Archive for February 11th, 2009

The Bradley report’s social democratic delusion

According to Denise Bradley, it is

pathetic that lifting price caps — a minor issue no one had ruled out — had displaced debate about how to bring education sector funding up to a level that supported a modern services economy.

But as I argue in my new CIS Issue Analysis paper, which came out today, this is a major issue, and in fact identical to the issue of how funding reaches the level appropriate to a modern services economy. (I summarise some of the arguments in this newspaper article).

The Bradley report has no answers to key question such as

* how do we know what level of investment is necessary?
* if we can find that out, how do we ensure the investment occurs in a price-capped regime?
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VSU repeal bill introduced

Today Kate Ellis introduced the VSU repeal bill. Her second reading speech is here.

There are no surprises from last year’s in-principle announcement, though a little more detail. Spending the money on political parties or election campaigns for Australian parliaments or local governments is specifically prohibited in the legislation, but clearly wider spending controls are envisaged via guidelines.

However the larger red tape extravaganza will be created by requiring students to apply for a separate SA-HELP loan scheme, to add to HECS-HELP, FEE-HELP, OS-HELP and VET-HELP. Since my original post last year I have thought of a reason why they want to do this, which is avoid paying the upfront discount for those students who do not take out loans (under the current system, students get 20% off the student contribution amount for paying direct to the university, with the government paying the discount to the universities so they are neutral between payment options).

However, there must be a simpler way. Given the costs to taxpayers of the loan scheme, I would recommend a 25% surcharge for those who do not pay up-front.

Crikey group subscription

How much is a Crikey subscription worth? I reckon about 25 cents a day, and the only way to get it at that price is to join with Nick Gruen in a group subscription. Check out the details here, and email Nick at the address provided if you want to be part of it.