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Could the Greens be the sensible choice?

By Syd Hickman - posted Wednesday, 6 April 2016

With the major parties and the media uniting in defence of handouts to the wealthy the Greens could go to the election as the only party advocating fiscally sound policy for the majority of Australians.

Greens leader, Richard Di Natale, has proposed abolition of the private health cover subsidy, saving billions of dollars that would be better spent on the public hospitals that most people rely on. Insurance would become truly private and would still enable those who wanted extra benefits to insure for them. The media and the major parties chose to ignore this announcement, despite experts providing supporting information spelling out how the subsidy had failed in its intent and was a waste of public money.

The silence from right wing commentators was to be expected. They see no problem in publicly funded private insurance because the wealthy, including themselves, benefit. But it appears the ALP also does not want to be associated with the more than half of all Australians who have no private cover, or the thousands abandoning it every week. Meanwhile the government is trying again to prop up private health with public handouts.


In education The Greens have yet to announce a specific schools policy for the election but they are generally supportive of public schools.

The contrast was made stark by a recent story in Sydney. The Sydney Morning Herald published information regarding the finances of Scots College. This was made public to defend the school Council from any suggestion of money problems at the school.

In 2015 the school charged fees of more than $30 000 per student and had a waiting list so could presumably raise fees even higher. It made a profit of $3.5 million and claimed top class sporting and other facilities, including a $100 000 "altitude elite training facility."

The journalist calculated the school was given $6.3 million in State and Commonwealth government funds in 2014.

So around half the government funding went to 'profit', after buying facilities that presumably train kids to climb very high mountains, or implement a now discredited idea that high altitude (low air pressure) sport training delivers long-term benefits in performance.

The media, including the ABC, left that one alone. When your kids go to expensive private schools who cares how more than half the population are going in the public system. The right wing think tanks were silent. It not a waste of taxpayers money if the wealthy benefit, only if funds are going to the mob.


And the ALP, of course, also let it go by. Best not to discuss realities of school funding when your image is so left wing but your family members are in private schools. Just talk endlessly about a magic pudding called 'Gonski'.

Now The PM is proposing no further Commonwealth involvement with public schools while continuing the massive handouts to extremely wealthy private schools.

This is all part of his argument that state governments should be more responsible for their own spending. But having said that the PM does not want to stop funding private schools because if states were responsible for all school funding they might decide to reduce the amount allocated to private schools. In other words the states should be responsible except where they could make the wrong decision in terms of wealthy peoples kids, and at that point the Commonwealth must step in to save the day.

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About the Author

Syd Hickman has worked as a school teacher, soldier, Commonwealth and State public servant, on the staff of a Premier, as chief of Staff to a Federal Minister and leader of the Opposition, and has survived for more than a decade in the small business world.

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