to go the opposite way. Exemplified this time, as Michelle Grattan says, Turnbull is trying to turn Emma Husar story into a Bill Shorten narrative.

    Turnbull says Shorten must have known because everyone else knew. “Everyone”, it seems, is Albo, who takes an interest in NSW party affairs. What a surprise?

    Tony Burke, manager of opposition business in the house, says he didn’t know. But no-one asks him except ABC RN’s Patricia Karvelas, who doesn’t listen because she’s too busy thinking of her next question.

    There, I’ve criticized the ABC in case you didn’t notice. They employ too many journos who don’t listen. It’s a house style for political journalism on the ABC. Goes back to Red Kezza at least.

  9. It’s a difficult thing to do but necessary if we want to reduce the partisanship political gap amongst all our Countrymen.

    Jump, I humbly suggest you practice what you preach. Of all the commenters here you are by far the most partisan.

  10. Brian.
    I’m not talking about the media, they’ll do what they do.
    I’m not speaking of politicians either, they’ll do what they always do.
    I agree with Waleed Aly in this instance that the moral obligation of the audience to be fair handed is the key to better governance. ( if that was his gist )

    If you want me to rummage around in the archives and post expressed invective over rumours about conservatives that go unquestioned, I could.

    You just gave up parallels to Barnaby, I didn’t. Other than Shorten calling for heads to roll and Turnbull to step up or step down I see no parallels.

    I could have written the same comment ( names changed to different politicians) on Catallaxy and gotten a similar response to yours.

  11. Also Brian, on the issue of bias.
    Of course you are, I know that coming here.
    You’ve pushed all your political and ideological chips onto ALP. Admitted to only ever voting ALP and even joining the ALP.

    I would have to be a dill not to realise that fact, I accept that.
    You realise you’re biased in favour of ALP right ?

  12. I think that the $444 million grant to the Barrier Reef Foundation may actually have been a good decision.
    I worked at one stage in a small, very successful, independent, not for profit that sets up and monitors co-operative research projects for the mining industry. The current description of its activities is:

    AMIRA International Ltd is a member-based organisation of minerals companies and suppliers which develops, brokers and facilitates collaborative research projects.
    Through this process a number of companies can jointly fund research and jointly share the benefits. This combined funding enables AMIRA to recruit the world’s leading researchers to address industry problems and opportunities and to conduct sustained research which leads to the development of a stronger industry research base.
    While AMIRA International does not carry out research itself, it brokers collaborative projects between industry and world-leading research providers by leveraging available government and industry funds.

    A key to its success is that it did not do any research itself and thus was an honest broker that researchers and mining companies could trust.
    What strikes me is that the Barrier Reef Foundation sounds very like the organization that I worked for and is doing the same sorts of thing. It is a job that research organizations such as CSIRO cannot do because CSIRO would be competing for the research funds. For example, their blurb includes: The Foundation was established in 1999 following the first mass coral bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef in 1998, and in alignment with the United Nations World Heritage Convention encouraging countries with world heritage sites to establish a national foundation with the purpose of inviting donations for their protection.

    We lead the collaboration of business, science, government and philanthropy – groups who would not otherwise come together – for the benefit of the Reef. Our success is due to the quality of institutions and people we bring together – harnessing advances in science, technology and industry to ensure a future for this global treasure.

    It is worth going to their link before leaping into the political game.

  13. John
    I’d recon most of that coin would go to their research partners.

    In any event, the political trick that’s resonating now is the binary taxation dilemma.
    Party A is cutting/ripping/slashing from X to give it to Y, when in fact all tax dollars go to consolidate revenue, no tax dollar is predestined.

  14. Admitted to only ever voting ALP

    Jump, I’d like to know where I said that, because it isn’t true, so I would need to correct it.

    I’ve got better things to do than engage on all the other stuff you threw up. Of course I have an ideological position, and I think I’m aware of that more than most, though not making a comment about anyone else commenting here.

  15. Jump, going back to your obsession about the state taking over parents’ role, we need to be clear what we are talking about with ‘early childhood education’ (ECE). The term in the Australian context is mostly about the educational experiences offered (ie. not compulsory) to four and five year-olds. Younger than that you have ‘childcare’, which is in the hands of different and less well-paid professionals.

    FWIW, I don’t like the notion of all-day institutional childcare. More often than not it is worse for the kids. Some parents use it out of economic pressure, because they feel they need two incomes, some women use it so that they can pursue and advance their careers with minimum interruption.

    I make no comment on what any particular person decides to do in their circumstances – it’s up to them. I would also note that some childcare centres offer high quality care, although that usually means fewer children per staff member, and is usually not cheap even with government assistance.

    The $500 million being ‘saved’ is about ECE, not childcare. The research indicates that such savings will cost the government more dollars in the long run, let alone the lost opportunities for the children.

  16. John, I can accept much of what you say about the Barrier Reef Foundation grant, but there are still issues of due process and evaluation.

    Frydenberg said they did due diligence, but you have to ask, along with Lenore Taylor on Insiders, what kind of due diligence it was if they didn’t talk to the Foundation.

    Also sending them the whole amount at the outset seems foolhardy. What evidence is there that the Foundation can scale up to what will be necessary?

    In my days in government even Commonwealth funding to the state went with some evaluation for accountability. I haven’t seen any of that here.

    In her first interview CEO Anna Marsden said that with 1.5C of warming 90% of the world’s reefs are cactus. The board has some good people on it, including Dr Russell Reichelt so we can have reasonable expectations that they may do some good.

  17. … when in fact all tax dollars go to consolidate revenue, no tax dollar is predestined.

    So glad to hear that none of your precious tax dollars go to support those dole bludgers you so despise.

  18. Brian
    “Admitted to only ever voting ALP”

    Jump, I’d like to know where I said that, because it isn’t true, so I would need to correct it.

    Sorry, I’m positive you did state that but can’t find it for you correct.
    But it does raise the intriguing question of who you voted for other than ALP, which I’ll not press an answer.

    As for the early learning for under 6yo, or over 6yo for that matter, homeschooling stats are pretty good.

  19. Spend them well??
    Didn’t you just make the point that they all went into consolidated revenue and consequently we as individuals didn’t “spend” them?

  20. No,no.
    The taking of tax is regulated,compulsory and goes to consolidated revenue regardless.
    The Governments redistribution is arbitrary.
    Your use of them is unregulated.
    Not even a thank you!!

  21. No,no.
    The taking of tax is regulated,compulsory and goes to consolidated revenue regardless.
    The Governments redistribution is arbitrary.
    Your use of them is unregulated.
    Not even a thank you!!

    I’m sure what you are trying to say is perfectly clear to you, but to me this is just meaningless word salad.

  22. Jump, there were 806,555 students in Qld schools in 2017.

    According to this site, there were 2580 students registered for home schooling. That’s about one in 312.

    Yes it is growing faster than the population.

    When I studied education Ivan Illich’s Deschooling Society was taken as a serious critique.

    It would be interesting to get out my old essays and have a new serious look at the concept. I’ve always said that making school compulsory was ethically fraught. There have to be good reasons for it, and there are, but that doesn’t change the basic coercion, which has its negatives.

  23. Jump, the very first time I voted, I voted for the Country Party as it was then, because that was what almost everyone did where I grew up.

    By the second time I had thought about it.

    I have voted Democrats and Greens in the senate. Remember once disliking my local Labor rep so much I would have voted Liberal, except that he was worse.

    I haven’t always been pleased with Labor. To put it another way, I’ve never been completely pleased with them either.

    To remind you, I joined Labor when Abbott became PM, but have been inactive and haven’t joined a branch.

  24. I’ve been contacted by a digital marketing agency looking to place sponsorships in certain sites. Their interest is in cars and the environment.

    That would be all well and good, but I don’t want their money, and told him so.

    The archive sites visited dropped to 20.

  25. Essential Report has Labor advancing from 51-49 to 52-48, with Shorten gaining a bit in personal ratings and Turnbull losing a bit.

    Newspoll was similar on the personal side. The TPP held at 51-49 for Labor, but the Oz scribes were negative about LNP being incoherent, divided and rudderless.

    CM had a Federal voting intentions poll in Qld, which came out 50-50. Sounds OK until you realise that last election it was 54-46 in favour of the LNP and at 50-50 they are likely to lose 7-8 seats.

  26. and what was this “fry hair” thing?
    Did he really try to fry his own hair?

    Curiouser and curiouser….

Comments are closed.