Sunday, December 18, 2011
Whilst we wish Cr. Shanahan all the best at this time we must ask the question should his prolonged absence and state of health impact on the operations of the City Council and should he not in the interest of the Council and representative democracy resign?
The City of Melbourne Council has less than 10 months left to serve before going to the polls in November 2012.
This is a decision that Cr. Shanahan should consider now rather then later. If he is unable to fulfill his term of office then he should step aside and allow his position to be filled by someone else.
Should Shanahan resign his position would most likely be filled by Connie Pagliantani (Number two on Cr Shanahan's ticket). No doubts there are some in the Council Administration that do not want to see Ms Pagliantani elected to office.
Mean while the City Council continued to hold meetings behind closed doors contrary to the Local Government Act, It appear that the Council has formalised these illegal "Council Forum" gatherings, the public is denied access or oversight. Minutes are not tabled and decisions of the forum are made under officer delegation. The elected Council p[lays such a low role in the affairs of the Council the Council Web site has them as an aside below the administration. Not one word by the elected representatives, who have forgotten the meaning of open transparent governance. I guess if Cr Shanahan does not step aside tit will not matter anyway. no one will notice his absence.
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
The 44th US President Barack Obama has arrived in Australia. Welcomed by the Australia's Governor General Quentin Bryce and Prime minister, Julia Gillard.
How much Obama has changed the perception of the US Presidency. His "not in your face" attitude and intellect has gone a long way to restoring respect and building friendship between Australia and the United States.
In the past I would have been willing to join the protesters but as I grow older I am able to distinguish between the individual and the office. I am still critical of US policy overall but less so since Obama has come to office. I sincerely wish him a pleasant stay in Australia and hope that he is able to pay many visits over his next term of office. He most certainly deserves to be re-elected.
Saturday, October 29, 2011
I attended the Australian Institute of Architects -2011 Victorian Architecture Award Winners Exhibition at Federation Square, (A testament to poor planning and design in itself).
The exhibit display was pathetic, a few cheap posters stuck amidst an open book stall. Very disappointing, the organisers of the exhibition should hang their heads in shame.
The award exhibition had a nothing to desire and if anything reflected poorly on the state of affairs in Melbourne's Architectural and design community.
Melbourne is a City of Architectural disasters (most designed by Denton Corker and Marshall) there is a host of other designers that have also contribute to Melbourne's malaise and lack of built environment creativity. That is not to say that there are no Architects of merit. To the contrary Nonda Kostelidous is brilliant and I also like the work of Ellenburg and Fraser who were featured in the 2011 designer awards but the exhibition did not serve them well, so show therir work in favourable light.
Melbourne needs a dedicated modern art and design museum that is attached to a large hard edge open space. We have a museum to the moving pictures why not design and architecture. If we do manage to get around to constructing an architecture design museum I hope the AIA is kept well aware from it. the Architects themselves should have a say in how they want to display their award winning designs. They should be the ones that tell the story behind the project. The award exhibition should be much more informative, creative and inspiring.
Wednesday, October 05, 2011
Extract from Hansard dated August 23, 2011
The CHAIR — Are you appearing in a private capacity or representing an organisation? If so, which organisation?
Mr van der CRAATS — I am a member of the Proportional Representation Society of Australia and of the Australian Labor Party, but the evidence that I give is of personal opinion.
The CHAIR — I ask you to begin your verbal submission, and we will take it from there.
Mr van der CRAATS — Thank you for the opportunity to speak to this Parliament. I do so with some reluctance, mainly because the last time I gave evidence to this committee I was subjected to what I consider to be harassment, intimidation and vilification by the chief electoral commissioner. It is a matter that I raised before with this committee, or the previous committee, and it failed to respond or to properly act. It is my belief that the actions taken by the chief electoral commissioner constitute contempt of Parliament, and I would like that this committee give further consideration to the complaints that I forwarded to the committee on previous occasions with the view of having the matter properly dealt with by an appropriate authority. I will raise this later in my submission, particularly with respect to item 4 and in relation to the role of the Ombudsman and the electoral commission as it is the Ombudsman that I believe is the appropriate body to review such complaints. However, this committee has a responsibility to ensure the integrity of the parliamentary process, that the committee process is intact and that witnesses are not subjected to some form of harassment or intimidation as a result of evidence given that may be detrimental to or critical of the conduct of the election’s process.
Saturday, October 01, 2011
Jason Dowling, the Age
October 1, 2011
MELBOURNE City Council has become more secretive under lord mayor Robert Doyle, according to a group representing businesses in the city, and this week's council meeting was open to the public for just 12 minutes.
Don Parsons, secretary of the Melbourne Business Council, said increasing numbers of agenda items for council meetings were being classified ''confidential'', which required the public to leave the meeting.
Tuesday night's council meeting was public for 12 minutes with 80 per cent of agenda items deemed confidential. At the coming Tuesday council committee meeting, 75 per cent of items have been classified confidential.''It is something we have been observing for months now, that committee and full council just have more and more confidential [agenda items],'' Mr Parsons said.
''Is it they can't stand scrutiny?''
Cr Doyle rejected the suggestion the council was less transparent than past councils.
He said under former mayor John So, the council often produced two reports, one for the public and a confidential one for the council only.
Cr Doyle said the current system was more transparent because most confidential council agenda items were later released publicly. He said state laws for local councils affected the number of confidential items.
''We are no different from any council in this respect,'' he said. ''We are not secretive.''
Victoria's Local Government Act says a council ''may'' deem items confidential and lists eight areas that may be considered for confidentiality - it doesn't compel councils to make the items confidential.
The chairman of Melbourne City Council's planning committee Ken Ong said greater effort would be made in the future to reduce the number of confidential items.
Councillor Jackie Watts said she would be working to have fewer items classified confidential and encouraging greater transparency at Melbourne City Council.
Yarra City Council mayor Alison Clarke said it was very unusual for their council to have more than 25 per cent of items judged confidential.
''Our September meeting ran from 7pm to 11.45pm, and only about the last 15 minutes was confidential,'' she said.
Local Government Minister Jeanette Powell said ''councils should properly explain why a matter will be dealt with in a closed meeting''.
Saturday, September 24, 2011
Melbourne City Council is making too many decisions without the glare of public scrutiny, according to a former lord mayor.
The agenda for next Tuesday's council meeting lists seven items for discussion as ''confidential'' with only one item disclosed to the public.
Former lord mayor Kevin Chamberlin said the council, in charge of an annual budget worth hundreds of millions of dollars, was operating too much in secrecy.
''When you look at a council meeting agenda you get the distinct impression the real business is done behind closed doors,'' Mr Chamberlin said.
The closed shop at Tuesday's council meeting comes after The Age reported in May the lord mayor was conducting ''councillor-only meetings'' that did not require minutes to be taken or councillors to declare a conflict of interest because no council staff were present.
Cr Carl Jetter, who said he represented business interests in the council, said it was a long-standing convention for the past three to four terms to have more internal discussions on operations.
''It's not for the public or ratepayers to know,'' Cr Jetter said.
But lord mayor Robert Doyle said the council was more transparent than State Parliament - despite debates in Parliament being open to the public.
''Tuesday's meeting agenda with so many confidential items is unusual,'' Cr Doyle said.
''All nine councillors, regardless of how long they have been a councillor, are free to bring up discussions to question the confidential nature of matters.''
City of Melbourne chief executive Dr Kathy Alexander said in a prepared statement: ''The City of Melbourne understands the importance of being open and transparent with its ratepayers, however there are some specific matters as outlined in the Local Government Act that cannot be discussed in open council.''
Thursday, September 22, 2011
One issue that the government needs to clamp down on is the third rate "Hostel Educational schools" that proliferate the city. The facilities and quality of eduction at these institutions are of real concern and tarnish the reputation of our main educational sector.
In some cases over 200 students are crammed in space that was designed to accommodate no more then 50. Kitchen facilities are placed in a common room with computer terminals with the administration desk tucked in the corner.
On my recent visit to one such institute there was a noticeable lack of air-conditioning not to mention concerns in relation to fire and emergency exits.
One has to wonder what exactly is the City Council doing to monitor compliance with building occupation standards?
We do not allow cheap over crowded hostel accommodation, so why is it that we allow cheap and over crowded educational schools to exist.
Many students complain about the quality of the courses on offer.
The conditions at some of these schools is so appalling it is having an impact on the quality of education provided. No teacher worth their salt would teach under such conditions. There appears to be a noticeable absence of Union engagement in this sector.
These overcrowd, poorly facilitated, schools promote themselves as being low cost budget education, with fees ranging from $200 to $295 per week. Most of the students studying at these schools are not achieving there full potential.
These third rate schools are more about visas then education.
By comparison the schools that are attached to established tertiary educational institutes provide a better leaning environment and significantly better value for the student dollar.
RMIT and the Australian Catholic University and the Hawthorn institute being rated as the top three best buys in inner city education. Out side the city we have Deakin, Monash and Victoria University.
If the government is serious about developing a sustainable International education sector it has to regulate and address the issue of budget schools in terms of the facilies provided. Students should have the right to change providers if the school they have subscribed to does not meet their expectations. There is a need for a International Education Ombudsman and a central student information centre who can help students address and issues of complaints against providers.
Your comments and experiences on Melbourne ELICOS education sector are welcomed.
Wednesday, September 14, 2011
The Victorian Parliament Scrutiny of Acts and Regulations Committee has published its report on the Review of the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006.
In its report the Committee has made a number of recommendations in relation to the operation of the Human Rights charter. What was of considerable note was the Committee's failure to address issues of concern in relation to the Ombudsman's oversight
The Ombudsman plays a significant role in the oversight of government administration. the office of the Ombudsman is the appropriate body to oversee the administration of state authorities.
The Committee in its recommendations made two references to the Ombudsman
Complaints to the Ombudsman
If the Charter is retained, then SARC recommends that public authorities who are subject to the Ombudsman’s jurisdiction be encouraged to inform people who bring internal complaints that the Ombudsman may be able to investigate any unresolved complaints, including complaints concerning Charter rights.
Jurisdiction of the Ombudsman
If s. 13(1A) of the Ombudsman Act 1973 is retained, then SARC recommends that it be amended so as to specify the range of bodies that can be subject to an enquiry or investigation with respect to human rights.
The Committee also noted:
Complaints to the Ombudsman.
The Consultation Committee considered that the Ombudsman already had the power to handle human rights complaints, but recommended clarifying that it could consider Charter rights.
What the Committee failed to address was the provision of the Victorian Ombudsman Act that prevents the Ombudsman from reviewing the Victorian Electoral Commission (VEC). s 13(3)(ca)
The Victorian Electoral Commission is not subjected to the Ombudsman Act, it is exempt, and as such the Ombudsman has no oversight over the VEC's administrative misuse and abuse. The only avenue of review is the Courts, VCAT and the Parliament itself.
The Ombudsman has jurisdiction over a range of government authorities including the Victoria Police and Local Government in respect to administrative issues, why not the VEC?
Complaints against the VEC go unaddressed, The Parliament is reluctant to consider in detail any complaints against the VEC for fear of being seen to be partisan in its deliberations. It is incapable of considering any complaints of an administrative matter let alone misuse and abuse under the Human Rights Charter or abuses under the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act.
The Victorian Parliament Scrutiny of Acts and Regulations Committee failed to address this issue of concern and failed to recommend removing the VEC's exemption under the Victorian Ombudsman Act.
Whilst the Committee has recognised the role the Ombudsman plays in protection of Human Rights and government oversight it failed to address this essential issue of concern.
Last year a petition was tabled in the parliament calling for the Ombudsman act to be amended to resume the VEC exclusion from review by the Ombudsman.
Recommendation 6 and 33 of the Committee's report does not apply to the VEC as the Ombudsman cannot review any actions of the Victorian Electoral Commission.
The Victorian Electoral Commission remains unaccountable and beyond review.
Questions are being asked with today's Internet technology why the 3 day enviro-fest could not be held on line with less pollution and cost to Melbourne taxpayers.
Tuesday, September 06, 2011
A motion will be brought before Melbourne City Council tonight on whether to ask the State Government to consider abolishing the direct election of the mayor and deputy.
Council sources say if the change were put to the State Government and enacted, it could weaken Lord Mayor Robert Doyle's chance at another term in office.
Critics of council's current voting system claim that candidates with a high public profile and financial support are more likely to win direct elections, and not necessarily the best candidate.
The direct election of the lord mayor by ratepayers has been in place since John So won office in 2001.
There has been no review of the system since then.
That legislation was requested by council.
The motion before the Future Melbourne committee, meeting tonight, calls for public consultation over whether people would be required to vote in person, bringing local government elections in line with state and federal practices.
A second motion also brought by Councillor Jacqui Watts calls for the State Government to consider matters including:
ABOLITION of the direct election of the lord mayor and/or deputy lord mayor.
INCREASING requirements of election funding and disclosure provisions.
ABOLITION of deeming provisions and amendment to the company nominee provisions.
Both motions will be voted on tonight.
Minister for Local Government Jeanette Powell said the electoral representation reviews gave the local community the chance to influence their council's electoral structure.
"Local government is the level of government closest to the people and this Bill increases the opportunity for the community to have more input," she said
UPDATE: The City Council has voted against the proposal to hold a public inquiry and review of the City of Melbourne's electoral system. Whislt The Lord Mayor wants to prevent the public from reviewing his position this should not prevent the State Government from proceeding and providing opportunity for public review.
Friday, September 02, 2011
The number was previously registered with a group called TecSavy based in the USA (Although we have reason to believe it is in fact based in India or some other overseas country) They offer too good to refuse computer support services for a subscription of $100. If you subscribe they install software on your computer so their technicians can assist in any configuration issues. They also have your credit card number and other personal data that you provide when you subscribe.
TecSavy's US telephone number is +1.425.998.0460, When we called this number we received a recorded message by the US authorities warning subscribers not to provide any personal details or credit card information as the company my be associated with identity theft.
All emails sent to this company are also bounced.
We have reported this matter to the authorities and telecommunications provider.
If you are contacted by a company by this name or using (03) 9016 4321 as their Australian contact try and get hold of any contact information you can and report it to the police.
UPDATE: We did a DNS Internet provider search on TechSavy and the web of deceit became even clearer. They uses the services of a group called privacyprotect.org to mask the ownership of the web site. The addresses they used was listed as a Post Box in Queensland with a message that they do not receive any mail at that address (Why would you have a PO box and not receive any mail?) The telephone contact was in Denmark and the fax line in India. we called then Denmark number and we got a recorded message from a woman with an Indian Accent. It turns out that at every step there was false and misleading ICAN records. This is something that ICAN must look into as we soon discovered that http://Privacyprotect.org is used by a hots of doggy web sites to mark the owner of the web. We suspect in fact that TecSavy and privacyprotect are one and the same company. They certainly use the same server.
Update 2: Mirosoft published warning to users of fake engineers scam
Microsoft is warning its customers of a new scam that employs "criminals posing as computer security engineers and calling people at home to tell them they are at risk of a computer security threat."
The tech giant said that victims of the scam lose on average $875 after "the scammers tell their victims they are providing free security checks and add authenticity by claiming to represent legitimate companies and using telephone directories to refer to their victims by name.
Funds are stolen by the scammers using "a range of deception techniques designed to steal money," Microsoft said in a statement detailing the scam.
Tuesday, August 30, 2011
There are numerous antidotal evidence about students who pass the IELTS or TOEFL tests and can not put a sentence together yet native English speakers who have studied in University constantly fall short a point of two from the required target.
We recently reviewed the TOEFL Test, which in Australia cost US$200 (Plus a $5.00 international conversion fee). The TOEFL Tests is very US centric with reports that the assessors, who are based in the USA, mark down students who have an accent they are not familiar with. As if to speak English you need to have proper tone that is a US or proper British accent, of course when it comes to the Australian Accent the American assessors hear that as a monotone accent. Points lost straight up.
The other aspect of comcern about the TOEFL test is that it is a very computer and time based assessment. Your really scored on your ability to access and understand the idiosyncrasies of the test itself not English.
The speaking test is very artificial. In a general conversation you are speaking to a live audience, with that comes feedback that you receive from the audience itself. It could be in the form of a perons reaction or facial expressions. With the TOEFL test it is like talking into a answering machine and recording a short statement or two about a topic that is once again very American in its content.
Similar concerns have been expressed about TOEFL assessors marking down Australian English as an error. Such as the use of colour as opposed to color or Neigour as opposed to neighbour. In discussion with a number of test takers there was an emphasis on learning the method of the test as opposed to the quality of English comprehension.
The assessors also know if you have purchased any TOEFL exam preparation test kits, which, if you have, will give you a potential heads up in the TOEFL scoring system.
The examiners collect a lot of statistical information before test, information that could compromise the integrity of the test results itself.
If you find yourself in the inevitable position of falling just below your target mark, and they know what that is, you have to pay an additional US$60.00 (Plus the $5.00 international transfer fee) per module. The published results are noted for their inconsistencies and lack of detail. Unlike the online sample test where you can get a report on exactly what you passed and where you fail, this information is not provided by for the actual TOEFL test. Which all makes the exam assessment that much more subjective.
English testing systems such as TOEFL and IELTS are big business, with government regulators using them as a means of approving or rejecting applications for further study or employment.
So which test is best? In our view both are just as flawed as each other.
They certainly do not provide a consistent test assessment and the management of both systems appear to be designed more around failing students in order to extract the greatest income and profit. TOEFL in Australia is cheaper then IELTS ($205 compared to $339) But TOEFL is way to time based and computer centric. Your writing skills assessment is a test of your typing skills. Mine, I know are bad, mainly because of poor eyesight to hand co-ordination.
What Australia needs to do is develop its own English language testing system. One that is designed for Australia and uses Australian context and Australian examples.
Why are we paying royalties to overseas companies when we could be keeping the profits in Australia?
The government has a long way to go in address this situation. Much more independent monitoring and review need to also made to ensure that the integrity of the testing regimes is maintains and not tainted.
Thursday, August 04, 2011
One student I know purchased a concession ticket not knowing that student concession did not apply to foreigners. No one explained the system and their level of English was low. They were here after all to learn English and to experience Australian life.
The student was stopped by the metro stasi and detained for questioning. Something that is very frightening for a foreign student who has little command of English and comes from a country where enfrocement authorities can be brutal and generally try to extract bribes.
Our Metro statsi ignored their human rights and in breach of government policy failed to obtain the services of a translator before questioning the student. Instead of giving the student a warning and information about our transport system in their own language they issued an infringement notice and a demand for payment of $160 fine. Welcome to Melbourne.
Saturday, July 30, 2011
A decade ago when the Australian dollar was low in value businesses were quick to pass on the costs of petrol and overseas manufactured goods to the public. Petrol broke though the one dollar a liter barrier and the costs of goods increased in compassion to the the Australian Dollar. Overseas travel became that much more expensive as the Australian dollar had to work twice as hard.
Today the opposite is the case. The Australian Dollar is twice as much in value yet the prices of goods and services has not gone down. Petrol remains high.
The extent of profit taking and opportunism is shown clearly in the English Language testing system. The cost of sitting an IELTS test in Australia is twice that of charged in the United States, UK and Ireland. The profits being paid to the the overseas licencing coping Seek Learning have doubled in value at Australia's expense. Instead of going up $20 from $310 to $330 the costs of sitting the IELTS test should have gone down.
It is this pocketing of the win fall and the failure to pass on some of the benefits of having a high dollar that has contributed to the decline in retail in Australia. With an in crease in the value of the dollar the cost of buying on line overseas sourced goods and shipping them to Australia has become much much more competitive and consumers are voting with their keyboards boycotting Australian retail outlets.
Add to that the cost of rent in shopping centers or the cost of parking within the City of Melbourne and extended hours parking restrictions apply and the landlords and City Council are also contributing to the economic inflationary pressure impacting retail in Melbourne. Instead of passing on the benefits oif a high dollar small retail outlets have the opportunity to use the win fall profits to off set other high costs associated with running a business in the city. Sure the City Council has discouraged shopping in the CBD. The CBD is no longer the place to shop. Services can be sourced on line and the consumer has to some extent greater choices. But this only applies where there is real competition but in prices and services offered.
organisations like Seek learning's IELTS have a legislative monopoly. Even though the Department of Immigration and Citizenship have began to recognise other accredited service providers the Skills assessment authorities such as the CPA and others continue to only acept IETLS as the only means of assessing English language requirements. If level of English is the aim of the skills assessment then why are they only prepared to accept IELTS as the only means of assessment. If alternative language assessments are available and accredited then why are not not being recognise.
Bill Shorten like that of many in Australia know all too well the price ripp offs we see day to day.
It is only by exposing the profit takers and subjecting them to real competition that the benefits of a high dollar will be passed on to residents.
Thursday, July 21, 2011
The City of Melbourne has concluded the count back of the 2008 Municipal Election ballot to determine who will fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of Councillor Peter Clarke.
The successful candidate was Jackie Watts (Peter Clarke’s number 2 on his ticket).
Over 6,000 votes that should have been counted were excluded from the count.
Raising further concern about the system of Proportional representation used in Victoria’ municipal elections.
Whilst the result of the count back are not brought into question the method used in the count back is very much questioned..
Under the system adopted there are seven councillors elected to the Council with a quota of just under 1/8 of the total vote. The total vote divided by (the number of vacant positions plus one) minus one. Of which Peter Clarke represents one eighth.
Peter Clarke was not elected on the primary vote and relied on the distribution of preferences from other candidates. Clarke's surplus votes were also distributed on assisting the election of other councillors who were elected later in the count.
Peter Clarke had a primary vote of 5511 votes at full value (1.000)
He received an additional 3205 votes at full value and 18 fractional value votes following the distribution of preferences from excluded candidates and other candidates surpluses. Total value 8734
The quota for election was 7415. Clarke’s surplus of 1319 which was distributed to other candidates, remaining in the count, according to the voters nominated order of preference.
Under the VEC rules the recount only took into consideration the votes that formed Clarke's original quota, they failed to take into consideration other unused residual votes that remained on the table, effectively a full quota of votes was ignored in the recount. Votes which could have determined the outcome of the recount and the candidate who filled the casual vacancy.
By only considering Clarke's original set of ballot papers that were used to elect him the system has double counted some votes and excluded other votes which legitimately should have been counted.
The formula that should have been used should have proportioned Clarkes original set of ballot papers so that they together equal quota (Quota divided candidates total value of votes) times the value of the each vote.
This value should have then been added to any remaining residual value that had not been used at the conclusion of the original count brining the count to its final conclusion. In a full preferential ballot this should equal two quotas minus one. (Taking into consideration and exhausted votes that failed to express a valid preference for any continuing candidate.
All unelected Candidates should have been reactivated and include in the recount and value of the votes outstanding redistributed according to the voters nominated preference until a candidate has reach the original quota value.
This is not the process that the VEC or the legislation applied. They only considered the ballot papers that made up Clarkes original quota votes that when combined with the other residual votes could have produced a different result. But excluding the residual votes from the count these voters have been denied equal representation.
By Way of a theoretical analogy
The ALP number 3 Senate Candidate Jacinta Collins may have been elected on the back of preferences from the DLP who preferenced Jacinta Collins then preferenced Family First or some other candidate ahead of the ALP’s other candidates. The DLP vote when they were excluded from the Count continued on to elect Collins in the original election.
If Collins position subsequently became vacant and count back was used to fill the casual vacancy, under the VEC rules the ALP’s number 4 candidate would be elected but not on merit or on in accordance with the voters chosen candidate. The DLP vote would have been transferred to the Family First Candidate not the ALP and this vote could have resulted in Family First reaching quota before the ALP number 4 candidate. In a fair accurate system Family first’s Steve Fielding should be elected on the count back.
The City of Melbourne count back has highlighted some serious flawed in the system of proportional representation that has been adopted.
Flaws that were introduced by poor legislation drafting and designed to facilitate an outdated manual counting process. With the use of computer based technology it is possible and highly desirable that the system is reviewed and the rules amended to reflect more accurately the voters choice. Our system of Proportional representation and the count back rules, as they currently exist, is not really proportional but semi proportional at best.
If we cannot fix the system so that it accurately reflects the voters choice then we might as well do away with preferential voting which costs hundreds of thousands of dollars to count and adopt a similar cheaper party list system as is used in Europe.
If we are going to retain the preferential voting and the associated expense of counting it then it should be accurate.
Tuesday, July 12, 2011
In recent correspondence to the CPA we received a reply that indicated that whilst the CPA is considering accepting TOEFL as an alternative skills assessment they are only prepared to do so where IELTS testing is not available. This would appear to be discrimination and anti competitive giving IELTS an unfair advantage in the market place .
On what basis the CPA can argue that TOEFL is acceptable under some circumstances and not all is difficult to understand to support. Maybe the CPA has a sponsorship arrangement with IELTS and Seek Australia who owns IETLS in Australia, maybe there is some unknown or undisclosed reason why they seek to lock TOEFL out of the market?
The Federal Government has rightly acted to ensure that there is competition in the English Language Testing market. Both IELTS and TOELF are recognised by the Federal Government as acceptable tests for English competence in immigration why not skill assessment?
If it’s good enough for one its good enough for all.
Clearly, in the absence of the CPA's ability to self regulate, the Government will have to act to ensure that all registered skills assessing authorities recognise and accept of all accredited English testing systems.
There could even be a case for class action in the various Appeals Tribunals or even the High Court to try and force the CPA into accepting TOEFL accreditation.
Anyone concerned about this should contact us to discuss further action.
Currently, the IELTS test is considered as one of the standard English tests recognised in Australia. CPA Australia together with the other two assessing authorities made the decision to require the IELTS Test Report from applicants to prove their English proficiency. However, we may in future consider other English tests, e.g. TOEFL for applicants who reside in areas the IELTS test is not available.
Tracey Huynh | Qualifications Advisor | Qualifications Assessment Unit
Member Advisory & Information Services | CPA Australia
Tuesday, July 05, 2011
The Australian IELTS fee charged to foreign students and alike in Australia is set to increase by 5% to $330.00 come August 2011. the same test costs $180 in the UK, USA, Ireland and Ukraine.
There is no justification for the rip-off with substantial profits being paid to off shore entities and Seek Learning who in partnership with Australian Universities own the IELTS testing regime in Australia.
The high costs is used to buy support and extra income for Australian Universities. Students visiting Australia deserve a better deal. They have to pay high rents, get no concession in travel or any benefits other than an Australian education and the limited possibility of securing Australian residency after they graduate.
Those students who need English testing should look into TOEFL which is now accepted as an alternative English language test assessment. But do not expect parity, TOEFL costs $200 but is still $40 more expensive to do in Australia and other counties.
Tuesday, June 28, 2011
The TOEFL test costs Australia $200 per test and is some $117 dollars cheaper the the IELTS, which currently ripps off Australia by charging $317. (The cost of the same IELTS test in other nations such as the US, UK or Thailand is much cheaper costing around $180).
TOEFL is not better in the comparison stakes.
Whilst overall cheaper then IELTS, TOEFL charges Australia 25% more than does in other countries. For example in the UK, Ireland, Thailand and the US the TOEFL test is around $160-$165.
Why is the cost of both tests so much more expensive in Australia than in other Countries?
The Answer is because there is no real competition and Australia has not questioned the costs charged overall. It costs more to leave Australia then it does to pay the overpriced and inflated test fees.
Why is it important you may ask?
Well Australia, Melbourne in particular, has become dependent to the Overseas student market.
The Sydney Morning Herald reported, back in February 2011, that "Student visa applications from outside Australia fell 32 per cent in the last six months of last year compared with those of the same period in 2009, which in turn had fallen 22 per cent compared with the same period in 2008. The drop is frightening for universities because they have become dependent on fee income from foreign students to subsidise domestic students as the real value of government funding has declined." We have been milking the student migration system for a decade ripping off students. Its not small bikies either. With hundreds of thousands of people sitting English languate testing in Australia each year it is big business a 100 million a dollars a year industry. It not just the test ot is the support, pre-testing and training that adds to the profit margin. It is surprising the media have not picked up on the excessive dispartity charges, but then they also have a stake in the pie though sponsorships, endorsements and advertsing as do politicans, political parties and the like., Foreign students do not have a vote but they do vote with their feet and their wallets.
The English threshold level has been set much higher, making it that much harder for migrant applications to succeed.
With the slowdown in Immigration and the tightening up of the skill assessment, English testing has become a means of discriminating against foreign students wishing to migrate to Australia.
Students are very much aware of the price comparisons between Australia and overseas. They are foriegn students after all. The fact that it is more expensive to sit the same test in Australia then else where sends the wrong message about Australia. It leaves a sour taste and ever lasting impression on the foriegn student experiance of living in Australia a message that is being projected beyond our shores.