Ok, VATE stands for the Victorian Association For Teaching of English and one of the keynote speakers at the conference this year is Professor Gillian Triggs. Other notable speakers include Van Badham and Shen Narayanasamy. Apparently these people are too left-wing to speak at a conference that – according to Kevin Donnelly – should be about grammar and such. We shouldn’t be looking at evaluating arguments, critical thinking or persuasive writing. And we certainly shouldn’t be hearing from any “left wing” people. Mind you, nobody seems to have a problem with conservatives like Donnelly speaking to groups of teachers, even though one of his books (“Dumbing Down”) incorrectly tried to create a verb out of the word “dumb” which as we all know means unable to speak and not stupid. (Ok, I know that there’s a debate to be had about whether language evolves or not; it’s just that I know where Kevin sits on that debate so I find the use of the word “dumbing” a little hypocritical… But more on Turnbull after I’ve dealt with the IPA)
Now, in case you missed it because you don’t read “The Australian” but the IPA doesn’t think that such people should talk to a group of English teachers. (Link may be behind a paywall. Rupert’s good like that. He stops poor people from reading his newspapers which I think is an excellent idea which should be expanded as much as possible!) Of course, being a two-day conference, there are a host of speakers and presenters. In fact, I also have a workshop on the Friday and I feel rather miffed that the IPA didn’t think that I was worth mentioning! After all, I write for the AIMN – that surely makes me left-wing and not at all appropriate to speak at a conference. Even if my topic has nothing to do with politics. Surely anybody who thinks that some of Andrew Bolt’s articles are a little lacking in empirical evidence is too left-wing these days to be allowed to address a crowd.
However, putting my personally affront to one side, I can’t help but wonder how the IPA reconciles its position on this with its position on 18C. You remember? They were concerned that 18C was stifling free speech. Apparently free speech doesn’t apply to Gillian Triggs. Or rather it does. It’s just that she shouldn’t be allowed to speak to teachers because clearly hearing any speaker that the IPA thinks politically unsound will be enough to radicalise them. After all this is what VATE says about Trigg’s keynote speech:
“The topic for Gillian’s speech is: ‘Human Rights in a Post Truth World’. Do facts matter? Is there such a thing as ‘post truth’, or an ‘alternative fact’? Have we not long been subject to propaganda, distortions, false news and outright lies in global and national politics? Is there anything new under the sun or is acceptance of the idea of ‘post truth’ a new phenomenon?
Gillian Triggs will consider these questions in the context of the protection of fundamental freedoms in Australia. She will argue that we need a Bill of Rights to provide a benchmark against which courts can hold governments to account for compliance with Australia’s international human rights obligations.”
I guess that I must be left-wing after all because, not only don’t I find that particularly radical, but I also think that an organisation that complains that they’re not free to say what they like while wishing to stop others from addressing people could be considered just a wee bit fascist… Which some might say is like being a little bit pregnant.
Speaking of inconsistencies, Malcolm Turnbull!
Mm, I’m tempted to leave it at that. Let’s face it, you’ve probably already thought of five or six things I could be about to mention after the words “Inconsistencies, Malcolm Turnbull”, but I was thinking more about his position on the audit of MPs citizenship.
Just forget his rant about Bill Shorten’s citizenship a few months ago: “The position with citizenship and (so far as) Mr Shorten’s papers are concerned is that, to be honest, I don’t why he doesn’t produce the documentation. It’s perfectly clear that he inherited UK citizenship by descent through his father. That’s not in issue. He’s said he renounced it but he doesn’t want to produce one sheet of paper. It’s up to him whether he wants to do it. But this is a guy who is not known for transparency.”
Now demands for an audit are a “witch-hunt” because all MPs know that they need to uphold the constitution, so there’s no need to prove that they have, even though six have been found to have been a little bit slack in checking this – we can just presume that the rest are ok. No need for people to do anything. It’s was only Mr Shorten who’s untrustworthy. You know, he’s a “sycophant” who sucks up to millionaires and there’s something wrong with that unless you’re a voter and “aspirational”.
And, as for Josh Frydenberg. Well…
Turnbull does make a compelling case for the absurdity of suggesting that Josh has allegiance to Hungary, given that his parent’s were Holocaust survivors and declared non-citizens. However, the problem will be changes in Hungarian law, because, well, if the law says that Frydenbeg has Hungarian citizenship then it’s pretty much another one of those technicalities which is seeing an unusually high turnover rate in our senators. After all, nobody asked Scott Ludlum or Larissa Waters whether they liked their respective alternative homelands or not. It’s therefore irrelevant to suggest his feelings about Hungary would matter. One might as well argue that he’d surely have some sympathy for those on Manus Island because he’d understand the problems of being a stateless refugee because of his parents.
Actually, I did find one of Mr Frydenberg’s statements on the matter even more confusing than his approach to energy policy. He said: “It’s absurd to think you could become a citizen of a country unwillingly.” Mm, tell that to Barnaby Joyce. Actually, when I come to think of it, most people don’t make a conscious choice about their citizenship. “Yes, well, I wanted to be an American citizen so I chose to be born there even though my parents were poor farmers in Albania and couldn’t manage to get me there. Please issue me with papers as I never chose to be Albanian. I was made a citizen unwillingly!”
Early this week, a reporter asked Malcolm Turnbull if he was over it and ready to just toss in the towel, to which he replied: “I’ve never had more fun in my life!” I guess that’s the important thing. Malcolm’s having fun, so why should he actually care that since becoming Prime Minister, the only thing that he’s achieved is… um, he… well, there’s the… No, that has happened yet, that’s just a plan… but there’s… no, that’s just a guarantee.
Well, at least he’s having fun. Perhaps, that should be Bill Shorten’s next question in Parliament.
“My question is to the Prime Minster, given the recent (fill in latest stuff-up) is the member for Wentworth still having fun?”