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Issue #1765      February 15, 2017


In a speech at the Canberra Press Club Malcolm Turnbull repeated the claim that school funding had increased by 50 percent in the past decade. Not so, according to the NSW Teachers Federation President Maurie Mulheron. A NSW government analysis of federal education spending for the period of 2000-2013 showed school spending had increased only 0.97 percent, which was significantly lower than the real per capita economic growth of 1.48 percent over the same period. More importantly, any increase during this period was not distributed according to need. Since 2014, the Gonski funding agreement has seen funding in NSW schools increase. However, the total recurrent funding increase is to be rolled out bit by bit over a six-year period. By the end of the 2016 school year, only 18 percent of Gonski additional funding had been allocated to schools. “Turnbull’s claim of a 50 percent increase in school funding must be one of those ‘alternative facts’ we’ve been hearing about”, Mulheron said. “The reality is that his government has opposed the Gonski needs-based schools funding model since day one and is still refusing to fully fund it beyond 2017”.

“It’s been well established in research overseas that when you get more prisoners than there is space available to fit them, you get an increase in violence, especially among younger prisoners,” said the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research director Don Weatherburn. He pointed out that “in NSW over the last 25 years both major political parties have simply tried to outdo each other on law and order. The fear of being thought of as being soft on crime and be attacked by talkback radio hosts and the tabloid media pushed the parties into demanding tougher and tougher penalties.” Prisoner numbers reached 12,729 in December in a system designed for 11,000 inmates. There are 4,388 people on remand, in custody pending trial. The District Court is so busy that people have to spend more time on remand. The Bureau report also noted that NSW prisoners have the lowest out-of-cell hours in the country – an average of 7.8 per day. Access to some services and resources were deteriorating. It seems that more money is being put into building more jails than on rehabilitation. The NSW government will spend $3.8 billion funding 7,000 new prisoner beds. That includes 2,800 in the next three years. At the same time skills programs are being dropped and teachers made redundant. Not a good recipe for rehabilitation.

Last week our dear leaders were back at work. There are so many international and domestic problems to discuss and make sensible decisions about. What do they do? They start the year by slanging at each other. And here is the problem: who cares if Turnbull does not like Shorten. Parliament House is their place of work and they should not waste time trying to out-bully each other. We are over it – it’s vulgar and disgusting. There is an old expression – “conduct unbecoming”.

Next article – Culture & Life – It’s NATO, not Russia

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