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Day to Day Politics: Dutton can’t put his argument in plain English

Monday 26 June 2017

After a few days confined to my bed with a virus I’m now well and ready to continue the quest for a better government, a better Australia and a better world.

1 Australia’s Minister for Australian Values and Dog Whistling, the Right Honorable Peter Dutton uses the English Language in the manner of a dishonorable coward who wants to deter people from becoming Australian citizens. Well, ones of a certain ethnicity and religion, that is.

My daughter’s partner is Italian. His parents immigrated to Australia after the Second World War and have worked, paid taxes and raised 6 children in country Victoria. Although their English is poor, forever engrained with the thickness of mother tongue, my daughter gets on famously with them.

Under Peter Dutton’s proposed changed to our citizenship laws they would flunk the test. The English language test that he has been talking about is at the same level that a whole lot of universities demand for entrance.

Labor rightly has called it a bizarre act of snobbery from Malcolm Turnbull and Peter Dutton. It is more than that. It is a coded message. It tells a whole lot of immigrants who are already living here permanently that they will never get to pledge allegiance to Australia. It also tells a whole lot of Australians who were born here that if Malcolm Turnbull and Peter Dutton had their way they would prefer it if you weren’t here.

It is a message not of welcoming, but of discouragement. It is a message deeply entrenched in nationalism, nativism and xenophobia. One that does not pretend otherwise.

But since we are talking Language here let’s examine Dutton’s use of it.

In an interview with Ray Hadley last week he said they were talking about English and the learning of it. I’m quoting Katharine Murphy in an article for the Guardian. It’s necessary because she so subtly destroys Dutton’s case.

”It’s a very different period, Ray, from when people came to our country post the second world war in the late 40s, early 50s, there wasn’t the support that is available now, people were working in cutting cane or tobacco or working as tilers and whatnot.

People who are coming to Australia today are coming here to start a new life, they have the ability to learn online, all of the support around improving their English language proficiency, which wasn’t there 30 or 40 years ago.

There are some communities here in Australia, as we’ve seen in the United Kingdom and elsewhere, where no English is spoken and you know people don’t abide by many of the Australian laws.

Now, I’m saying that that is coming to an end and we want people to speak the English language. We want them to improve their English language over time. We want them to demonstrate that they’re adhering to Australian values …”

After a short interlude in which Dutton characterised Bill Shorten (Labor is opposing the package) as being a puppet of his party’s left faction, who were the puppets of the Greens, and out of touch with ”what I think is a commonsense approach that would be supported by everyday Australians” we were back again to the English test.

“We are making the test tougher – there’s no question about that – but this is the prize of Australian citizenship and when people say, well, you know, you’ve got foreign fighters, Australian citizens overseas, why do you allow them back?

And I think as we’ve discussed before, they come back because they are entitled to come back under the Australian law and the Australian constitution because they are Australian citizens and that is why it’s incredibly important on all of those levels to get this change through the parliament.”

You might need a minute to take all those feelings in, so feel free to stop reading for a bit while that settles on you.

Just pretend you are listening to some hold music and when you are ready we can work through his points in turn.

If we take Dutton at his own words, we have:

Rationale one: it is easier to learn English now than it was for postwar migrants because of the internet, and ”all of the [unspecified] support”.

Rationale two: not speaking English in ”some [unspecified] communities” equates with law breaking.

Rationale three: speaking English is a demonstration of adherence to Australian values, ipso facto.

Rationale four: a tougher citizenship test would somehow stop foreign fighters coming back to Australia, or perhaps screen out the foreign fighters in the first place – it’s not entirely clear.

These arguments, to put it mildly, are more front-bar wisdom than fact.

If you are any the wiser as to why theses changes are so urgently needed perhaps you can enlighten me in the comments. Until then they shall remain what I believe they are. A crude but blatantly conservative move to exclude people who don’t speak English.

It’s all about white superiority of the ”them and us” kind that should be condemned. But it is what you would expect from a man of his ilk.

2 But on the subject of Gonski, I am still of the view that Shorten played a bad hand. It would have been far better to accept, after fighting for a few concessions, the Coalitions legislation but lay claim to Gonski and empathise the fact that the right never seem to have any ideas of their own.

As it is now they can only offer improvements that in the economic climate may not be possible. When Gonski finishes his second report on the classroom I’m sure teacher overload will be an issue.

One thing Labor could think about is employing final year students as teacher’s assistants. With the required scores a youthful presence in the classroom would be popular. They would be one-year positions so that you have a constant flow of students gaining work experience. Some might decide they don’t like it but for others it could be a pathway into a teaching career.

3 Words and the way they are used matter. Hear are a couple of examples. The first one is Michelle Rowland speaking about the latest media diversity proposals.

”This is Groundhog Day! When I was eight months pregnant, we were here moving this exact same amendment to extract the two-out-of-three rule repeal from this. My daughter is now six months old. She is meeting all of her developmental milestones. Yet, this Government in four years—a big, fat nothing has been achieved in this space. I will not take lectures from those opposite wanting to talk about Labor being stuck in the past with a 1980s mentality when we have those opposite building a 19th-century copper broadband network.”

4 Emma Husar, Labor MP for Lindsay who has a child with autism took exception to Pauline Hanson’s view of teaching them.

“Even on the days that are hard – when you’re frustrated, and your disability makes you angry – you are still better than she is on her best day.”

5 At the same time moderate (yes, moderate) Liberal Simon Birmingham was desperate to have his Gonski legislation passed. In the Senate, Labor asked the Education Minister eight times to repudiate Pauline Hanson’s remarks, and eight times he refused. If you cant get a moderate such as Birmingham to repudiate her senseless remarks then it shows just how far the Liberal party has swung to the right. What’s a vote worth.

Well on that subject you have to conclude that both Hanson and Xenophon are both Conservative teasers. The both have their roots in the Liberal Party.

6 Before I became ill I was canvasing leadership and where Bill Shorten fits into the scheme of things. Predictably there were those who thought that what the Australian left needed was a Jeremy Corbyn or a Bernie Sanders. Thinking about this I wondered about how he was portrayed by our media.

After all, when you say things like this …

“Isn’t it now clear that, because of this Government’s policies, when the Parliament adjourns, millionaires will win, parents with children at the King’s School will win, but pensioners will lose, people with rising electricity prices will lose, weekend workers will lose, children at public and Catholic schools will lose? Why does this Prime Minister only ever look after the big end of town and punish everybod.”

… how could it be interpreted as anything else but Sanders and Corbyn speak. Clearly he is always on about inequality but our ears aren’t attune to what he is saying.

7 Amidst all the talk of a crisis in energy and what we should do to tackle Climate Change a debate that has now been festering for over a decade. One that has incurred it’s share of full frontal lying and lying by omission we can witness just how far the conservatives will go to hide the truth.

Are you aware that the Government has not published any emissions for six months?

Yes, that’s right.

Two quarterly emissions updates have gone missing. Why is the government keeping the facts hidden from us?

Previously, we had five consecutive quarters of increasing emissions in Australia. Last time data was released in June 2016, there had been a 0.8% increase in emissions compared with the previous year (NGGI 2016). Now you can be assured that if our emissions were going down then the Government would be shouting so from the top of Mount Kosciusko. So we have to assume that they going up. Going up to a point where the Government would be embarrassed to release them.

My thought for the day.

“After arguing about Climate change and the Environment for more than a decade Australia still doesn’t have a clearly articulated and legislated policy on climate change. Why?”

 

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16 comments

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  1. Terry2

    My father-in-law taught migrants English at the Wacol Migrant Centre (West of Brisbane – operating between 1949-1987) principally to Italian migrants and helped them assimilate into their new environment.

    In those days we made real efforts to support migrants and refugees and many progressed to create successful careers, businesses and wealth albeit with faltering English : probably many would fail Dutton’s test but at least we made an effort in those days.

    As has been noted by a number of well informed commentators, this move by Dutton has nothing to do with citizenship and national security, it is all about wedging Labor and dog-whistling racists otherwise why wouldn’t Dutton also announce additional funding for the gutted TAFE colleges so that they could teach English.

    Dutton is a disgrace !

  2. John Richardson

    The dishonourable Peter Dutton is not the only dog-whistler at work on this issue.
    True to Liberal pretensions, Senator Fierravanti-Wells, the Minister for International Development & the Pacific, was also out & about last week, defending the government’s proposal to toughen English language standards required for citizenship, on the basis that “the ability to communicate properly with others is critical to successful migration & a multicultural society”.
    It’s said that people in glass houses should never throw stones, so instead of assaulting Australians with another crude round of dog-whistling, perhaps the good senator should clean up her own workplace before seeking to trash the wider world?
    As Annabel Crabb so helpfully reminded us, a number of the senator’s colleagues would doubtless fail the proposed higher test ….
    Commenting on the proposed test, Senator Hanson said: “It’s a start in the right direction”; her colleague, Jacqui Lambie, gave us the wonderful legal dictum “anus of proof”, while Finance Minister Mathias Cormann delivered the fabulous “rose of crowns”.
    But if we ever needed reminding that it just might be better for all of us if fewer people attempted to speak English, nothing could surpass the effort of Tony Abbott who, as Prime Minister, was undoubtedly “the suppository of all wisdom”.

  3. Kaye Lee

    Terry2,

    My parents met when they were both teaching at Villawood primary school and Dad taught adult migrants at night too. You may not be aware but the Easybeats was formed by 5 kids from what used to be called Villawood Migrant Hostel, later renamed Villawood Detention Centre. Dutton hasn’t a clue.

  4. Freethinker

    I do not know if there any statistics out there regarding how many Australians that finished year 10 have good proficiency in English.
    I would be interesting to know and if it is bad the blame is on our government.
    I have a tremendous difficult to learn foreign languages but even with my terrible English I was proud many years ago to be accepted in 2 Australian universities which appreciated that the experience that I have was more valuable to the country than the negative aspects of my English proficiency.
    My wife also come from South America and I have lost count of how many times Australian people asked her how to spelling some words.
    Then again, many times that people used to say to us: “speak English you bloody wog”.
    The lesson is ignoring people like Dutton and other uneducated individuals.

  5. Keith

    I loath the One Nation view of the world; but, there are elements of what Pauline Hanson says that are true.

    Schools do have students who for various reasons do not fit in the class room. It may be through behavioural problems, mental health disorders, learning difficulties, being bullied at school, drugs, physical and sexual assault, or family issues. Especially with younger children, they are not able to express readily what is happening in their lives, it is often expressed through poor behaviour or withdrawal.

    These students need assistance; in the State where I live the solution has been to suspend students which might be viewed as a reward by the student who has been suspended. Over the years my observation is that after a disruptive student has left a school, a new student takes their place very quickly in relation to poor behaviour.

    Special schools and In-School-Units have worked in the past; properly resourced they tend to be very expensive. They have been beneficial for some students.

    Schools need greater help from Allied Health staff … Psychologists, Social Workers, Speech Pathologists and properly credentialed Special Education teachers etc. Taking a disciplinary action in relation to some students only intensifies poor behaviour e.g. students with a mental health issue such as a Bi-Polar disorder, or the more common Depressive Disorders and Anxiety. A Bi-Polar is a disorder very hard to diagnose, requiring assessment and treatment by a Psychiatrist.

    Make no mistake, students with slightly unusual characteristics can easily become a target in their neighbourhood schools. Though when a student body is informed about a students issues, the particular student is often treated very well, a very delicate area to make a decision in; confidentiality being just one of the considerations.

    My comments arise from having worked in a school system and later in mental health for 30 years prior to retiring 3 years ago.

  6. wam

    I have spent the last month with a friend(cancer) 3000km from my warmth and was worried about the flu but am only 900 from home.
    Love number two:
    I often wrote(every time our lack of maths success-in 85 my town had 4 secondary schools each with two top level maths courses, extension classes in junior years and with a strong maths faculty now there is 2 senior schools with one class each and 4 7-9 middle schools with maths faculties devoid of math trained teachers, athough one middle school is attached to a senior school so there is some chance of extension) to our ed department about senior high math students being paid (a pittance) to take a gap year to be an aide in junior maths classes in return for 1st year with no HECS.

    The emissions omissions is suss and pynes sub building is ‘susser’ making his ‘equal marriage’ diversion the sussiest.

    As for your thought, Bobby and Christine have expressed no regrets, so it is time ask the diludbransimkins if they have any regrets now about voting climate change down or blackmailing gillard into giving the rabbott the ‘juliar’ stick he used to lie his way into office.

  7. helvityni

    Talking about languages; in most European countries school kids have to learn MANY foreign languages, for me it was natural that you spoke your mother tongue fluently…

    Here people make a song and dance about being able read and write in one language, their own.

    Go and study some Hungarian, Croatian or any other , and see if you reach University level in two or four years…

    How good is Dutton’s French, as good as Abbott’s.. 🙂 Uni level?

  8. helvityni

    Re: photo above

    He bares his teeth, but his eyes don’t smile, they stay cold, without compassion…

  9. havanaliedown

    Wam, “diludbransimkins” – who?

  10. John Richarson

    ‘onya Mate!!

  11. stephengb2014

    Anyone promoting this new onerous english test test, or even the current english test, are saying to all and sundary that you are simply xenaphobic.

    xenophobia
    zɛnəˈfəʊbɪə/Submit
    noun
    dislike of or prejudice against people from other countries.
    “racism and xenophobia are steadily growing in Europe”
    synonyms: racism, racialism, racial hatred, ethnocentrism, ethnocentricity;

  12. Dave

    Wonder if ‘spud’ would be interested in attending a university in say, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Iraq, Yemen or any of the other non English speaking wartorn countries that he detests so much. I reckon we could crowd-fund his fees for a year or so just to get rid of him.

  13. Kronomex

    That attempt at a smile must have left his face hurting for hours.

    I’ve met and worked with “Australians” who had never read a book and were proud that they never would, “Books are for geeks and queers (being polite).” One character had read two books in his entire life, the same book about rugby league twice. Most of them couldn’t string a sentence together without a certain swear word being used every third word.

    Duncehead Dutton is a plague canker on this country and Turnbull the cheese maker, oops, meek just ducks for cover.

  14. Kyran

    “It’s all about white superiority, of the ”them and us” …”
    That says it all.
    Thank you Mr Lord and commenters. I sincerely hope your convalescence goes well. Take care

  15. jamesss

    There is plenty of room for Spud and the rest of the NLP in the Pit, you know the one Spud, full of FIRE.

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