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Day to Day Politics: Saturday Reflections.

Saturday 21 April 2018

Author’s Note.

Every Saturday from now on I plan to bring you something a little different. So this is a trial run and you will get the gist as you read through. Any thoughts and suggestions would be appreciated.

Comment of the week.

Russell Darrick. Wrote what follows in response to my piece last Saturday regarding the Turnbull governments disgraceful handling of the Gonski reforms.

“Gonski as originally conceived should be fully funded. Period.

The rest of my response would fill a book. I attended both types of schools (not in Australia). Then did 3 degrees. Then taught at the ANU when I arrived in Australia.

Since the very first experience I have been appalled at the level of argument, the distortions, the lies around the public/private “elitist” debate. The political, conflated nature of the debate has been particularly distorted, often by people who should know better.

Whitlam helped it for a while but we all know how that turned out.

To make any progress we need to acknowledge that (and Gonski did this):

A Parents have the right to choose how they educate their kids, fit whatever reason they want.

B Parents have the right to choose whether they want private or public.

C Choice involves money, private and public. Private and public can have Alumni organisations, some do, some don’t. In my own case such groups do fundraising to provide scholarships to students who could not afford to attend. At my 50th reunion our class handed over a cheque for $1.1M, the entire reunion for the school handed over about $6M.

That happens every year by the various 5 year anniversary classes. Those that got an education contribute back as they can, some large some small donations. The fundamental philosophy is crucial. So is the role in the society.

D The entire debate around elite education and schools in Australia is a sore constantly picked at by parents, unions, and politicians, aided and abetted by short-sighted “educators”, the media, and various well-meaning (or not) pressure groups.

E We need a moratorium.

F Schools vary in quality, size, purpose and a raft of other dimensions…any or all of which might or might not affect the outcomes for any particular student.

G Public schools are challenged by many things, in particular the whims of governments, the constant fiddling and interference with curricula (including the malicious manipulation for the capitalist machine to shape workers for the workforce, one of the worst reasons for fiddling).

H Public education is a right.

I Private education, of any type (Steiner, Grammar, Catholic, Christian, Islam, etc), is a choice.

J Most parents care about their kids, so do most teachers, their own and others.

K Private schools are less subject to whims of educational fads and tend to provide explicit traditions (good and bad), stability of curricula, and a great many other educational benefits. Other schools can do this too, including special schools like Fort Street. But in the end the public system is far less stable in the long run, largely due to constant ideological meddling by both the party in power in any one year and the Departments of Education playing their particular games and agendas. It is a mess. The luck of the draw in public schools depends on many factors including the demographics, the principals, the principles, the funding, the Parents Association, but mostly the politics. Class sizes, teacher loads, admin, regional issues, all come into the mix.

L Kids can do well in any school given some basics but as a parent it is always about what I or any parent wants, can afford, and how that marries up with my child, his or her needs, their skills, personalities, and parental judgment as to what type of roulette to play with my kid’s best shot at a great education, wherever we live. This might involve boarding schools, it might involve sacrifice, etc.

M Education is about taxes. We all pay taxes, that portion of taxes for education should be disturbed equally, including the RIGHT proportion going to private and public schools. Gonski, and others before, know that private schools deserve tax support precisely because they take pressure off the public system. But the support has to be proportional to that relief, which Ginski got pretty right, as did Gillard. Anything beyond that is back to parents, fees, and CHOICES.

N Gonski also understood that years of corrupted funding had to stop. Unfortunately the LNP have corrupted that in every way, just as they have corrupted TAFE, and the university system (I’ll sap E that for another day).

O Australian education is in crisis not because of public versus private schools but because of the constant political meddling, limited vision, and corruption by state and federal LNP governments, time after time.

P Gonski was a glimmer of hope as was Gillard’s vision. We should go back to it and get the politics the hell out of the entire area!”

The scandal sheet.

1 National Party according to Essential Polling has 3% of the vote and has 8 seats in the House Of Reps. Conversely the Greens have 9% and 1 seat. How come.

2 Some Asylum seekers on Manus and Nauru are now into their 6th year of incarceration without ever having committed a crime.

On the same subject. What sort of person would treat a 13-year-old girl so badly that she would attempt suicide three times. Then in order to get treatment had to go through our court system. I think you know who I’m talking about.

3 James Comey says the President is “untethered to truth,” and describes him as fixated in the early days of his presidency on having the FBI debunk salacious rumours he said were untrue but that could distress his wife.

4 Craig Kelly, with his version of preferences has the major parties at 50/50. Stats never cease to amaze me.

5 A document outlining the design principles of the Coalition’s national energy guarantee was leaked to Guardian Australia but didn’t give any critical elements including the level of emissions reduction, and its implementation. Tricky to the end.

6 Trumps tax cuts are not having the effect he said they would.

7 AFP have come up without any evidence in the case of the missing Dept of PM files.

8 The Government is still anxious to reward the big banks for the crimes they are admitting to at the Royal Commission.

9 From Alan Austin. It is worse than that.

Australia now has 734,100 people with no job at all.

There are another 1,107,000 people working part-time – some as little as two hours a week – who desperately need more paid hours to live.

Hence a total of 1,841,100 people are looking for adequately paid jobs right now.

That is close to the all-time high for Australia.

This is despite the global surge in trade, profits and jobs.

Top tweets.

Virginia Trioli

It’s odd. I don’t know why today I’ve been pulled into a discussion about online abuse – I usually let it slide. But some days silence feels like appeasement. And I’ve never understood why people get so abusive. Would they dare say this to our faces?

Brian krassenstein

18 Hours ago the White House Press Secretary, Sarah Sanders released a photo of Trump being briefed on Syria…

The Problem is that Mike Pence was in the room.

Mike Pence was in Peru during this time.

In any other administration this would be a major controversy.

Not this one


Gee, what a performance by Sally McManus this morning on #insiders she really is another example of the Australian labour movement producing quality performers.

I have to agree with that. She looked competent, authoritative and a future leader.

Paul Bongiorno

Malcolm Turnbull has done more than 100 special deals with some of Australia’s most elite private schools to give them money from a secret $7.1 million government slush fund. This at the same time as he’s ripping billions of dollars from needy public schools.

Bill Shorten

Can you believe this? Turnbull’s giving money to elite private schools while ripping $17 billion from schools most in need.

Michael Pascoe

Thanks heavens Mitch Fifield tossed Foxtel a lazy $30 million and cut the free-to-air licence fees or they’d barely be able to scrape together a billion for the poor old @CricketAus

Wayne Swan

Plutocrats win and grassroot cricket supporters lose – Cricket Australia snubs the law and flogs off Twenty20 & One Day cricket to pay tv.

Simon Banks

Today gross debt is $523.4 billion

(Source aofm.gov.au)

Up $250.4 billion since the 2013 election

When the LNP promised to “reduce” it

Craig Emerson

How can we pretend to be a decent, civilised society when we treat animals so appallingly?

The Polls from The Pollbludger

Labor 52 Coalition 48

In the week of the magic number thirty Newspoll, some polling-related consolation for Malcolm Turnbull.

“After Malcolm Turnbull’s worst week for polling news since the election, the BludgerTrack poll aggregate finds Labor’s lead at its narrowest in some time. The three results out this week included a Newspoll that had the Coalition ahead of Labor on the primary vote, something they have only managed a handful of times in the past year; a high-end-of-average result from Ipsos that included a 50-50 respondent-allocated two-party result, indicating a strong flow of preferences to the Coalition, which factors into the BludgerTrack preference model; and a par for the course result from Essential Research. Equally importantly, these new results displace a particularly bad data point from the Coalition from ReachTEL on March 28.”

Read of the week

Richard Flanagan’s speech to The National Press Club last Wednesday. Brilliantly Australian, thoughtful and inspirational.

Tim’s timely tips

Tim Leeder is a Facebook friend who messages me every day with all manner of comments.

1 Barbara Bush said she doesn’t know how any woman could vote for Trump.

2 Hawke and Howard were correct. The fortunes of a government are often linked to the economy. If you preside over a healthy economy you will rarely be defeated. And if you preside over a sick economy you rarely will win. It’s not universally the case – sure there are examples of exemptions in both cases. But as a general rule it is right.

3 All Liberal seats but vulnerable to some degree. Although Bradfield and Menzies and North Sydney are fairly safe. Friend looked at it closely. Said labor could realistically win an extra 16 seats. 18 at a stretch.

Howard said he was not of the view the next election was unwinnable for the Coalition. I suppose not – you have to be careful saying an election in unwinnable 12 months out. But this one is going to be tough for them.

Friend made a good point. The way things are going the Greens and labor combined could control the Senate or be very close to that.

4 Falling birth rates and an ageing population are rapidly changing the make-up of key Liberal seats in Sydney.

Bennelong, Bradfield, North Sydney. Those seats.

Also in Melbourne. Menzies and Chisholm.

5 Hawke and Howard were correct. The fortunes of a government are often linked to the economy. If you preside over a healthy economy you will rarely be defeated. And if you preside over a sick economy you rarely will win. It’s not universally the case – sure there are examples of exemptions in both cases. But as a general rule it is right.

The other argument is to increase the minimum wage and you create thousands of jobs by increasing demand.

6 GST increase hurts the poor

7 The GG assumed office in March 2014. Meaning his term is up in March 2019. That’s about when the election will be held probably. I suspect his term will be increased by 2 years say.

Clown of the week

Barnaby Joyce gets the prize this week for admitting that he was naive in thinking the Banking Royal Commission wouldn’t produce much against the banks.Dumber than Dumb.

On this day last year I wrote

The Essential Poll. Labor leads Coalition 54% to 46% in two-party preferred vote. Labor is well ahead of the Coalition on the two-party preferred measure. Some interesting results in their surveys.

Pauline Hanson has a higher disapproval rating from voters than approval.

The poll showed 48% disapproved of her performance, while 32% approved.

An observation

”She thinks climate is the only thing you can do with a ladder”.

My thought for the day

“When you tell a lie you deny the other persons right to the truth”

PS. Businesses who don’t pay tax and take from the dead. What next?

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  1. Cassandra

    Great read; covered so many of the topics of concern today.

  2. Terry2

    Today gross debt is $523.4 billion (Source aofm.gov.au) Up $250.4 billion since the 2013 election

    I noticed that the new National Party leader and acting Prime Minister Michael McCormack when addressing the National Press Club last week slipped in a reference to the debt and deficit disaster that the Labor Party bequeathed to the incoming coalition government in 2013.

    It is quite disturbing that our Deputy Prime Minister is still peddling this twaddle and even more disturbing that he believes it.

    His predecessor, Joyce was telling us before the coalition came to office that Australia could become bankrupt and unable to repay Labor’s debts. He said this in 2016 :

    … when John Howard handed government over to the Labor Party and then the Labor, Green, independent alliance, Australia was owed tens of billions of dollars by the world. When they handed government back to us, all your listeners owed the world hundreds of billions of dollars. – Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce, speaking on the ABC’s AM program.
    Some people actually believed this and undoubtedly it influenced the way they vote just as we are now seeing how false and fake news was influential in bringing Trump to power.

    Do you recall how social media lit-up prior to the US Presidential election when the Pope was reported as backing Trump.

    The extent to which this and other fake reporting had on the election has still not been quantified but undoubtedly there was some impact on the gullible.

    Our challenge remains, eternal vigilance and taking nothing on face value.

  3. New England Cocky

    Uhm … if we live in a capitalist society, why is it logical for the government to subsidise private schools at great expense to their own state schools? You don’t see Woolworths subsidising Coles, so why should private schools be paid for providing a third rate academic education for the kids of aspiring middle class wannabes? There is no doubt that the original intention of state funding of private schools was to fund to dilapidated Catholic parochial schools that until the early 70s were staffed and run by priests at limited expense to the families, but after government subsidies were introduced, the Church demanded, and got, the equivalent of lay teachers cost allocated to the RC school grants.

    After more than 50 years there has been little change, except that private school Principals are frequently paid three or four times a state school Principal for a school having a quarter of the enrolment; the sporting facilities of many private schools are Olympic standard while state school students use the council pool; and private schools still provide a third rate academic education as measured decades of public examination results.

    Let those who want private schools fund them totally from their own pocket, follow the standard state or national curriculum and be held accountable for maintaining an acceptable academic standard on fear of de-registration. This was the situation pre-1960s when those then politicians sought to buy the Catholic vote against the Liberal PM, Bob “Pig-iron” Menzies. Sure, some schools were financially inviable, but that is the norm for a capitalist system; the poorly managed fail and are replaced by fresh contenders. For example, St Gabriel’s School Waverley NSW failed, was sold and became a bowling green.

    This long standing addiction to government subsidy is destroying our egalitarian model; about $150 BILLION PER YEAR IS GIFTED free, gratis and for nothing to the undeserving wealthy and corporates by way of rebates, subsidies and other tax minimisation provisions. The private school sector gets about $9 BILLION PER YEAR before these fresh Turdball gifts.

    Now consider the “Great Budget Blowout” sponsored by Smoking’ Joe Hockey and his financial kinder mate Scat Morriscum; $523.4 BILLION, up from $250.4 BILLION since the 2013 Federal elections; which makes yet another strike against the NLP bad joke that the “NLP are better financial managers than the ALP”.

    Cut the about $150 BILLION PER YEAR tax fee gifts to the undeserving wealthy and corporates and the Budget returns to balance in about two years … but that balancing act is yet another piece of political propaganda to deflect attention from the incapacity of the present NLP misgovernment.

  4. helvityni

    “PS. Businesses who don’t pay tax and take from the dead. What next? ”

    The answer: Babies who have not yet been born. As soon a woman finds out she is pregnant ,her unborn child starts paying tax…

    Two great Australians: Sally McManus and Richard Flanagan…I’m still looking for some on the other side, no luck so far….

    To Virginia Trioli: There are plenty of unhappy people about; they want you to be unhappy as well…We all have those on-line abuse stories…

  5. helvityni

    “New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern has caused a stir with a striking image of her walking the halls of Buckingham Palace swathed in a traditional Māori cloak during this week’s Commonwealth heads of government meeting.”(Guardian)

    WOW, what a woman, I’m envious of NZ…

  6. Barry Thompson.

    Thank you John.
    Is there more detail regarding the special deals mentioned in Paul Bongiorno’s tweet?
    Off topic, is Joseph Carli ok? perhaps he’s on holiday. I am missing his contribution’s.

  7. kerri

    Don’t agree with your “Clown of the week” John.
    Do not like Barnaby but at least he had the guts to admit what all the others are realising right now and didn’t try to make it sound like it was his idea like Kelly O’Dwyer or like he was going to punish all those nasty people he has been protecting for years like Scott Morrison.

  8. wam

    Good morning!! My facebook is happy that the crows fell in after the ‘pie’ debarcle.

    You repeatedly ask why there is 9 nationals (*the party claims 16 nationals)?.
    An understanding of our democracy and a simple look at riverina shows:
    the NP were chosen by 57%
    labor 25%
    independent 6%
    greens 4%
    the NP were chosen by 42%
    labor 32%
    Katter 6%
    greens 5%
    I think the greens are desperate to claim they are influential luckily having more representatives in the senate than
    their vote warrants but not enough. Sadly Xmas 2009 was not a great success and Xmas 2013 another boost to the rabbott both of
    these should be used by labor to regain Melbourne.

    If there has been anything consistent in my posts it is the silly labor silence over the rabbott’s lies about debt and
    labor’s acceptance of the even more ridiculous belief that the LNP are the economic managers and little johnny was the guru
    treasurer(why is labor silent on his selling airports, telstra and gold)

    Does billy and tanya expect workers to forget the LNP and murdoch almost daily message of labor economic doom by ourselves?? An unlikely occurance without a labor constant memory jog.

    I realise it is an anathema but a slogan(s) to show the libs debt lies and to show why countries who protected big business in the GFC are still affected. They could also have a laugh at suppository, shirtfront and canadia
    As for the gst packer shows the benefit of the rich and powerful.
    ‘I have never paid full price for anything in my life’
    ps trump seems successful in nth korea????

  9. diannaart


    Well thanks for setting me straight, here was I thinking Barnaby deserved Biggest Whopper of the Week when he claimed he was “So naive”… he certainly earned his place in the Club of “I knew nothing, nothing …”.

    Barnaby? Naive?

    Self deluded, self-entitled overly privileged git, I accept, but naive as to what is wrong and has been wrong in the finance sector for decades, I think not.


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