Canada Votes: Preview – The Maritimes

by on 2 September, 2015

FrontWith the Canadian election now exactly two months away, it is time to start looking at the possibilities on a riding by riding level and how they will stack up on election night.

The case for Fee Deregulation: A Lesson in Real Sustainability

by on 31 August, 2015

Alex Bedwany

Alex Bedwany argues that fee deregulation is actually about sustainability of our education and that the misinformation spread by the left needs to be countered with stronger conviction.

The past few years have seen left wing students around the country engage in intimidating, disruptive and sometimes violent action in protest of the Government’s attempts to reform the tertiary system.

It seems romantic doesn’t it; rallying students to fight in the trenches against perceived injustices towards them? The issue seems so black and white: a Government hell bent on narrowing opportunity to the rich and shutting out the poor. Of course, as with most policy issues, it isn’t as black and white as it seems.

Unfortunately, the government has failed to prosecute its case with the gusto it deserves. So the issue has been roundly seized upon by those who are intent on destroying any chance of the senate passing any meaningful reform.

The fact is that, under the Education Minister’s proposal, students will be secure in their pursuit of higher education. Their fees will still be subsidised heavily and the costs deferred until they earn a wage fitting of their effort. This is the line that has been pushed by the Abbott Government, albeit unconvincingly in the face a misinformation presented by those too blind to see the already proven benefits of reform.

Reason for Deregulation: Credit Bites Back

What leftist proponents of ‘heavily subsidised education at all costs’ don’t realise is, the tuition incurred over the course of a student’s time at university will be paid, in full, long after they have retired their HECS debt. Nothing is free. As taxpayers, the graduates will eventually be paying for the subsidies received by the succeeding generations. Some may not take issue with this “left hand owes it to the right” mentality, but several problems arise.

The first is fiscal sustainability. When differences occur across generations, such as an ageing population or a rise in the number of claimants on a program, the burden becomes fiscally unsustainable. This is not a ‘slight’ risk in the case of Commonwealth Supported Places, it is a guarantee.

Successive Federal Governments have committed to ensuring that, by 2025, 40% of those aged 25-34 years have a Bachelor’s degree or higher. Given the explosion in distance learning and the number of students now completing year 12, this is a target that is sure to be met, leading to higher costs if the Government continues to subsidise at current levels.

The government currently subsidises students on Commonwealth Supported Places to the tune of 60%, with students only having to pay 40% back though HECS, and even then, only when they earn over $50,000 a year. The Government’s plan would see government subsidy decreased to 50%. In the interests of fiscal sustainability as well as fairness, it is very reasonable to ask university students to contribute more to their education, as university students tend to earn 75% more than those without a university degree over their lifetime. And the facility to borrow from the government through the HECS system will still be there, providing students with an even better loan than what they will take out for a car, house or any other significant purchase.

The second problem, with the fact that government subsidises degrees heavily and sets caps on university degree costs, arises because of the misalignment of incentives that come naturally when a third party is footing the bill for the decisions of others. When the responsibility for fees is localised with the student, awareness of the consequences of not putting in an effort become stark. They are borne by the person responsible for making the decision.

Similarly, for those who switch in and out of courses, leaving behind credit that doesn’t go toward their final award (assuming they end up completing one), the cost is passed on to the taxpayer. While it is inevitable that there will be a significant portion of student who switch (it’s hardly fair to expect an 18 year old to make the right decision in every instance), it seems a strange idea to pass the cost of being indecisive on to those who are certain about their future.

Here’s one we prepared earlier: Full Fee Postgraduate Places

A system of deregulated fees, where universities are free to set fees and students can borrow from the Government and pay it back once reaching above a certain threshold, is in place within Australia’s postgraduate coursework system, and provides a great example of the potential for dynamism in the undergraduate tertiary market.

Australia’s postgraduate education sector has become an incredibly dynamic place, with programs evolving to cater for people who wish to change careers, further their existing knowledge or take advantage of new trends in the marketplace. This is contrasted with the undergraduate system which has coasted along with the same programs, where universities ride on the coattails of a good reputation (hardly an indicator of the ability to adapt to a changing workplace) or the fact it was established a long time ago. By deregulating fees, we allow universities to capitalise on their strength areas and compete on price to bolster their weaker subject areas.

Competitive pressures will ensure that prices aren’t unreasonable: which is why the left’s claim of $100,000 undergraduate degrees across the board is absurd. It’s precisely these competitive pressures that keep prices from going through the roof – just as they do for any of the products we buy (Personally, I’ve never seen toilet paper for $100k a roll – does it have some sort of price ceiling on it?). The fact is, most degrees will not cost anywhere near that, at most reaching between $35k and $60k. Where degrees reach $60k, people would be free to evaluate whether this investment will pay off in the future, and again have the facility to borrow from the government and pay it back once reaching a threshold, meaning no one is left disadvantaged.

Whenever consumers have choice they stand to benefit from a competitive marketplace – why wouldn’t we inject the same dynamism into education?

Originally published in the University of Sydney Conservative Club’s “The Sydney Tory”

Alex Bedwany is a vocal supporter of intelligent economic reform that slows the growth rate in Government expenditure and thus, taxation.
He holds degrees in Commerce and Economics from the University of New South Wales and is currently a Graduate student from the University of Sydney.

Joe Hockey: Budget, Tax Reform, Overspending All Solved!

by on 26 August, 2015

Australian Treasurer Joe Hockey declared today that he had solved Australia’s chronic budget deficit, spiraling overspending, and cumbersome tax code, and will take it easy and relax from now on.

Well, not quite. But how else can you explain Joe Hockey today joining Peter FitzSimons and Labor ACT Chief Minister Katy Gallagher to create a new parliamentary group to push for an Australian Republic.

Is this really the priority the Australian Treasurer should now be focusing on? Does he really have no other better use of his time?

This is beyond a joke.

TVA.

 

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Why the left and the right are wrong on abortion

by on 25 August, 2015

11651173_1125567404137282_902298289_nBoth the left and right are mistaken in arguing for government intervention with regards to abortion, argues Celeste Arenas:

There is an endemic problem in using the state for social outcomes. Groups with power always create groups with victims and it is bizarrely irrelevant whether this is done deliberately or by accident. When it comes to abortion, the lives of children and livelihoods of mothers are equally important and the rights of both should not depend on who holds the reigns of political power.

Those on the left fear that prohibiting abortion does nothing to end its practice; that it will simply drive women to seek dangerous and life threatening situations. Those on the right have concerns that pro-life doctors are legally obligated to provide referrals, essentially facilitating murder to keep their careers. A libertarian viewpoint believes both these perspectives are equally valid. Neither should be undermined simply because one has the authority to push the other side to oblivion.

So how involved are governments in the abortion industry? In America, Planned Parenthood receives $528 million in taxpayer funding annually. Whilst private funding also exists, the government is by far its largest source of revenue. It is ethically disturbing that whilst only half the population believes abortion is morally justified, the entire population is footing the bill. It’s one thing to commit evil, it’s quite another to condone it but it’s something else altogether when you’re actually paying for it to happen.

The recent uproar over Planned Parenthood’s sale of human body parts tells us something. If half a society believes the unborn child is a human being and if the costs of abortion are forcibly funded by the very same people, then there is nothing “pro-choice” about Planned Parenthood. Conservatives are right to push the defunding of Planned Parenthood completely. An abortion clinic can only call itself “pro-choice” when it is not funded by the taxpayer.

At the same time, many conservatives want tougher anti-abortion laws. They believe, like with drugs, prostitution and poverty, banning it by law will end it in reality. As a staunch Catholic, I would push for anti-abortion laws if I knew they worked. The actual statistics from the World Health Organization however, show a different picture. Prohibiting abortion across developed and developing nations does not significantly lower the rates of abortion. If this study is accurate, then criminalizing abortion will not help unborn babies to live. At best, it would punish one person for what two people are equally responsible for. At worst, an underground procedure would endanger the life of the mother and any potential children she may have later on.

Zoo Magazine the latest victim of nanny-state naysayers

by on 25 August, 2015

Last week Coles decided to remove copies of Zoo Magazine from its shelves amidst complaints that the magazine “teaches boys that girls exist purely for their sexual use.”

Sadly, the supermarket chain’s cowardice in bowing to the demands of self-regarding do-gooders who neither read Zoo, much less appear in its pages, is not a one off incident. It merely highlights the power of professional moralisers to use confected outrage as an excuse to impose their will on society at large.

Where offence is detected, moralisers have a modus operandi that is well practiced. Their first step is to attract attention by feigning maximum outrage, usually creating an online petition to give likeminded naysayers an opportunity to join their crusade. A nominal victim is useful fodder in the process, as is linking the moralisers cause to some universally reviled evil (sexism, racism et. al).

Once the case is mounted, moralisers usually have little trouble conscripting others to their cause. After all, what right-minded person could possibly condone the exploitation of the buxom young damsel’s that abound Zoo’s tawdry pages?

The final stage occurs when the facebook shares, retweets and other assorted modes of keyboard activism have reach critical mass. At this stage, moralisers prosecute their cause as no longer an opinion but a universal moral truth; one with the moral authority that rightly deserves to be imposed upon society at large.

Coles’ abandonment of Zoo Magazine has all these hallmarks. A 20 year-old checkout attendant at Coles claimed to feel ‘unsafe’ in the company of newsstands bearing Zoo’s glossy bikini clad covers. What’s worse, dealing with the depraved libertines who sought to purchase the debauched magazine sent our benighted checkout attendant into a dizzying state of moral disarray. She claims it made her complicit in ‘rape culture.’

Enter the feminist firebrands from ‘Collective Shout,’ who promptly set up a petition calling for Woolworths and Coles to abandon the sordid lads rag. Appeals to universal moral truth were in full force. Collective Shout argued that Coles and Woolworths had a ‘responsibility to the community’ to do the right thing in light of their commitment to ‘family values’. Of course, this contrived plea carries the unspoken threat that if Coles and Woolworths failed to act, they too would be complicit in enabling society wide misogyny.

These claims are alarming, to say the least. But is Zoo Magazine really the festering cesspit of moral turpitude its detractors make it out to be?

Sure, the magazine contains thinly clad models. These models are interviewed – not as objects, but as people – and the topics range well beyond sexuality. These models also choose to go in the magazine voluntarily of their own free will and are paid handsomely for doing so. Lets not pretend self-interest does not exist on either end of the transaction. Indeed, for those aspiring to a career in modelling or promotions, appearing in Zoo is no doubt a hefty boon.

Posing in revealing attire for movies, TV and print has been more or less the norm for both sexes for decades. Exposing skin can certainly be salacious. But conflating the fact that bare bodies arouse our most basic instincts with fuelling a sleaze culture that profits from the denigration of women is an Olympian leap in feminist logic that would make even Germaine Greer blush.

So lets think about the implications that lie beneath Collective Shout’s mealy-mouthed exercise in public enlightenment. The claim that Zoo degrades women infantilizes the models that choose to appear in its pages. It treats them as lacking the capacity to make their own decisions and portrays them as enfeebled pray to the lecherous eyes that feast on the magazine. Its claims are equally if not more disparaging of Zoo’s readership, suggesting that consumers of men’s magazines and perpetrators of sexual violence are one and the same.

None of this is not to say that Zoo has never been guilty of publishing things many would find unpalatable. Instead, it is to highlight that claiming among the most mild of men’s magazines promotes violence against women is a highly contestable position to take. It is exactly the type of contestable viewpoint where those who hold it have no right to enforce it upon the will of others.

When it comes to the balance between causing offence and the free exchange of ideas and opinions, Australia has traditionally favoured the former over the latter. This rests on the belief that the benefit to society from allowing people to do and say things which may be construed as offensive outweighs the detriment to those who may be offended by such actions. This stance is optimistic in the sense that it assumes we don’t need to censor acts or words capable of causing emotional unrest. The alternative view is that individuals can’t be trusted in the free exchange of ideas to make sound conclusions without the mediation of more enlightened arbiters of the common good.

To be sure, those who despise Zoo certainly have a right to express that opinion. But that is very different to using the tyranny of moral outrage to impose their values onto the lawful actions of others.

Guardians of public morality, seemingly anointed by nothing more than the grace of their good intentions have had more than their fare share of recent success. High-minded busybodies recently bullied Target into removing the perfectly legal video game Grand Theft Auto video game from its shelves in the name of protecting the fragile minds and consciences of the nations young. They also successfully lobbied for the visiting visas of American rapper Tyler the Creator and self-styled pick up artist Julien Blanc to be denied. Making a living off gangster rap can now join pedophilia and being a member of ISIS as disqualifying grounds for visiting the Commonwealth of Australia.

While the professionally outraged have no formal authority to impose their moral compasses upon the rest of us, the not-so-soft power of the social media lynch mob is enough to leave many thinking acquiescence is the easier path. However, for those who think freedom of conscience is too important to be laid to waste by nanny-state naysayers, the challenge is not just to ignore moral authoritarianism. It deserves to be called out for what it is, and resisted at every turn.

 

Canada Votes: Preview – The Territories

by on 19 August, 2015

FrontWith the Canadian election now exactly two months away, it is time to start looking at the possibilities on a riding by riding level and how they will stack up on election night.

Julie Bishop Is Not The Messiah

by on 19 August, 2015

unnamed-1-150x150-150x150Julie Bishop will not be able to lead the Liberal Party or the country until she learns to stand for something writes Alex Butterworth:

Recently there has been substantial praise for Julie Bishop; even suggestions that she should be made Prime Minister. Putting aside the issues with dumping an elected Prime Minister in their first term, Julie is simply not ready for the position. To exemplify why the Foreign Minister is not ready to lead her party and the country, we need only ask this simple question: What is her position on same sex marriage?

We just don’t know the answer. Julie Bishop doesn’t have a publicly stated position on same sex marriage beyond the party’s stated position of holding a plebiscite. On numerous other issues, Julie doesn’t have an opinion, or if she does, she hasn’t expressed it clearly and publicly. You might suspect that her private position is one thing or another, but without a publicly stated position one way or the other, most people assume  she holds the same position that they do, which is why people like her so much. She uses the power of people projecting themselves onto her to gain their support.

Same sex marriage is not the only issue where Julie’s view is not apparent. What are her views on climate change? On the ETS she managed to switch from Turnbull’s deputy to Abbott’s deputy despite them having completely polar views on the issue. She never expressed a view herself (at least not one that was different from the leader’s at the time). Julie was also a delegate to the 1998 Constitutional Convention on the republic, and her view on this fundamental constitutional issue is not clearly known. Many media commentators have assumed that she is a republican, but there is no written evidence of this position; no quotes, no articles, not records of votes. Julie Bishop abstained from voting at the 1998 Constitutional Convention, and wrote a lengthy academic article after the convention in which she again did not state a position one way or the other. As many others have done, the journalists have projected their own view onto Julie Bishop in the absence of her expressing one herself. These issues are just two examples, but it’s tough to find an independent view from Julie on any issue at all. Every view expressed is either a view already held by the leader or the party.

Having no personally stated position on the big issues makes Julie an excellent deputy, because she can support the leader’s position no matter what it is. It also makes her an excellent Foreign Minister, because foreign affairs is about diplomacy and compromise, as well as reaction to events rather than pushing a policy agenda through. However, the skills required to be Prime Minister are very different, and so far she has not shown leadership. She has not shown an ability to stand up for a position of her own without it already being the leader’s policy or the party’s policy. A Prime Minister should have a view even when it’s not clear what other people’s views on the issue are. When Julie is able to express a view independently of asking the leader what their position is, she might be in contention to be Prime Minister, but until then, she’s not the great white hope we might think she is.

Alex Butterworth is a technology lawyer and former president of the Australian Liberal Students’ Federation and the Western Australian Young Liberals. 

 

 

The case for fee deregulation: a lesson in real sustainability

by on 14 August, 2015

unnamedFee deregulation will allow universities to capitalise on their strengths and become vibrant and dynamic institutions of learning, writes AlexBedwany:

The past few years have seen left wing students around the country engage in intimidating, disruptive and sometimes violent action in protest of the Government’s attempts to reform the tertiary system.

It seems romantic doesn’t it; rallying students to fight in the trenches against perceived injustices towards them? The issue seems so black and white: a Government hell bent on narrowing opportunity to the rich and shutting out the poor. Of course, as with most policy issues, it isn’t as black and white as it seems.

Unfortunately, the government has failed to prosecute its case with the gusto it deserves. So the issue has been roundly seized upon by those who are intent on destroying any chance of the senate passing any meaningful reform.

The fact is that, under the Education Minister’s proposal, students will be secure in their pursuit of higher education. Their fees will still be subsidised heavily and the costs deferred until they earn a wage fitting of their effort. This is the line that has been pushed by the Abbott Government, albeit unconvincingly in the face a misinformation presented by those too blind to see the already proven benefits of reform.

Reason for Deregulation: Credit Bites Back

What leftist proponents of ‘heavily subsidised education at all costs’ don’t realise is, the tuition incurred over the course of a student’s time at university will be paid, in full, long after they have retired their HECS debt. Nothing is free. As taxpayers, the graduates will eventually be paying for the subsidies received by the succeeding generations. Some may not take issue with this “left hand owes it to the right” mentality, but several problems arise.

The first is fiscal sustainability. When differences occur across generations, such as an ageing population or a rise in the number of claimants on a program, the burden becomes fiscally unsustainable. This is not a ‘slight’ risk in the case of Commonwealth Supported Places, it is a guarantee.

The Time for VSU is Now

by on 8 August, 2015

 

11825642_480027035490598_4756637646190208338_n[1]Will Joseph addresses the need for VSU following the recent protests of Chris Pyne’s book launch by NUS and Socialist Alternative Students.

Prior to Christopher Pyne’s book launch in Melbourne starting, we saw some sickening behaviour from the National Union of Students & Socialist Alternative. These people injured police & damaged private property on our student fees; they do not care about students, all they care about is their unrepresentative socialist agenda.
These people also blocked people from going into the event; this is not their event to host. The sad reality of all of this is that every student from all three academic sectors at every campus at every TAFE & University associates with these people involuntarily. At the end of the day, the Student Services & Amenities Fee (aka the student tax) finds its way to the National Union of Students.

 

Students should feel angry about the way part of their fees are being used. Even though this is an involuntary tax, the policy specifically & strictly states that it cannot be used for political purposes. The majority of students aren’t on the extreme-left philosophies & they aren’t statists. The majority of students are simply trying to get a good education so that they can get ahead in life; students are not on campus to violently riot against politicians. These people take our money involuntarily & they still have deficits.

Anti-Deregulation Campaign Forces Cuts to Arts Majors

by on 6 August, 2015

resized UWA Student Rebecca Lawrence explains how the recent cuts to Arts Majors are a product of the very system that left-wing students fought to protect:

Despite a number of student protests, yesterday’s UWA Academic Council meeting confirmed the decision of the UWA Arts Faculty to discontinue its Gender Studies, European Studies and Medieval & Modern Studies Majors, effective as of 2016. The reasoning given by the Arts Faculty was simple: the majors were cut to save money.

The Faculty argued that the Majors were not popular enough to warrant continuing – that small class sizes meant that many of the core units were running at a loss to the University. This was because, even though these classes would frequently only attract enrolments of less than 10 students, the Faculty would still be required to cover the fixed costs of running a unit, including room allocation, administrative staff, lecturer’s salary, physical and online resources, and tutoring fees.

In a logical system, UWA would be able to solve this problem by adjusting the student fees for these courses to reflect the higher per-student running costs. In a logical system, students who really wanted an education in a specific field of the Arts would be able to pay their world-class University to deliver this education. In a logical system, UWA would be able to charge students what their top-100 degrees are worth, and students who valued this education would be allowed to pay the University to deliver it.

UWA, however, does not operate within a logical higher education system. Instead, UWA exists within a system of strict price regulation which places an upper limit on the amount that it can charge in student fees. In this case, the limit on what UWA is able to charge students to complete a Bachelor of Arts Major is far below the cost of actually running the Gender Studies, European Studies and Medieval & Modern Studies Majors. Because of this, these majors will cease to exist.