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An Independent Queensland Regional & Rural 

On-Line Publication

(Cairns... Far North Queensland)


Thank you for visiting my on-line office.

I appreciate your interest in the issues that effect not only Queenslanders, but all Australians.

Please let me hear from you about your views on the issues that matter to your Family, your Community and your State.


Selwyn Johnston



One person, with the support of the community, can make a difference





Education - Every child's right

Education and the National Competition Policy

Education - A National Disgrace


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Education - Every Child's Right

One would feel forgiven for thinking that part of our taxpayer dollar is being utilised for the education of our children. 

Not so, it seems! 

Depending on which sources you care to believe, at a minimum, approximately 30% of our children are leaving school... illiterate!

We must have a literate population who can speak, read and write the English language. It is not good enough that most Australians progress through life with a vocabulary of only a few hundred words. Basic English is not enough. 

It is impossible to utilise the best qualities of our young Australians if they are unable to express themselves clearly and precisely, understand written correspondence and prepare well-drafted letters.

The Education Department must initiate strategies as a matter of urgency to facilitate whatever it takes to ensure our children are equipped to enter the business world with the highest possible level of literacy.

Our children have a right to quality education and care that provides knowledge, skills and understanding that will enable them to participate effectively in culturally and linguistically diverse societies at national and international levels.


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Education and the National Competition Policy

"National Competition Policy" (NCP) and "competition policy reform" refer to the Federal Government's agenda of microeconomic reform in the public sector which is designed to open up public agencies to competition with other public and private sector organisations. This agenda is implemented through two major mechanisms:

Amendments to the Federal Trade Practices Act 1974 and related legislation, to broaden their purview to cover public sector bodies; and
Two inter-governmental agreements through the Council of Australian Governments (COAG), mirroring the Federal legislation at State and Local Government level - the Conduct Code Agreement and the Competition Principles Agreement.

The Government apparently intends to implement competition policy across most areas of the public sector, but initially in the clearly commercial areas of public sector activity. This will affect both higher education and the Vocational Education and Training (VET) sector.

A competition policy system is likely to:

Drive down wages and conditions in response to competitive pressures, in particular through contracting out.
Deregulate and destabilise public sector planning and provision of tertiary education.
Undermine quality of educational provision through the emphasis on cost cutting and through contracting out to organisations and companies not accountable through normal academic and collegiate processes.
Reduce access to, and equity in, tertiary education.
Force educational institutions to make available to private providers their infrastructure, services and resources.
Subject universities and colleges to prices surveillance laws, the general provisions of the Trade Practices Act, and a broad range of taxes and duties, in line with the private sector.
Rigorously enforce requirements that consultancy and commercial research be conducted on a full-cost recovery basis, removing the competitive advantage of universities and colleges, which not only benefits the institutions but provides a crucial public subsidy for research and development in the Australian economy.
Force institutions to adopt internal competitive tendering procedures for the provision of services between units and departments, causing job dislocation and increasing workloads for staff.
Encourage a commercial approach to education among public providers.
Encourage and facilitate privatisation.
Threaten the provision of educational services in non-metropolitan areas and in discipline areas, which are not commercially viable.
Provide a climate conducive to the introduction of up-front fees for all students.

The processes of accountability already in place provide effective means for ensuring that institutions are efficient and effective in their use of public funds and also that they maintain quality of educational provision.

The application of a competitive system will undermine these objectives rather than enhancing institutional performance.

Therefore, Australians must strongly oppose any moves to subject higher education and public TAFE educational provision to National Competition Policy. All concerned Australians must call on the Government to explicitly exempt these sectors from the application of the Competition Code at both State and Federal levels.


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Education - A National Disgrace

The Education of our children has become a national disgrace! Overcrowded classrooms, a lack of qualified teachers and a curriculum that lacks the basic 'reading, writing and arithmetic's' essentials, now sees some 30% of our children leave school totally unprepared for adult life. 

The rate of youth suicides in Australia is also a national disgrace, and increasing at an alarming rate, as a result of political failure by successive Governments. 

Again, taxpayer's money collected to provide essential public services including education MUST be allocated in sufficient amounts so as not to discriminate against those disadvantaged by a lack of teaching resources.



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Written and Authorised by Selwyn Johnston, Cairns FNQ 4870