Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Even today they have new disasters: Court bungle to hit de factos.

1.03 pm February 22, 2012

Labor acolytes claim they are unfairly besieged with their Gillard - made leadership crisis.

They claim good governance stories should dominate,

Even today they have new disasters: Court bungle to hit de factos.
The Australian February 22 2012.

Then we have Barnet declares Gonski review a goner also 22/ 2.

There is serious contemplation as to whether Labor will manage [unused!] 1000 reviews,enquiries and mere ascientific research. The latter are generally pathetic attempts to justify various monolithic, mega - expensive white - elephants like NBN, Carbon tax / climate change. And the aeronautical skills of pigs.

Surely the end is nigh - whether Gillard, Rudd, Crean or an untainted backbencher is allowed to surface.


Court bungle to hit de factos as error throws property settlements into doubt

THOUSANDS of Family Court orders relating to de facto couples, including property settlements and maintenance agreements, have been cast into doubt by a major federal government blunder.
The government neglected in 2009 to arrange for the Governor-General to proclaim a start date for legislation that handed power to the Family Court to handle property and maintenance disputes between de facto couples. The mistake, which Attorney-General Nicola Roxon last night labelled an "unfortunate administrative error", means all such property and maintenance orders by the Family Court and Federal Magistrates Court between March 2009 and February 11 this year are now uncertain.
Ms Roxon said the government was working to fix the issue as soon as possible, but the opposition seized on the blunder as an "astonishing act of incompetence" that reinforced the view that the government could not get anything right.

Previously, heterosexual and same-sex de facto couples had their property matters dealt with by the state courts.
In 2009, the states referred their powers to the commonwealth, for the first time enabling de facto couples to have their property disputes dealt with by the Family Court as married couples do. However, no start date for the proclamation was arranged.
It is understood this oversight occurred within the Attorney-General's Department, when Robert McClelland was attorney-general. This meant the changes failed to begin.

The result is that since 2009 the Family Court has been making orders relating to de facto couples for which it had no jurisdiction.
Ms Roxon said she had directed her department to put its full attention to fixing the problem as quickly as possible. "This is a very unfortunate administrative error where a small mistake can have extensive consequences," she said.
The blunder was detected only earlier this month during Family Court proceedings in Melbourne. The case was adjourned until the issues with the legislation could be resolved.
A proclamation by Governor-General Quentin Bryce was rushed through on February 9 and the changes to the laws finally took effect on February 11.
This means that any orders made from February 11 cannot be challenged.
However, any orders made between March 1, 2009, and February 11 this year are potentially invalid because the Family Court did not have jurisdiction to make them.
The chairman of the family law division of the Law Council of Australia, Geoff Sinclair, said the Family Court and Federal Magistrates Court were trying to ascertain how many cases were involved, but he believed they were in the thousands.
"We are looking to see whether there can be retrospective legislation to deal with those cases . . . I think that is certainly doable," Mr Sinclair said. "We are urging the Attorney-General to take whatever steps are necessary, as soon as possible, to make sure legislation is enacted."
He said about 90 per cent of family orders were made by consent so he hoped they would not be challenged by the parties.
"It doesn't matter whether parties are in a de facto relationship or a marital relationship; when the relationship breaks down there'll often be a lot of emotion from both sides," he said.
"We certainly don't want a position where people have to go back and revisit issues that have occurred in the past, when hopefully people have put things behind them."
Opposition legal affairs spokesman George Brandis said: "This is an astonishing act of incompetence at the heart of government. It reinforces every impression the Australian people must already have that this government cannot get anything right."
However, it is understood a similar oversight occurred under the Howard government in 2006 when the Family Law Act was amended to give the Family Court jurisdiction to consider appeals from family law magistrates in Western Australia.
A proclamation was made to fix this oversight. Senator Brandis said the opposition would support legislation to fix the current problem.
Former Family Court chief justice Alastair Nicholson said the oversight was serious: "If those settlements are called into question, it's obviously very significant for the people involved.
"It seems the government has no real choice but to pass legislation retrospectively approving them."
NSW Attorney-General Greg Smith said it was disappointing the federal government had failed to deliver the reforms properly


Colin Barnett declares Gonski review a goner

Geoff Metcalf

Geoff Metcalf, principal of Roseworth Primary School in north Perth, yesterday, where nine in 10 children are from disadvantaged families.
 Picture: Colin Murty Source: The Australian

SCHOOL funding reform has become the latest flashpoint between the West Australian and commonwealth governments, with Premier Colin Barnett saying the Gonski recommendations would amount to a federal takeover of the running of public schools.
As the heads of state and territory education departments, including Western Australia, met in Sydney yesterday to discuss how the new funding model could be implemented, Mr Barnett questioned the capability of a government to run education when it could not decide on a prime minister.
While the Gonski review had some merit in its recommendations, Mr Barnett said about 70 per cent of West Australian students attended public schools, with the commonwealth playing a "minor peripheral" role, providing only 10 per cent of the funding. "This is the commonwealth trying to say: 'We want your money, we want to pool it, we now want to administer state government schools'. Sorry, ain't going to happen. This is a repeat of the attempt to take over the mining industry; it's a repeat of trying to take over our public hospitals and why, why would you trust education in the commonwealth's hands when they can't even decide who should be prime minister?"

School Education Minister Peter Garrett welcomed the fact that Mr Barnett saw merit in parts of the Gonski review, but said the Premier was wrong to claim it was an attempt to take over public schools. "It's not the federal government's job to run schools," Mr Garrett said. "The states and territories, Catholic and other systems do that very well.
"But as a national government, we have a role to play to ensure that our schools are world class, because our national wealth and economy's success depends on it."
Schools such as Roseworth Primary School in Perth's north, with about nine in 10 children from disadvantaged families and 25 per cent indigenous students, are the focus of the report from the independent review of school funding chaired by businessman David Gonski and released on Monday.
Under the proposal, Roseworth would receive a base amount per student, the same for all students in all schools, that would be supplemented by loadings for disadvantage, such as indigenous students, those with a disability and those with a low socio-economic status.

Roseworth principal Geoff Metcalf said he could always use more money to help his students, and liked the report's emphasis on schools finding solutions at a local level.
The report estimated an extra $5 billion a year in 2009 dollars was required to educate all students to a high standard.
In an effort to boost attendance rates particularly among its indigenous students, the school has a full-time attendance officer, breakfast clubs, a child health nurse, a dental service and a permanent presence by the Smith Family offering scholarships to pay for education costs.
It has started a zero-to-three program, to meet families and build relationships in the community before children start school, and fostering those relationships would be the target of any extra money Mr Metcalf received.
"Kids can be really struggling to get to school because of things that are not to do with the school . . . housing, health, family interrelationships," he said.
"For this school to make a difference with those families, you actually have to widen the circle of influence you've got. You can't just put children in a classroom and say, 'We're going to fix this by teaching you how to read'. There's a whole lot of other social things that are going on in the background that don't allow the kids to get to school."

West Australian Education Minister Liz Constable said the state government would discuss funding reform, but at this stage could see no benefit for the state in following the reforms outlined in the Gonski report.
"Schools are a state responsibility," she said. "We already spend more than any other state on education, our teachers are the highest paid in the nation and we're a long way down the path of school autonomy. We don't need the federal government telling us how to do it."
Dr Constable said the government was also concerned by other elements of the report, particularly adding another layer of bureaucracy in education with recommendations for an independent authority to set the school resourcing standard, and a national school planning body.
The Victorian government shares some of Western Australia's concerns about ceding control of funding levels to an external body, and the potential for the wealthier states to end up cross-subsidising school systems in other states or territories.
Premier Ted Baillieu said last night the federal government had "a lot more work to do" before it would convince Victoria to help fund the plan.
"It is a big plan, but it's a plan to which the commonwealth have made no commitment, for which there's no funding identified and for which there's been no consultation," he said during a trade mission to New Delhi. "It would appear the commonwealth is just suggesting the states should pay for whatever's afoot."
Even though the Victorian school funding model is similar to that proposed in the Gonski report, with baseline funding supplemented by loadings for need, Victorian Education Minister Martin Dixon said greater detail about the money involved was required. "We don't want to sacrifice the quality in Victoria to national consistency, that's the bottom line," he said. "We are totally engaged in this . . . but we are not prepared for money received from the federal government to cross-subsidise other states."
NSW Education Minister Adrian Piccoli gave broad support to the direction outlined but was disappointed at the lack of commitment by the federal government.
Julia Gillard reiterated that the report provided insight, while refusing to endorse the recommendations, as she visited a Catholic school in Sydney's west.
The Prime Minister refused to commit to providing extra funding for schools, which the report estimates at $5bn in 2009 figures. She said it was not productive to speculate about figures before the details were worked out.
Additional reporting: Amanda Hodge

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