30 May 2017

Government funding of education simplified?

Who gets the biggest slice?

Money is not always distributed equally.

The reason some schools get more than their fair share is to do with how the money is distributed after governments hand it over.

Even though the Commonwealth government decides how much money each school should get, it doesn't get to decide how much actually goes to each school.

The Commonwealth gives the total amount to the state and territory governments and organisations like the Catholic education system — which then distribute the money to individual schools.

Those systems do not have to follow the Federal Government's defined amount that goes to each school, they just need to distribute the money on a "needs basis" according to their own formulas.

That means there are eight different state models, eight different Catholic system models and lots of other models in the other private school systems for distributing Commonwealth money.

The Catholic school system has come in for criticism for giving more money to wealthy schools at the expense of poor schools.

Funding for some of the top richest schools is still based on an old system. To date no government federally has had the guts to bite the bullet and bring them into the new system.

A new medical system is being considered, its even been given a name."Commonwealth Hospital Benefit"

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Our secretive government is still planning cuts to the health system.
A high powered departmental group is giving consideration to a new “Commonwealth Hospital Benefit” payment system. It would abolish the private health insurance rebate.
The Health Minister and the PM categorically rejected the idea. It will never become their government’s policy.
If so why was it still being discussed by senior bureaucrats?
Secretary of the Department of Health, Martin Bowls told senate estimates, he would not walk away from his bureaucrats working for the future of Medicare.
Lying to the people is one sure way of loosing the next election, you'd think they'd have learnt after the Abbott debacle.

29 May 2017

Mediocre man, aren't we all. Except of course politicians?

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Confessions of an overconfident, mediocre man

A man stands confidently in a suit.PHOTO: Studies have consistently found that men overestimate their abilities and performance. (Pexels.com)
I can't really put my finger on the precise moment I embraced my own male mediocrity. It was more a dawning realisation.
Be it striding confidently onto stage to deliver a lecture with minimal preparation, having the sheer audacity to think I can pull off live TV or radio, or even sharing my thoughts with you here, its warm embrace is always with me.
In fact, I wear my mediocrity — or at least the confidence that comes with it — like armour. Most blokes do. It's almost a defining male characteristic.
And yet a growing body of research shows my masculine mettle is actually costing men, women and organisations dearly.
Thanks in large part to their brazen over-confidence, mediocre men are being promoted to senior roles — in science and other fields — ahead of vastly more qualified women, damaging productivity, research excellence and stunting everyone's performance as a result.
The good news, however, is that a reckoning is coming: evidence suggests the days of the mediocre man running the show are numbered.

Confidence as a proxy for competence

Journalists Katty Kay and Claire Shipman have coined this measurable effect — that is, the notion that men are more self-assured than women — the confidence gap.
Success, they write in their book, The Confidence Code, "correlates just as closely with confidence as it does with competence".
In other words, confidence has somehow become a proxy for competence as a basis for success.
Indeed, numerous studies support their thesis. A 2011 study on The Emergence of Male Leadership in Competitive Environments found that men have a natural tendency to overrate their past performance on maths tasks by 30 per cent.
Ernesto Reuben, one of the study authors, almost apologetically described this behaviour as honest overconfidence

How do you kill suicide bomber after he's committed suicide?

This is a light bulb thought that needs more thought. A different idea would be to have the death penalty for all those directly involved or fixed term sentence's in prisons where they have no contact with other prisoners who could be radicalized

BRITISH independent politician Janice Atkinson has demanded the United Kingdom reintroduce the death penalty — for suicide bombers.
“Much needs to be done to eradicate this evil,” she said in the wake of the bombing that killed 22 people at a pop concert in Manchester earlier this week.
“But there is one simple step which we can take now: we must bring back the death penalty.”
UK pollie Janice Atkinson wants the death penalty for suicide bombers. There’s just one teeny, tiny insignificant little flaw with this plan.
UK pollie Janice Atkinson wants the death penalty for suicide bombers. 
Ms Atkinson once stood for right-wing populist party UKIP, which was one of the key advocates for Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union.
She was kicked out over an expense scandal for which she was later cleared.
“Many will argue that I’m calling for revenge killings, motivated by hatred. Others will argue that I’m inhumane, that we live in a civilised society.
“This is the first time I have called for this. For decades I have shifted in both directions; taking any life is wrong; it’s right to execute certain types of killers, but what about miscarriages of justice?”
She made it clear she knows there’s a tiny little flaw with her plan.
“Then there will be those who say that the death penalty is not a deterrent, that the warped perpetrators want in any case to die,” she told the media.
“None of the above arguments stand up. Not now. We are at war and war crimes and terror cannot be given any quarter or allowed any glimpse of victory.”
However, indicated she believes something drastic should be done.
“I’m not wringing my hands trying to find answers, I’m a politician, it’s my job to come up with answers.”
Almost 60 people are still receiving treatment for injuries sustained during the blast at Manchester Arena, when 22-year-old Salman Abedi detonated a deadly device.

Mental health plans, management plans for chronic diseases are of no importance under according to the budget. Is this for real?

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Devil in the detail: 23 million GP services delayed in Turnbull's Medicare thaw
By Adam Gartrell

The Medicare rebate freeze will remain in place for tens of millions of GP services – including mental health plans and chronic disease management – for another three years under little-known details of the Turnbull government's budget.

A gradual thaw in the deeply unpopular indexation freeze, which doctors claim has forced them to increase prices and in some cases abandon bulk-billing, was the centrepiece of the government's health budget earlier this month. But doctors and the federal opposition are now accusing the Coalition of trying to sneak out details that show the thaw will be slower than advertised.

Under Health Minister Greg Hunt's agreements with doctors' groups, indexation will be reapplied to bulk-billing incentives, visits to the doctor, allied health services and a small number of diagnostic imaging services over four years.

Mr Hunt has in particular trumpeted the thaw for GP consultations from July 2018.

But Health Department figures released subsequent to the budget show indexation on 113 GP benefit items, which add up to about 24 million services a year, will remain frozen until July 2020.

The delay, which was not detailed in the budget papers or in the government's "compacts" with the Australian Medical Association and the Royal Australian College of GPs, applies to common services such as mental health plans, management plans for chronic diseases, pregnancy support, prolonged and after-hours consultations and residential management.

Brad Frankum, the president of the NSW AMA, said the arrangement was news to him.

"I think it is something they have tried to push through very quietly," he said. "The problem with this arrangement is that it's basically saying let's not reward this type of quality care service. The message it sends is that these items are not important."

But a spokesman for Mr Hunt said 78 per cent of GP services by volume would be indexed in 2018.

"This is exactly what was agreed with, announced by and welcomed by the RACGP as part of a broader partnership set out in written compacts," the spokesman said. "We have a rock-solid commitment to Medicare. Bill Shorten on the other hand has become so desperate for a health policy he's turned to attacking the nation's doctors."

Mr Shorten told the AMA's national conference on Friday the government's thaw was "cash for no comment", which has been interpreted as an attack on the AMA for accepting the government's staged approach.

Speaking at the conference in Melbourne on Saturday, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said: "Our approach to lifting the freeze is responsible. It targets those services that matter to Australians the most."

But Labor's health spokeswoman, Catherine King, called the delay on non-standard GP services an "unbelievable insult" to patients and doctors.

"This is the secret the Turnbull government hid from the Australian people on budget night – their GP freeze won't be fully lifted until 2020," she said. "This is proof that this was a health budget of smoke and mirrors."

The rebate GPs receive on a standard consultation has been frozen at $37.05 since December 2014. Out-of-pocket costs under Medicare have increased by 34 per cent in the past three and half-years.

27 May 2017

Political correctness has gone mad

Political correctness is killing humour, and that’s no joke

STULTIFYING political correctness is slowly but surely killing our sense of humour. And the creeping dark tide of identity politics will soon make dressing up a thing of the past. Are our efforts to placate noisy minorities destroying our ability to have fun?
This week a friend of mine saw the Village People in concert. I don’t know how many original band members from the late 1970s still perform in this 2017 version (not many, I suspect), but timeless hits like Macho Man, YMCA and In The Navy still had audience members dancing the disco moves so popular 40 years ago.
Although my friend had a great time, his Village People experience was marred somewhat by his attire (or lack thereof). Prior to the concert he visited a well-known costume shop in Melbourne’s CBD. Previously he’d seen in the window a fringed buckskin Native American costume complete with feathered headdress. For reasons best known to himself, my 41-year-old friend wanted to attend the concert looking like the Village People’s Red Indian band member.

Unfortunately he encountered a young shop assistant full of righteous political correctness. She told my friend in no uncertain terms that because he was clearly a white male of European origin, it’d be “culturally insensitive” for him to impersonate a Native American.
I don’t know how many American Indians live in Melbourne, but I suspect the number can be counted on one hand. How is it remotely possible that someone wearing a feathered headdress in honour of a musician he admires can insult a race of people — on the other side of the earth, no less?
Taken to its extremes, this “culturally insensitive” argument must also ban kids playing cowboys and indians. Or is the correct term for this innocent childhood pastime now “evil white settlers persecuting innocent natives”? The mind boggles.
Back to my friend. He also considered attending the concert dressed as the Village People’s helmet-wearing, sunglasses-toting and tough looking construction worker.

But another problem then presented itself. Even though as children we had no idea about the band members’ sexuality, as adults we learnt that just about every musician in the Village People was gay.
My friend is married (to a woman), has three children (conceived the old-fashioned way) and is openly straight. Would it also be politically incorrect for him to dress as a gay man?

Politicising the CSIRO is below the belt:- CSIRO and the politics of data.

CSIRO and the politics of data
MAY 26

Political footy: The CSIRO's data research unit Data61 needs more autonomy

You have to wonder how the CSIRO found itself used as an elaborate prop in the delivery of a mean-spirited and pointless political wedge via Treasurer Scott Morrison’s second budget.

Can you imagine commissioning the brightest taxpayer-funded data analytics minds to attack an under-class of fellow citizens? The government did and it is shameful.

The government plans to apply drug-tests to “randomly” selected welfare recipients. Yet it will harness the CSIRO and its Data61 unit to use “data-driven profiling” tools to ensure the targets of these tests are anything but random.

Of all the challenges facing the world, this is where Australia chooses to apply its publicly-funded data analysis powers.

The CSIRO declined to respond to legitimate queries about its involvement in the initiative from InnovationAus.com. It has gone utterly silent, politically whipped, and apparently having forgotten its purpose.

There is an issue of public trust here. If the CSIRO cannot explain its role, if it cannot make sense – for general consumption – of the profound technology changes that are influencing our society, public support for the organisation will continue to erode.

It boasts on its website that; “We do the extraordinary every day. We innovate for tomorrow and help improve today – for our customers, all Australians and the world.”

How exactly does steering the government to potential clusters of drug users among welfare recipients involve innovation and improving the lives of all Australians? Especially at a time when there are much greater existential challenges facing the nation and the planet.

Nowhere is this national conversation more important than in the data sciences, the information sciences, at the CSIRO business unit Data61. The research undertaken by Data61 has the potential to impact each of us, every business, every school, every hospital.

To achieve this full potential, Data61 must also lead the national conversation on the importance of information and the impact that technology will have on us all. It must help parents understand what the future looks like, and what school subjects will best equip their children to deal with it. To help small businesses and major enterprises understand what they need to do to engage, to survive and thrive in a data-driven world.

Data61 is a critical asset for Australia. It is building the skills and capacity that will drive new industries – and jobs – across an economy that is in rapid transformation.

But against a backdrop in Australia where five million jobs will be lost in the next decade because of automation (according to CEDA), Data61 has got to be able to explain the Why and How, in order to bring the community along. This is so important.

Yet, Data61 treats communications as an afterthought instead of a core mission. It is entirely reactive. And even in this it is poor.

Right now, in Australia, we are struggling to build mainstream thinking around these issues. The communications component is fundamental. It is not an ancillary function, it is central. The impact of technology, of automation, of data analytics needs to be the national barbecue topic.

There was always going to be a point of reckoning, where outsiders stood back and judged whether the merger of the independent ICT research agency NICTA with the CSIRO’s digital productivity flagship was a good idea.

From where I’m standing, you would have to say no. To delve into ancient history, NICTA was set up in the Howard era as Australia’s response to the original dotcom boom. There was a reason it was set up outside of CSIRO – because of John Howard’s and Richard Alston’s (then communications minister) suspicion of CSIRO’s deep inertia.

When NICTA was folded into the CSIRO, CEO Larry Marshall said he hoped NICTA culture would influence the CSIRO, rather than it simply be consumed into the larger organisation.

If this has happened it is not visible from the outside. From here it looks like the stuff that is meant to be fast moving. Has. Slowed. Down.

Watching Data61 chief executive Adrian Turner is like watching a man running through treacle. You can see the incredible effort, but not the movement.

He has a giant task, and knows there is a finite window of time. Australia will either restructure itself to tap the opportunities on offer, or it will struggle. That will make life a bit harder for everyone in this country.

Data61 needs more autonomy, not less. I know ‘agile’ as a term has become a parody, but this is an organisation that cannot perform its service to the country under the same strictures which bind the rest of the CSIRO so tight.

23 May 2017

Does this face portray the truth...Mmmmm?

Is Duttons department head from the same ancestry as him, because he definitely has that potato head look about him?
Mike Pezzullo wears black framed spectacles, a brown suit and striped tie as he crosses his arms in a senate estimates hearing.
Department secretary Mike Pezzullo corrected(told the truth) today after his boss Dutton blurted out a fictitious story originally about what happened on Manus. 

22 May 2017

The budget and just who's really paying...The workers and its going up every year...The rich are to pay less, here's the figures.

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The budget is rocket science, its the detail that's hidden!
Part of an article By Ben Hillier
The Treasury estimated that by 2024 the overall tax rate of a person on half the average wage would jump from 10.3 to 17.8 percent – a 73 percent increase. By contrast, the tax payments of someone on the average wage would increase 21 percent; for someone on twice the average wage, they would increase 12 percent.
It’s important to note that those on the average wage (or above it) make up only a fraction of all income earners – about 15 percent according to the Australia Institute, a think tank. So when the government last year announced a rise in the threshold for the second-highest tax bracket from $80,000 to $87,000 per year, Scott Morrison lied when he called it a win for “middle income Australians” against bracket creep.
That will be true in perhaps 15 years, once inflation increases the nominal value of wages and more of the population are pushed up the income scale. But for now it is $1 billion per year relief for the wealthiest people in the country.
By contrast, according to Deloitte Access Economics, the budget expects that the number of taxpayers earning less than $87,000 will increase by about 3 percent over the next five years. Yet income taxes collected from them will increase by 18 percent – an extra $11 billion a year by 2021.
The assumptions about wage increases underpinning these figures might be unrealistic. As many people have pointed out, wages are growing at historically low rates, so bracket creep will occur more slowly than projected. But that only underlines that workers are damned while wages stagnate, and damned in a different way if they grow.
While it raids the wages of the working class, the Coalition has locked in $2.3 billion in business tax exemptions and concessions, the $1 billion a year tax cut for the rich and more than $25 billion of company tax cuts. Its full program of corporate tax cuts would cost more than $65 billion over a decade. And we now know that in 2027 the cost would be $15 billion and grow each year after that.

Field Marshal Dutton(future PM?) bashes refugees once again by extravagant claims they are all false refugees.

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 Refugee advocates are furious over the move, saying it punishes people who have been waiting patiently to submit their claims.
The Refugee Action Coalition's Ian Rintoul called the deadline "completely arbitrary" and said it was a cruel hoax on people whom the government has left in limbo.
"These people have been denied legal and has stopped funding English language support by this government," said Mr Rintoul. "They have systemically denied them the possibility of making an application. To suggest that they are unreasonably consuming taxpayers dollars is simply vicious."

Human rights lawyer George Newhouse said the move showed a "blatant disregard' for the processes of the law and the cost of legal aid.
"Peter Dutton and the Turnbull government are deliberately making the process of applying for protection as difficult as possible," the centre's Dominic Ofner said. 
It is simply beyond embarrassing that our government is doing everything it possibly can to deny basic rights to 7,500 people seeking asylum in Australia."
Branding people "fake refugees" before they had even lodged their applications is disgusting.

20 May 2017

Should we save journalism the European way.

Based on an article by Ben Eltham

Should Australia move towards a more European model of media regulation and subsidy, in which the state plays a prominent role in feeding the hand that bites it. Countries like France and Norway directly fund for-profit media companies, and yet still maintain media diversity and freedom of expression.
Norway’s recent bipartisan Commission of Media Diversity, for instance, recommended direct subsidies and tax breaks for newspapers and broadcasters, as well as grants to online media and investigative journalists.
While many journalists remain understandably uncomfortable about state funding of the private media, such an outcome may be preferable to the current trend towards declining trust, vanishing scrutiny and fewer and fewer paid jobs in journalism.

Fake news or not fake news that is the question?

18 May 2017

Are we living in a washing machine and being bombarded by the spin cycle.

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Based on an article by Paul Williams

We’ve been spun so many times we feel like we live in a washing machine.

“Though this be madness, yet there is a method in’t.”Politics in 2017.
While aggressive “spin” and “gotcha” political news grabs may win the daily PR battle, they ultimately risk losing the democratic war.
There’s little doubt voters’ disenchantment with “spin” — which so offensively reeks of “elite” politics designed for the game-players at the top end of town — is driving voters away from voting altogether.
At the last federal election, for example, more than 1.4 million enrolled Australian voters failed to cast a ballot.
That’s more than 9 per cent, or the worst result since 1925 and the introduction of compulsory voting.
I'm reminded of the following quote.
“My words fly up, my thoughts remain below: Words without thoughts never to heaven go.

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