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Australian Values? What Can I Say?

It’s always problematic writing about education because nearly everyone has an opinion. Now, I’m not the sort of person who thinks that non-teachers have no right to any input. However, I tend to find that those not working in schools frequently fit into two categories with their opinions on the subject:

  1. Everything was just fine when I went to school a number of years ago and – even though I don’t remember much of what I learnt – it was all good and any changes that have happened since are just some silly fad which is destroying our future.
  2. Education was shocking when I went through and I was thoroughly bored and nothing was of any use and there have been no attempts to improve the system since I left, so I can give you an authorative opinion that it’s still shocking even after I’m told that schools no longer do that/are now doing what I suggested.

That’s fine. It’s always interesting to hear the opinions of others. Some things are worth taking on board. However, there is one group of people I’d exclude and ban from expressing any opinion about education and that’s politicians. You see the terrible danger with politicians is that have the power to try and mandate their latest thought bubble.

That’s not really accurate. It’s usually not so much a “thought” bubble, as a “this will sound good going to the election” bubble.

So, in Victoria, Matthew “The Family” Guy has announced that Victorian schools will be instructed to teach “Australian values” under a Liberal Government, as well as getting rid of all this trendy nonsense of teaching about sustainability, Asia and aboriginal history. Of course, Safe Schools goes because an Australian environment needs to be dangerous and there’s also going to be a greater concentration on “literacy, numeracy and writing.” Writing, of course, being a totally separate thing from literacy.

Now, there’s a lot to unpack in Matthew Guy’s statement because it was several sentences long. But it’s the idea of “Australian values” that most intrigues me. Coupled with the removal of sustainability from the curriculum, it sounds like we’ll be spending a lot of time teaching kids how to chop down trees, spellling the name of the tree correctly, counting the leaves and then writiing about how good it is to have totally cleared the land and made it easier for fracking to occur.

I just find it difficult because it wasn’t so long ago that federal politicians were telling us that schools had no business teaching values and that we should leave that up to the parents. But now we should be teaching Australian values.

Strangely, Guy seemed to think that Australian values were the “inherent dignity of the individual, religious tolerance, the principles of the Western enlightenment — such as freedom of speech, equality before the law and government by consent”. I presume by ‘government by consent’ he means that one is allowed to govern after Rupert gives his consent, but if anyone has a better theory, I’m happy to hear it.

However, I remember a speech a few years ago, where John Howard said that “self reliance, a fair go, pulling together, and having a go” were the enduring Australian values. Of course, these are uniquely Australian values and any boat people who are self-reliant enough to have a go and pull together to make it anywhere near the coast don’t deserve a fair go – just a go straight to detention, because we don’t want foreigners trying to steal our these values because they belong to us… Of course, many will point out that this detention policy was necessary to prevent people coming here and it must also be remembered that this was in the days when blaming the Howard government for the drownings when the SIEV-X sank, was cheap politics. It was only after there were drownings under Labor that it became the government’s fault.

Then, not long after Mr Howard’s speech, schools were issued with a poster showing Simpson and his donkey, which set out nine values for Australian schooling: care and compassion; doing your best; fair go; freedom; honesty and trustworthiness; integrity; respect; responsibility; and understanding, tolerance and inclusion.

Of course, there was bit of controversy because Simpson was an illegal immigrant who spent a lot of time with a donkey, but I don’t remember Cory Bernardi worrying about the poster encouraging people to marry animals. However, behind the scenes he must have been working away because I could find the poster with an internet search. I tried several different ways to search.

I presume it must have been because of the background of the man and his beast, and not because governments since have ignored every sngle one of the values on the poster.


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  1. Joseph Carli

    Whenever I hear someone talk about “Australian Values”, I feel like reaching for the BBQ. fork!

  2. Jack Russell

    Perhaps pollies should be signing a temporary employment contract that includes all the fabulous conditions they’ve devised for the working poor (in place of the swearing-in farce) that demands scrupulous 24/7 adherence to all 13 values on that poster, plus a No. 14: And see what happens to you if you don’t (that also includes all the fabulous conditions they’ve devised for the unemployed).

  3. Rossleigh

    Just posting this here because I’m not sure where else to share: “Once a culture of corruption has taken hold, it tends to spread to every level of society. Anybody who works for the government comes to expect a bribe for every service he or she provides—a kind of “personal fee” on top of the worker’s regular salary. To justify the fee, ensure its payment, and extort additional money, the worker becomes innovative about designing difficulties for citizens who need service. The payment demanded for simply verifying someone’s ID or accepting a filled-out form may be small, so to increase his or her income, the worker makes things more difficult for the citizen.” World of Three Zeroes is the book

  4. Frederick

    Simpson was of course a died-in-the-wool unionist. If he were alive today he would have been 100% contemptuous of everything that the LYING RODENT promoted, and have participated in the marches held in every Australian city against the war being promoted by the COALITION of the KILLING.
    Perhaps the GUY could also promise that all Victorians should get to eat LOBSTERS on a regular basis, or at the very least have the thrill of dining out with mafia mobsters.

  5. Diane Larsen

    Great read and good comments particularly like the barbeque fork

  6. GraemeF

    Simpson was a hard lefty who chose to be a stretcher bearer with the donkey because he didn’t think we had any right to invade Turkey on some mad war between European colonial powers. He refused to shoot Turks in their own country because they had done nothing to him.

    The British, French and Russians had got together with plans to expand their empires. Part of their new plans for a carve up of the world involved Russia getting parts of the Ottoman empire which is why Australians ended up dying at Gallipoli. Germany was going to lose a fair bit obviously so they had to make them look like the aggressors when all parties were all equally guilty of aggression and oppression. Thus setting the practice for Australia going to wars based on other country’s lies.

  7. Rossleigh

    Gee, GraemeF, I’m sure that’ll be part of the Australian values being proposed by Matthew Guy.

    You know, the sort of thing that John Howard liked so much: “We will decide the peoples we invade and circumstances under which the invasion takes place!”

  8. lawrencewinder

    Matty Thug, Guy…and Aussie Values./.. like dining with alleged Mafia … I too well remember the devastation Bovver Boy Kennett and his wrecking crew left Vic state education in with 8000 teachers sacked and 350 schools closed… these ruling rabble mongrels shouldn’t be trusted with anything!

  9. Frederick

    It is also interesting to note that during the Howard regime the Department of Veteran Affairs began a program of creating a comprehensive set of military his-story “educational” materials to promote the Anzac Legend which were sent to every school. This program probably still exists. How many millions of dollars have been spent (so far) on this propaganda exercise?
    Speaking of legends, most of the contents of such (or any legend) are either not true or factual, or highly “romanticized” embellishments of things/events/persons that did occur/exist.
    Surely the ONLY domain and responsibility of the Veteran Affairs Department is to look after the very obvious real needs of our wounded, crippled and traumatized veterans.
    At the time of Anzac Day last year I received in the mail a glossy A3 size brochure describing/promoting the Anzac Legend, courtesy of my local member Dan Tehan. I wonder if this brochure was sent to everyone in Australia. If so, isnt such an exercise a complete waste of the tax-payers money.
    It is almost as if we are being encouraged to have some kind of nostalgia for the good-old-days (of wartime) when everyone supposedly shared a common purpose in doing whatever-it-takes to defeat the enemy

    Such a his-story program does not even begin to acknowledge all of the many non-military aspects of Australia history which have shaped the Australian character and “values”. Such has been well argued by the “revisionist” historian Marilyn Lake. Needless to say her book was not at all acceptable to

  10. Rossleigh

    Mm. Frederick, I always find it interesting that the glory of our wars is so often pushed by men like Howard who never actually served in the military.

  11. Jack Russell

    Well, I think forceably shoving Simpson’s values down warmongering tory throats should be another Aussie value, and so did my disabled returned soldier grandpa.

  12. Winston

    Only 2 examples Ross? What about the group that didn’t do so well at school and went away and self educated themselves via kinesthetic/instinct,imagination, trial and error learning to become very proud of what they have achieved without any qualification, certificate on their walls.And have made change in the world.

  13. Rossleigh

    Actually, Winston, I think you’ll find that I said that they “frequently” fall into two groups. That neither overlooks the possibility that some what you’ve suggested nor precludes them from falling into category two. Cheers!

  14. Annie B

    Matthew Guy is so far behind the eight-ball, that he isn’t even in the area, let alone the building. … I see his comment as harking back to days long ago, when Australians were mainly white / caucasian, sprinkled with a few indigenous ‘black fellas’ and a few ‘from overseas’ … who went on to develop for themselves post WW1, some wonderful “Aussie-isms” … with a lot of honor to them ,,,,, but mainly for ‘whites’ to hang their hats on.

    To MG of the Victorian LNP …. Things have changed since then. … We are a multi-cultural society with many aspects of Greek, Italian, Indian, British, Asian, Middle Eastern, etc. ideals and ways of life. And so far we have intermingled and integrated well. We are of many colours.

    Typical of Howard to weigh in back in his day, using the example of a brave and honorable man and his donkey, as a key to introduce specifically Australian ‘values’…. all of which do not belong exclusively to the ‘white’ set here, but to every decent human being in this country – no matter his / her background or ethnicity. …

    There’s always been a distinct hint of xenophobia about the ‘Guy’ from the Opposition in Victoria.

  15. Jan

    I despise Anzac day.

  16. stephengb2014

    Simpson was an Englishman who thought he would get back to blighty by joining the Australian Army, there is no record of what he might have thought to do when he did make it back, because he never made it.

  17. Matters Not

    So the National Curriculum is to be history? Kevin Donnelly will be pleased.

    Or one more resurrection for Kevin? How many more before his divinity is declared or claimed?

  18. Adrianne Haddow

    It’s always so vomit inducing to be preached to about Australian values by a set of opportunistic politicians who don’t appear to have any values any kind.

    Why educate the plebs beyond reading, writing and arithmetic?
    Our ruling rabble don’t want to produce critical thinkers who can see through their self serving governance, or have memory retention beyond the last ‘profound’ announcements they made on talk back radio or in the Rupert rags.

    Let’s leave the thinking to the think tanks, they know what’s right for themselves and their profits. And their values are always flexible depending on where the scent of the next business opportunity is to be found.

  19. Zathras

    It all comes down to John Howard and his constant mention of our unique “mateship” because no other country in the world is aware of the abstract concepts of friendship, camaraderie or mutual trust.

    He also wanted to take us back to a more enlightened era of picket fences when men were men and women and blacks knew their place.

    He may be gone but there are many who have taken his place.

  20. A.W.L.

    Now Oi reckon that the teaching of reedin’, ‘ritin’ and ‘riffmedics should take absolute pre-eminence!

    And Orstrayan Vayewes! And how they may, or may not, actually have anything to do with “Western Values”. And how the reactionaries in and out of parliaments have always found ways of subverting the principles of the European Enlightenment, feeble as they are to begin with, and of reserving their application to members of the ruling classes first and foremost, with workers, women, Blacks, Asians, Aborigines and other assorted Natives, gays etc. coming a distant second, if at all.

  21. diannaart

    Dear Mr Guy,

    Could you consider including an additional value into your proposed “Australian Values” curriculum? I recommend resilience, which will be mandatory if our students are to navigate the 21st century.


    Regarding Safe Schools – bullying has never been a fad.

    Yours Truly

    Dianna A

  22. Aortic

    Not only Austrayan values but the principles of Western enlightenment, whatever they may be. Reminded me of Ghandi who when asked what he thought of Western civilisation said, ” I think it’s a good idea.”

  23. Matters Not

    Speaking of Australian values. What gives me the sh#ts is greedy people who go on strike without warning. Last week, I bought some fuel for a particular price. On Monday, the garage owner, without waring, refused to supply the same fuel unless I paid an extra 20 cents per litre.

    He took strike action (wouldn’t supply a service) unless I paid more money for the same service that cost 20 cents per litre less a few days before. There was no negotiation. No advance notice. No need to go before any tribunal. Just an arbitrary increase when I was in need. There ought to be a … law against wildcat strikes like this.

  24. diannaart

    Indeed, Aortic.

    “Western Enlightenment” happened only once a long time ago, so we really better have a good think about that. 😉

  25. stephentardrew

    Running a bit behind. So much to read and do. Great post Rossleigh.

  26. Rob

    Matthew guy, what a disgraceful individual, His victorian state liberals are now using the IPA and centre for independent studies policies as their own. So much for trickle down economics for the masses, Matthew guy and his sometime ABC 774 Melbourne mouthpiece, Shadow education minister tim smith, now openly embracing curriculum reform.

    The IPA wishlist, see also Federal liberal policy / legislation in waiting states very clearly, Number 12 Repeal the National Curriculum. Matthew guy lacks any sort of vision other than the right wing agenda to dumb down Australia.

    Should also be noted in the same wishlist, desire to abolish compulsory voting, as is the norm in the UK and the USA. Mr skyscraper, matthew guy, just another right wing monologue on whats increasingly WRONG with Australian politics. Lobster a’la mode anyone??

  27. Alan Luchetti

    When the Libs seek to govern for a wealthy minority at the expense of a poorer majority, apart from destroying economic understanding they have to campaign on non-economic notions in order to get enough of the majority to vote against their economic interests. They have worked out that the most likely members of the majority to be motivated to vote against their economic interests are jingoists, bigots, racists and religious fundamentalists.

    Hence, “Australian values”.

  28. jimhaz

    The LNP and US Republicans are Mammonists.

    “Mammon in the New Testament of the Bible is commonly thought to mean money, material wealth, or any entity that promises wealth, and is associated with the greedy pursuit of gain”

    Below just replace God with the employers of politicians, the people of Australia, and note the obvious disrespect pollies have for the masses. If Christian’s actually believed in Jesus’s values, there would be a cleansing of the political Temple.

    “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon”
    — Matthew 6:19–21, 24 (KJV)”

    In the news this morning it was mentioned that Turnbull is going to the US in March and that Turnbull is expected to praise Trump for his company tax reduction scam (as well as to talk about Nth Korea – which would be silly as Trump is completely unreliable).

  29. Chris

    “However, behind the scenes he must have been working away because I could [not] find the poster with an internet search. I tried several different ways to search.”

    It was published by ‘the Australian’ and given to schools by newsagents iirc. It was in both my children’s class rooms. Yes…disappointing that the teachers obviously lack critical thinking skills…promoting murdoch propaganda.

  30. Chris

    Here are some ANZAC posters that were printed by the Scholastic Corporation If you scroll down to the red pin-up board but they are in NZ.

  31. johno

    Where do these freaks (Matthew Guy) come from., maybe John Howard built a cloning factory.

  32. Graeme Henchel

    It has been confirmed, the Victorian liberal opposition, led by Matthew Guy, is so bereft of vision and competence that they aim to emulate the politics of division and distraction used by their federal colleagues and the likes of Donald Trump. First we have a hoary old “law and order” campaign complete with racist dogwhistling complimented with compliant tabloid sensationalism and federal intervention.
    The best that can be said is that at least their scare mongering is well orchestrated and organised, if not a bit too transparent.
    Now we have another classic conservative cliche, “back to basics” in education, but wait there’s more, also some vague intention to fill an alleged void in “values” education. Oh and there will be a “review” to be conducted by some handpicked, self identified, education “experts” who just happen to be regular conservative go to people whenever they need a sham justification for their nonsense. If it wasn’t so sad, so vacuous and so cynical it would be funny.

  33. Kyran

    “However, there is one group of people I’d exclude and ban from expressing any opinion about education and that’s politicians. You see the terrible danger with politicians is that have the power to try and mandate their latest thought bubble.”

    Once upon a time, a ‘leader’, Kennett, did some very silly things.

    “When the Kennett government closed 350 state schools in the early 1990s and later sold the land, it could not foresee the trend, now well documented, of families remaining in the inner city to raise their children rather than moving to the suburbs.”

    You may recall the rationale. We close the school and sell the land for ‘property development’ through the Urban Land Authority. The land was mainly used for residential development, which brought more families into the area. Oops, more kids and there is no school. It took a while to partially address the need to rebuild schools but the plan never really died. In June, 2014, the Napthine Government continued the process.

    “In last month’s budget papers, the government made clear part of its rationale in selling the schools, some of which were closed under the former Labor government, was to offer ‘‘opportunities for private investment to support education infrastructure’’ – that is, to allow former public school sites to be sold to Catholic, independent and other religious organisations because it will ‘‘improve choices for students and parents’’.
    ‘‘The state currently holds around 200 such sites. While some are located in areas of declining numbers of school-age children, others may offer potential for new schools,’’ the budget papers say.”

    That’s relevant to see the ‘LOTO’ (Leader of the Opposition) guy’s stupidity. There was a news item this week about Richmond High School being partially reopened, with the rest of the campus to be reopened over ensuing years. Even though it’s a brand new school, it is technically being reopened as the previous Richmond High School was shut down and sold off in 1992. Mr Kennett’s contribution to education was spectacular.
    ‘Loto’ guy’s minister described it as ‘pork barreling’. Seriously. If you trust anything out of ‘Loto’ guy’s mouth, you are taking one heck of a gamble.

    As an aside, with regard to your comment;
    “Once a culture of corruption has taken hold, it tends to spread to every level of society. Anybody who works for the government comes to expect a bribe for every service he or she provides—a kind of “personal fee” on top of the worker’s regular salary.”
    The amount of money floating around, over and under the table, back when those Kennett sales took place was eye watering. If ever there is an enquiry into that period and the early ULA, I have little doubt we will be entertained for ages.

    Andrews summed it up pretty well.

    “I think that when it comes to the education system in our state, there are some people who talk, there are other people who get on and build schools, employ more teachers and staff, run more programs and achieve better results, and that’s what the national data shows us,” Mr Andrews said.
    “I’ll leave it to the good judgement of Victorians to work out who it is that cuts education and talks a lot about these things but has never delivered, and others who I’m very proud to say, who are all about building the new schools we need and setting us up for the future.”

    As for the ‘Loto’ guy’s statement, was the absence of detail apparent to anyone else? Well, he has one fan. She appears every time a conservative government wants to cut funds, or change curriculum, or ‘get’ religion.

    “Jennifer Buckingham, a senior research fellow at the Centre for Independent Studies said the Coalition document contained much that “the majority of people would agree with”.
    Dr Buckingham, who has been asked by the Coalition to chair an independent review of the Victorian curriculum if it wins the state election in November, said literacy and numeracy outcomes in Victoria had not improved in recent years, despite increases in funding.
    “There’s also perceptions in the community, from employers particularly, that graduates of Victorian schools are not well prepared for the workforce,” she said.”

    As a proponent of phonics, she may understand the desire to simply tell her to phuck off. If you feel like testing your digestive constitution at this hour of the day, try this.

    As for these values;

    “Victorian students will be taught Australian values and “the principles of Western enlightenment” if the coalition opposition wins the 2018 state election.
    The opposition’s School Education Values Statement wants to see students taught values “that have stood the test of time”.
    The party has flagged ditching Victoria’s current cross-curriculum priorities of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories, engaging with Asia and sustainability.”

    Too funny, now that the evidence is mounting that our First People were engaged in trade with our Asian neighbours long before white fella got here (refer Dr Venturini’s articles). More from ‘Loto’ guy’s statement;

    “Concepts like the inherent dignity of the individual, religious tolerance, the principles of the Western enlightenment – such as freedom of speech, equality before the law and government by consent.”

    Not surprisingly, the next day he vowed to shut down councils that supported tolerance, freedom of speech and governance by consent. As for our First People, the SA and Vic governments are currently engaged in treaty talks, in the absence of anything but effluent and obscene affluence coming out of Canberra. What is curious is that the SA treaty is under threat if there is a change of government.

    “There’s a political imperative at play: SA goes to the polls in March, and state opposition leader Steven Marshall has vowed to scrap the treaty process, declaring treaties “a cruel hoax”.

    “I’m hoping that it doesn’t get scrapped, whichever party gets it, but if it does what has been built up at the agency level is that good working relationship and I think it would be a tragedy if that was lost,” he said. “It’ll be another one of those broken promises.”

    Whilst ‘Loto’ guy hasn’t declared his opposition to treaty, the current government doesn’t appear to trust him.

    “Victoria also has a state election looming in March [Victoria’s election isn’t actually till November]. Aboriginal affairs minister Natalie Hutchins has previously said she is pushing to lock in a model for the representative body and the treaty negotiations before then in order to shelter the process from a potential change in government.”

    Anyone wanna take a chance with the ‘Loto’ guy? Dare ya.
    Thank you Mr Brisbane and commenters. Take care

  34. Rob

    Agrree with your comments Kyran “loto” jerk has made some very outlandish policy comments. Not overly impressed by his desire to sack councils / local Govt as he decides fit. Dictatorship Victorian Style no thanks. Mathew guy is unsuited to the job his body language is appalling, he can’t stand still and doesn’t have any original ideas. only tilting at the windmills in big business !!

    The Victorian state liberals have shown their cards. They are adopting many of their Federal Counterparts polices, aka IPA and Centre for Independent studies (CIS) Both are well used right wing think tanks for Turnbul et al. Shoud matthew guy (aka Mr Skyscraper a nickname given to him during his hitch as Planning Minister and his penchant for rubber stamping lots and lots of high rise towers)

    IF Mr skyscraper doesn’t win, Turnbull will say… “oh well this was an Election NOT based on Federal issues. We here in Victoria are amazed that the State Libs are following so grandly in the steps of malcolm and others. Makes for an interesting campaign with Mr Skyscraper, parroting the extreme right wing notion that they are the best to govern Victoria. When Federally the liberals are the worst in a long long time at pulling the wrong levers at the wrong time with the worst PM


  35. Uta Hannemann

    A World of Three Zeros: The New Economics of Zero Poverty, Zero Unemployment, and Zero Net Carbon Emissions
    Book by Muhammad Yunus

    Rossleigh, you mentioned this book. I was curious and googled it. The headlines look very appealing. Maybe I should look into it a bit more. What do you think, Rossleigh, should children be encouraged to read a book like this one?

  36. Uta Hannemann

    About ‘A World of Three Zeros’

    I looked this up now a bit more.

    ‘A World of Three Zeros’ by Muhammad Yunus who is of course the well known Banker to the Poor and also a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. It is said that “his vision of an emerging new economic system can save humankind and the planet”.

    There is an excerpt to this book called WHAT’S INSIDE and I copied it here:

    This Post I copied about the Book: A World of Three Zeros

    It deals with:




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