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Tag Archives: Education

A Not so Reluctant Republic

republic

Author’s note.
The latest Essential Poll shows that 47% of Australians support a Republic 32% don’t and 20% have no opinion.

Royal Parade, in the Melbourne suburb of Carlton is a magnificent leafy tree lined boulevard. It may not match the historical importance of St Kilda Road but for me it is where my Australian patriotism birthed.
At the North end of Royal Parade where the long journey to Sydney begins is the home of the Carlton Football Club. Australian Rules football is uniquely Australian. I played the game with some success and I have never lost my love for its indigenous flavor. It was at this ground that I saw my first match and passages of play remain indelible on my mind more than sixty years on.

However, this boulevard occupies another memory. The year of 1952 saw the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II and in 1954 the new Queen visited Australia. On this occasion her motorcade from Essendon Airport was to take her to the city via Royal Parade and school children lined the route. We were given a small Australian flag and a Union Jack. I was familiar with our flag because we raised it every day at school. All the children waved in joyous spontaneity but I refused to wave the English flag and tossed it away.

One teacher gave me a decent clip behind my left ear but I would not conform. I sauntered off in adolescent anger and wagged school for the remainder of the day. To this day I cannot explain my journey into republicanism. I was too young to understand the ramifications of it all. Because I had spent my early childhood (with illness) in a home and attended five different schools in the space of six years I was really not qualified to form a definitive view on anything.

I left school at 13 and started work before my 14th birthday. I am, in the main self-educated. I suppose I could have been influenced by the Irish on my mother’s side but I think it was more the adornment of all things English in the society of the time in preference to Australia that took me down the republican path. Having said that, probably the socio economic environment in which I found myself helped form my views on social justice and other things.

I have always found this nationalistic worship of individuals (usually with no redeeming features) rather odd, if not dangerous. So when as a teenager I went to the flicks or on any occasion where “God Save The Queen” was played I refused point blank to stand for the anthem. In fact I often wondered what it was that she needed saving from.

When in discussion about war and people talked about fighting for the mother country, Queen and flag I would simply say, how preposterous, we fight for what we believe to be right. Not a piece of cloth or person. I felt we owed them nothing anyway. After all Churchill was willing to sacrifice Australia for Briton’s gain during the Second World War. We were lucky that John Curtin stood up to him. Churchill even resisted the return of Australian troops from the Middle East to defend their own country; he wanted to use them in Burma to defend India against the advancing Japanese.

At this time in my life, growing up in Australia where the Prime Minister was ostensibly more British (and spoke like it) than the British and people felt they owed the mother country something, although they couldn’t explain why. So I carried my republicanism in my back pocket until the Australian Republican Movement was formed with Malcolm Turnbull at its head. I worked diligently for the cause during the 1999 referendum and had the honor of introducing former Premier Sir Rupert Hamer at a function.

There is no doubt in my mind that we had the right model to take to the people. We felt we had a reasonable chance of success but we were overwhelmed by the negativity of the media. Of course John Howard acted like he was being perfectly reasonable but he had his pit bull terriers Tony Abbott and Nick Minchen distorting the facts with outlandish lies and Howard never once repudiated them. In fact Tony Abbott has never lost the capacity to tell the most outrageous untruths. Well he’s probably better at it now. One of course has to wonder why such a serious Catholic who knowingly accepts that one of his faith is by birth ineligible should support the monarchy at all.

So the country lost interest in the matter and it is generally accepted that until the current Monarch retires or dies, our apathy shall continue. Malcolm Turnbull believes this will be the catalyst for action and is in all probability correct.

The way forward is through a non-binding plebiscite with a simple question. For example.

“Do you think Australia should become a republic with an Australian as its own head of state?”

A majority of us would support this and it would pave the way for exploration and development of various models. And with consensus the final model would evolve. As I said earlier, I found nothing wrong with the original model. That being that from a short list the Prime Minister puts forward a person who is then given approval with a two thirds majority by a joint sitting of both houses. I would argue that the people elect the Parliament and then entrust their representatives to appoint a President on their behalf.

After all they entrust them to run the country. For those open to a direct election I would simply warn that this method would actually politicise the appointment. Suitable candidates may not be willing to stand in an election and would decline. They would not be interested in a popular contest. Conversely many unsuitable people would and could win on the basis of popularity.

The British Monarchy to my way of thinking is undemocratic and inequitable in so much as it goes against commonly accepted Australian values such as fairness and egalitarianism. Currently their head of state is selected not on merit but by the principle of hereditary male primogeniture (although that has since changed) and of course Catholics being specifically ineligible. This is discriminatory and unfair, and wouldn’t be allowed under the anti-discrimination provisions of Australian law, yet is still the method of selection for the Australian head of state.

Given that the people were fully informed and educated on the proposals for an Australian Republic with an Aussie as head of state and a consensus agreed upon, then we could proceed to a referendum. If successful, we would then be able to move forward into the new millennium as a fully free, united and confident nation. After 110 years of federation, we have grown up and if we are to take our place in the world, we must break our last constitutional links with England.

It is utterly preposterous that we don’t have an Australian head of state. Imagine if during the course of the recent hung parliament we had a President of the calibre of Sir William Deane or indeed, the current Governor General, Quentin Bryce. Although a ceremonial head of state his/her quiet calm could have reduced the toxicity of public debate that has insinuated itself on the Australian public during that period.

I recall after the referendum reading Malcolm Turnbull’s book “The Reluctant Republic” where he accused John Howard (The lying rodent George Brandis called him) of breaking the hearts of Australians. He was in fact correct. He dudded us and this Australian shed a tear.

If you haven’t read Dickens, you’re not qualified to teach Chemistry!

 

“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

Benjamin Franklin. (Often attributed to Albert Einstein who was quoting Franklin)

A few years ago there was a suggestion that the number of novels that Victorian Year 12 English students could be reduced by one. There was an outcry, and the proposal was dropped.

Andrew Bolt was particularly scathing about the idea that students be allowed to study a film or a play, instead of a novel, and he devoted a whole article to how we would be losing our culture if the study of Shakespeare was no longer mandated in Year 12 English. I sent him a comment – which he never published, of course – where I pointed out that Shakespeare had only ever been compulsory in Year 12 Literature, and that was several years ago. And where I made the rather important point that Shakepeare actually wrote plays and sonnetts, not novels.

Whether not studying Dickens and the Classics actually destroys civilisation as we know it, however, is a debate for another time. I just bring this up because the Bolt example is fairly typical of what happens when non-educators start talking about the education system. It’s not that I don’t think that they have a right to make input, it’s just that their input needs to be balanced against what actually happens in schools, and what anyone with any experience in education can predict about particular proposals. Take, the recent NSW suggestion to make Maths compulsory in Year 12.

Ok, I’m sure that the first reaction of a large number of people is that we need to improve our Maths skills, so this is a damn fine idea. So before we continue, I’d like to ask a simple question.

maths question

Right. I’ve just divided you into two classes of people. There are those, who are can answer that and those who can’t.

If you can, I suspect you probably think that compulsory maths is a good idea. If you can’t, you’re probably thinking either it isn’t a good idea, or why are you asking me for, I’m not going to do Year 12?

To those who can answer, I would like to say that I value your opinion, and I’ll respect it even more, if you spend six weeks trying to explain trigonometry to the kids who wanted to drop Maths at the end of Year 10.

The trouble with suggestions such as making Maths compulsory to the end of Year 12 is that very little thought is given to the actuality of doing something like this. Granted, there are a number of students who lack numeracy skills when they leave school, but another year or two of Maths isn’t going to improve them, unless there’s a totally different approach to the one that failed to give them adequate numeracy skills in the eleven years of school that they’d already completed.

While I was a teacher, I spent a number of years where I was responsible for students making a change to the subjects studied at senior level. Every year towards the end of first semester, I would have at least one conversation that went something like this:

“I want to drop Maths and pick up something else?”

“Why?”

“I’m failing miserably. I’ve never been any good at Maths.”

“Then why did you pick it?”

“My parents thought I should keep my options open.”

At this point I was always tempted to ask how parents thought that failing Maths at Year 11 was keeping one’s options open. Or did they think that suddenly the student would decide that a career as an engineer was suddenly a better option than one of the areas where this student was actually demonstrating a skill. (As an aside, I actually remember a parent ringing me when their son had just dropped Business Management. “English, Music, Drama? Where’s the potential career in that?” Given that the father HAD signed the permission form for the change of subject, I don’t know what he wanted me to say. Anyway, every time I read an article or see the son on TV, I think that he seems to have worked out a better career path than if he’d done Accounting, Business Management and Maths. We’re not all the same!)

So how exposing these kids to another year or two of maths is expected to improve the numeracy skills of the nation is meant to work, I don’t know. The vast majority of students who are a competent at Maths continue with it. In my entire teaching career, I never heard any kid say that they wished they’d continued with their maths, but I heard plenty say that they didn’t know why they did.

As for the logistics…

How, when they already have a shortage of maths teachers, do they intend to staff the extra classes?

But I guess problems with numeracy isn’t just limited to the general population!

Let’s Save a Bucketload and Just Abolish Secondary Schools!

 

“We need only to think of many of Australia’s best and brightest, or indeed the great poets, artists, scientists and orators of the 20th century, to realise that a blackboard and chalk, a pen and paper, a few good books and some learned teachers sufficed. Indeed, in the case of my own parents – both baby boomers and both competent users of English and proficient mathematicians – the absence of open-plan learning, iPads and interactive whiteboards in their classrooms does not seem to have been too detrimental.”
The Age “Splashing cash won’t fix Australia’s broken education system”

A few weeks ago, “The Age” had an opinion piece from a young teacher who complained about ICT being a distraction. (My immediate thought was that it sounded like he was having trouble with classroom management and if his kids weren’t using computers, he may have been complaining about the paper planes that they were making. Of course, an article from a young teacher about kids being distracted by paper would never be published.)

Today it followed up with a similar piece from another person who’d been barely completed their full teacher registration, Johanna O’Farrell, , entitled, “Splashing Cash Won’t Fix Australia’s Broken Education System”.

I can’t help but wonder if there’s an agenda here, but it seems to me strange that you’d run two similar articles so close together. Why I call them similar is that both are from teachers with relatively little experience, advocating a rejection of technology. Both, it should be added, were short on anything apart from the anecdotal evidence of the particular teacher writing the article. In today’s article, although the description of her as an English and History teacher would suggest that she was in the secondary area, Johanna O’Farrell asserts various generalisations about primary school education without citing any actual examples or statistics.

A few weeks ago, I delivered a seminar to a group of English teachers on using ICT in the classroom. I began by telling them that if they thought using technology would excite the kids, forget it. For today’s generation, technology is just part of the way they live, and they should be encouraged to take a break from it in some classes. And by encouraged, I mean, make sure that they don’t use any, for anything. That said, I went on to point out, there are all sorts of things that help in the learning process, and lots of technology that doesn’t. There is, for example, an app on the iPad for spelling tests. Unlike a traditional spelling test, where you get a mark out ten and the teacher tells you to learn the words you don’t know, the app doesn’t let you move on until you actually spell the word correctly. To me, this works better in terms of learning. And you can still give them the traditional test later.

But, and this was the main point of my little introduction, technology is all around us. We use it every day. And to suggest that somehow we’ll be able to take it out of the classroom and go back to doing things as they were in my father’s day, is not only ridiculous, but it’s educationally unsound.

There is an argument for rote learning to occur at some stages in a child’s learning. I can cite articles and research that suggest that some rote learning is good, but the idea that somehow we need to stop “throwing money” at education, just get back to the basics and then everything would be all right overlooks the reality of what prevents many students from reaching their potential.

What are the basics? Well, most people will tell you that it’s enabling students to read and write properly (to some this means completely free of spelling mistakes), and being able to do basic arithmetic. (Of course, many things get added to what should be a “basic” education as soon as it’s discovered that some 16 year old at work doesn’t know them. “You don’t know who Edward VII married? That should be basic.”)

I have absolutely no problem with these things being taught, but it certainly won’t take thirteen years to learn them. Why and how some people fail to achieve a basic understanding in these areas will vary from student to student, but the idea that simply replacing the computer with a blackboard (actually a whiteboard, in most schools these days) will somehow fix the problem overlooks the fact that for a large number that’s what didn’t work in the first place. The “stand and deliver” method of teaching is much more prevalent than the media would have you believe.

The argument that we didn’t have that it once so it must be ok to do without it, would never be applied to other areas. Nobody writes articles that say my grandfather went to work in a horse and buggy so that should be enough for anyone, let’s abolish the car.

Perhaps though, I take most objection to the language. On page three of the same paper, it was suggested that Australia’s automobile industry won’t be saved by “throwing money” at it. “Splashing cash” at education.

These words suggest carelessness and a lack of thought. In the case of education, an enormous amount of work went into the Gonski Report. Submissions were taken from a wide range of people. It then made specific recommendations about where money should be targetted in order to make to facilitate improvements.

If you want to talk about what’s wrong with the education system, I can give you a long list based on a number years experience, and extensive reading. So why is “The Age” is publishing an article with the hook on the front page, “What’s wrong with education? A teacher tells” as though it’s from someone who has the answers. From someone who concludes:

“The problems are vast, systemic and pervasive – and I have not even mentioned the enormous challenges relating to discipline and poor student behaviour.

I have been teaching for only three years, but I believe the system is so broken that it cannot be fixed, at least not in my lifetime.”

There you have it. It’s all overwhelming. Let’s save our money. The system is broken. Nobody’s learning anything.

Except that you’ll probably find that there are many, many competent literate students out there. Students who’ve gone through the system and succeeded. We were all encouraged to feel the recent drop in rankings was the end of civilization, but it was rarely pointed out that, in fact, we were still higher than the vast majority of developed countries.

So, Johanna O’Farrell has written an article about how her generation are incapable of writing to express themselves. I hope she didn’t write it on computer! And she is arguing that there is nothing that can be done to improve education. If that’s the way she feels, if she doesn’t feel as though she’s can do anything with her students and that it’s all the fault of the system, I would suggest that for her to continue to work as a teacher is hypocritical.

The Abbott Form of Social Engineering

In recent weeks I have written on three subjects relating to what I shall loosely call “The Psychology of Politics.” The first was titled Hidden Persuaders, the second You’re Being Manipulated and the third Political Lies and Who Tells Them. This one deals with Social Engineering.

This week I posted on Facebook the following statement.

“I have seen many governments come and go in my lifetime. All incoming governments naturally implement their policies within the constraints that exist within the two Australian Houses of Parliament.

The Abbott Government, however, seems to have embarked on some form of social engineering.”

I was taken to task for this statement by one person in particular and I told him I was writing an extended piece this week. To put my piece in some sort of context I begin with some quotes.

In one of his most influential essays, (Milton) Friedman articulated contemporary capitalism’s core tactical nostrum, what I have come to understand as “the shock doctrine”. He observed that:

“Only a crisis – actual or PERCEIVED – produces real change”. . . A variation on Machiavelli’s advice that “injuries” should be inflicted “all at once” – Naomi Klein, “Shock Doctrine”

In other words, manufacture a sense of crisis and you can get away with anything starting with maximum harm. Therefore, the conservatives are manufacturing a non-existent debt crisis.

Margret Thatcher said this (paraphrased):

“There is no such thing as society. There are only individuals making their way. The poor shall be looked after by the drip down effect of the rich”.

Abraham Lincoln said this:

“Labor came before capital and is not related to it. Capital is what’s acquired from labour, and would never have come about if it were not for labour. Therefore, labour is superior to capital and deserves the higher significance.”

Franklin D. Roosevelt said this:

They who seek to establish systems of government based on the regimentation of all human beings by a handful of individual rulers . . . call this a new order. It is not new and it is not order.”

This is one of mine:

“The GST burdens the poor and those with the least capacity to pay. It discriminates against the poor and the pensioners who are living a hand-to-mouth existence and spending the bulk of their income on the necessities of life—food, clothing, rent, heating, power etc”.

Before addressing the issue of Social Engineering I should say exactly what I think a Government should be regardless of its ideology.

Good government is about making and implementing decisions that serve the common good. That give security to the people it governs. Follows the rule of law and is truthful about its intentions. When making decisions it must be responsive to the will of the people. It should allow its citizens to be participatory in the function of government. It should be inclusive, equitable and supportive of the people’s right to know. By equity I mean the people have a right to a fair reward for the fruits of their labour. And above all it should be answerable to the people.

What is ‘Social (political) Engineering?’

Social Engineering is when a political party seeks to use selective deceptive, manipulative and insidious psychological techniques to influence and bring about a change in the attitudes of masses of people to its point of view.

Now let’s get to the crux of the matter. You cannot possibly believe in democracy if you believe that your party is the only one who should win. Therefore, any party who wins an election is entitled to govern.

My problem with the Abbott Government is that it has embarked on a programme that is ideologically targeted at changing the way we think. This is social engineering.

Tony Abbott, for six years in Opposition created a negative image of our nation. He has never had a positive word to say about his country. He uses simplistic slogans to talk about complex problems and in doing so suggests he has answers when he doesn’t. He has spread negativity like rust throughout the community. This is because he sees a need to promote a sense of crisis, an Armageddon about everything. Everything is wrong and he is the only one who can fix it. There is a budget crisis when none exists. There is a debt crisis (while adding to it) when none exists. There is a crisis about the cost of living when Australians have never had it better. It’s a deliberate tactic of social engineering. Create an illusion of disaster and people will believe the perception is in fact a reality. And of course keep on doing it when you attain government.

Another form of social engineering is making the people feel threatened. Tell them that the poor souls seeking asylum are below humanity, demonise them so that the people hate them. Take away all their rights and appeal to the base instincts of ordinary people and the racists. Apply a code of conduct and treat them like animals. Even take away the basic human right of association. Tell the people the absurd lie that their borders are under threat. And keep repeating the same slogans in government. Perpetuate the lie that you have stopped the boats when in all probability it was the other party’s policies that were responsible. It’s called social engineering.

The conservative Abbott Government has taken away from middle and low income earners, the School bonus and a superannuation discount to low income earners, mainly women. In addition they have blocked a pay rise to low income Child Care Workers. The annual small lump sum to pensioners to pay for unexpected bills was also abolished. And when the commission of audit reports I should think the assault on the middle and lower income earners will be on in earnest. The abandonment of all these benefits in the name of austerity is a smoke screen. It is taking from one group to give to another. The Paid Parental Leave Scheme comes to mind. Also the 15% tax rebate for the highest wage earners. This is not equity, it is social engineering. If the budget truly demands cuts, they should be equitable.

When a Government seeks to backtrack on election promises like the Gonski reforms and reimpose its own elitist inequitable policy with not the slightest thought for those who can least afford a better education: it is practising social engineering.

When it deliberately downgrades a policy like the NDIS on the basis of unaffordability but at the same time gives tax breaks to the wealthy industrialists including the richest women in the world: it is applying social engineering.

This Government came to office saying they were adult and trustworthy. That there would be no surprises. Yet what we have seen is an attack on the less well-off. It is making it very clear that there are untouchable cohorts and there are those that will have to support the untouchables.

The refusal to pay a miserly pay increase to Child Care Workers was an attack on Unionism. Taking money from aged care workers by dumping the Workforce Compact which provided a $1.2 billion fund to give aged care workers a much-needed 1% pay rise is another example.

The very premeditated, deliberate government induced exodus of GMH is not just the expulsion of the car industry but also a government attempt to rid the country of unions. There will be no government assistance for companies with union shops. It’s called social engineering.

If there were just a few instances of stamping a Governments ideological philosophy on the community you would say, fair enough. But there is a have, have-not form of serfdom running through this government’s work. They came to government without any policies and are more intent on destroying Labor’s legacy than governing for the common good.

We now have a Prime Minister for undoing, not for doing.

It seems the Abbott Government is attempting to socially engineer the minds of people. Nowhere is this more evident than its willingness to downgrade education and in particular, science. Any pretext to the scientific understanding of environmental impacts has been thrown out the window to appease the sponge of capitalism. We have seen in the past few days the reversal of Australia’s ocean reserves. A policy hailed throughout the world. God only knows what they intend for the Murray Darling.

To belittle science in order to create doubt in the community is social engineering of the very worst kind. And to suggest that excellent learning should only be available to the well-off is yet another example of social engineering.

In the area of communications we have a concerted attempt to eliminate the reasoned voice of opposing views. The dual attack on the ABC by the Murdoch Empire is an attempt to stifle debate. When a government condemns a perceived bias of one outlet without acknowledging the bias of another it is practicing social engineering

And when it appoints a person like Tim Wilson from the right wing think tank, IPA to the position of Australian Human Rights Commissioner at $330,000 a year (an institution that he and the IPA advocate eliminating) they are saying loud and clear that they are intent on telling you how to think. It’s called social engineering.

On his appointment he tweets this.

“To those who have welcomed my appointment, I give thanks. To those that have not, I welcome the chance to defend your free speech.”

Lying of course is the Social Engineers most effective tool. Throughout his career Tony Abbott has used this tool most effectively. He admits it and the people accept it but its effectiveness is in its persistency and continuity. Abbott has reached a stage in his Social Engineering where he is convincing people that truth is what he convinces us to believe rather than truth based on fact.

Here is an example:

“Let’s be under no illusion. The carbon tax was socialism masquerading as environmentalism”.

The statement has no basis in fact.

Another tool of Social Engineering is secrecy and the Abbott Government has displayed a propensity for it. It’s called lying by omission.

We also see Social Engineering in policy and decision making. Here are a few:

  • The broken promise on the NBN will effectively mean that those who can afford it will become information rich and those who cannot will remain information poor.

  • Done deals with every state and territory government to gut and downgrade national environment laws by giving approval powers to state premiers further erodes the public’s capacity to disagree. It removes the community’s right to challenge decisions where the government has ignored expert advice. By removing funding to the Alcohol and Other Drugs Council of Australia it has taken away the participatory role of the people in government.

  • By challenging the ACT Marriage Equality laws in the High Court it has ensured the ongoing discrimination against same-sex couples despite the vast majority agreeing with the proposition. By moving to repeal protections in the Racial Discrimination Act it is flaunting public opinion. By scrapping the Advisory Panel on Positive Aging, established to help address the challenges we will face in coming years as the number of older Australians grows it has taken away the voice of the people. And in abolishing the Climate Commission it has sought to silence science.

All of these things contribute to how we think act and feel. By manipulating society into thinking that the entire realm and ownership of knowledge is found in one ideology, one individual or cohort of individuals is a form of Social Engineering.

Collectively I believe these four pieces make a solid case that Abbott in Opposition and in Government is embarking on a course of Social Engineering. A course of inequality, of privilege and serfdom. Of manipulating society into believing that if the rich become richer their lot will advance at the same rate.

I remember Peter Costello being asked at the end of his tenure as Treasurer about the widening gap between the haves and the have-nots. His answer was to say “but at least the poor have not become poorer.”

I will leave you to ponder that.

PS: And I didn’t even mention the malevolent treatment of women. Yet another example of Social Engineering.

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Your guide to becoming Andrew Bolt!

Andrew Bolt (image from theage.com.au)

Andrew Bolt (image from theage.com.au)

First, you need to be very, very sure that you’re right. Not right-wing, mind you. Just right. About everything. You know this because, well, you’re always right aren’t you?

The best way to show people that you’re right is to point out that how wrong others are. You can attack them for being nasty and mean-natured and show examples where they have attacked Tony Abbott or John Howard. This just shows how pusillanamous they are. (Throw in a word like that to show your reader that you’re smarter than they are). You can also show how those feral losers support people like Bob Brown and Julia Gillard, who no-one should support because people organise demonstrations with things like “Ditch the Witch” signs. If anyone puts a comment on your blog, pointing out the contradiction here, delete it as offensive, as are all comments that disagree with you.

Similarly, if any other news outlet presents a view different from yours, attack them for their bias. Cite examples where they present a different perspective and use this as proof of their lack of balance.

Next, you actually quote those you are trying to make look ridiculous. But quote selectively. Don’t give the context, or the full quote. And never let them get away with irony or hyperbole, make sure that you reader knows that they meant exactly what they said.

For example, in his recent blog, Andrew Bolt wrote:

‘Every one of them knows what a supporter I have been of the Jewish community, not just in print, yet not one publicly protested when a Jewish QC told a Jewish judge in my case something far more foul than anything I had written – that my thinking resembled that of the Nazis who drew up the Nuremberg race laws. That obscene slur struck me as a legally sanctioned defamation’

Now, the way to quote this would be:

“After, for some reason feeling the need to point out that both his prosecutor and the judge were Jewish, Bolt wrote: ‘my thinking resembled that of the Nazis who drew up the Nuremberg race laws'”

He adds the following Postscript:

‘I have been warned that some people are taking offence at my mentioning the religion of the judge and the barristers for the complainants. One Jewish community leader has even had the hide to wonder in an email to me if I was suggesting a “Jewish conspiracy”.

It should be clear – and would be to those who know me – that the reference is made to suggest just how much an insult was meant by the Nazi reference and how explosive it was in the context of the case.’

After some selective editing, this, of course, becomes:

“Bolt went on to say, ‘I have been warned that some people are taking offence at my mentioning the religion of the judge and the barristers for the complainants…

It should be clear – and would be to those who know me – that the reference is made to suggest just how much an insult was meant’.”

However, it’s not enough to expect your readers to just accept that you’re right. You need to back it up with evidence. Numbers are always good. Just quote some statistics. They don’t need to demonstrate anything, but they look good. For example, you could say that since this morning there have been no boat arrivals, whereas on this date in 2009 thirty seven “asylum seekers” invaded Christmas Island. Call it a drop of 100% and use it as undeniable evidence that Abbott is not a mysognist.

You can also quote experts. An expert is – by definition – someone who agrees with you. If they’re in the majority, that’s proof enough that they’re right. After all, that’s how democracy works. Any contrary views are “radical” or “whacky”. But, if the expert is in the minority, that’s evidence that they’re thinking for themselves, and not going along with the mob. Even if they’ve only been published in an obscure newspaper in Lithuania, this is proof that that sensible views like this – which coincides with yours – can’t get widespread publication. (And if anyone points out that your column gets widespread publication and, therefore, so do these views, tell them that, typically, the Left is trying to distract from the main argument, or better yet, delete their comment as offensive.)

Emotive language is another useful tool.

People making extreme predictions on climate change are “alarmist”; anyone making less extreme predictions just shows that climate scientists are admitting that they were wrong.

Unions using money to further political interests is a “slush fund”; business groups, on the other hand, have a “war chest” or “fighting fund”.

Any government initiative or tax break is “socialism” or “social engineering” if it doesn’t go to an approved industry; on the other hand, tax breaks on diesel to primary industry encourages capitalism.

Climate scientists joined with the Gillard government to invent as excuse for a “toxic tax”; anyone suggesting collusion between businesses is “paranoid” or “delusional”.

Women can be “hysterical” or “shrill” if they argue against you; should anyone complain about this the “feminazis” and “politically correct” are stifling free speech.

Remember that your aim is not find solutions to complex problems. You already have all the answers – they’re obvious and don’t need to spelled out in any detail.

Your aim is to annoy as many people as you can without upsetting your supporters!

If you can do all this, then you, too, may be able to have a column read by thousands of people every day. So what if future generations read your predictions and laugh. You know, after some of the statements from people in the Abbott Government, anything you’ve written will seem minor by comparison.

The jails are full and starting a penal colony may not be the answer

Image from algemeiner.com

Image from algemeiner.com

“In response to growing demands on the state’s prison system, the Victorian Coalition Government will bring forward the expansion of Victoria’s newest prison, Premier Denis Napthine announced today.

Dr Napthine said the new medium security male prison, to be built at Ravenhall in Melbourne’s West, will now be expanded to accommodate 1,000 prisoners. The prison was initially announced as a 500 bed facility on a footprint for 1,000 beds.”

A few months ago, Victoria’s Premier, Dennis Nap-time announced plans for a new prison. The cost of building this was well over a half a billion dollars. That doesn’t take into account the $100,000 or so per year that it costs to keep them a person in jail. But I have a much better plan.

We can’t afford this sort of money, so we should let most of the prisoners go. Just keep the most violent and dangerous. Release the others. Don’t prosecute any new offenders unless they’re a risk to the community.

Forget this law and order policy. Many crimes are financial or drug related. If a person is caught doing a robbery, just give them $25,000 and tell them not to do it again. A repeat offender would get $50,000. After that, we start can send them to a course on financial management. And supply drugs to the addicts. It’s a much cheaper solution. And it should ensure we retain our triple A credit rating.

Now, I know that some people will think that this is ridiculous. If we need a new jail, we need a new jail and we just have to find the money somewhere. This is a necessity.

Strange though, that when hospitals need more beds, or schools need more classrooms, they have to wait until the economy’s in better shape. Strange that we can allow people to go without treatment rather than say that this too, is a priority. Strange that we can slash spending on TAFE, and other educational pathways without a thought as to how much that may cost the community in the long run.

And strange that a “Get tough on crime” policy is never examined in terms of what we’re choosing not to spend the money on. Or even in terms of how cost efficient it is.

No, it’s easier to get the public baying for blood because a sentence is too light. (Although I don’t remember much about the leniency of the judgement in Andrew Bolt or Derryn Hinch’s court cases.) It’s easier to think that if we just lock people away for a few years, then the community will be safer without stopping to think that we may actually be “safer” if we spent some of that money on upgrading the ambulance system.

For sure, some people need to go to jail. But, as absurd as my suggestion for simply giving people the money may be, how much could we have saved if we’d spent the money more effectively in the first place.

Humpty Dumpty was apparently right!

“We are going to keep the promise that we made, not the promise that some people thought we made or the promise that some people would like us to make, we are going to keep the promise that we actually made,” Mr Abbott told the Ten Network on Sunday.

1st December, 2013

‘When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.’

‘The question is,’ said Alice, ‘whether you can make words mean so many different things.

From Through The Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll

‘At the same time in the last election campaign, five days before polling day, Julia Gillard made the fateful declaration: “There will be no carbon tax under the government I lead”.

She said one thing before the election to win votes – and did the opposite after the election to stay in the Lodge.’

Abbott’s September 2nd, 2013 Address to the Press Club

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott says if the Coalition wins government, it will honour Labor’s funding commitments across the four years of the budget forward estimates.

Previously, he had promised only to guarantee any deals Labor struck for the first year.

Mr Abbott says the decision will help schools plan for the future.

“As far as school funding is concerned, Kevin Rudd and I are on a unity ticket,” Mr Abbott announced this morning.

“There is no difference between Kevin Rudd and myself when it comes to school funding.”

However, the Opposition says it will scrap elements of the plan that it says centralise power in Canberra.

Just yesterday, Opposition Education spokesman Christopher Pyne told ABC News 24 the Coalition would only honour the deal for one year.

“What we will do is give schools certainty for 2014 then undo the damage that the Government has done, by negotiation with the states and the territories [for a] new model for 2015,” he said.

ABC News August 2nd, 2013

So it’s clear then. Saying that there is no difference between Kevin Rudd and himself on this issue was the same as saying committing not to change the arrangements that Labor had in place. And as for honoring Labor’s funding commitments, well, they’re going to spend the same amount of money – just on different schools – but they amount of money committed is the same.

It’s sort of like karma. It all evens out in the end. And money doesn’t improve educational outcomes. Do kids learn better when teachers get a pay rise? No, so all that money spent paying teachers is just wasted. They should all do it for free.

The Gonski reforms would have just spent money repairing class rooms and giving kids access to the sort of facilities that private schools have and this would have been inequitable, because what’s a kid whose parents are poor need with an education?

This is difficult for some people to understand, because the Gonski Report was very complex – even the Education Minister thinks so. In fact it’s so complex that he hasn’t even been able to read it yet. Although, it is believed that privately he has admitted to seeing the big picture, but he didn’t like it, so he’s going to go scrap it, and rely on John Howard’s instinct the way the Government is doing on climate change.

Still Mr Pyne has been suffering some stress lately, due to a fire at his home where the library was burned to the ground. Both books were destroyed.

And, to make matters worse, he hadn’t even finished colouring one of them.

Old photo which shows that Abbott and Murdoch’s relationship goes way back.

ventriloquist doll

Photo: ventriloquist central

Letter to the Editor: “Morrie Hits Back”

LETTERS

Image by Keybridge Communications

Editor’s note:

Last week, with my permission John Lord published a letter from Morrie Moneyworthy. It is fair to say that it drew a number of derogatory remarks. Again in the interest of balance I thought we should give Morrie a right of reply.

A letter to the editor.

All those comments were just what I would have expected from the left wing latte sipping loonies of the proletariat. The chardonnay drinking Bolsheviks without any intelligence. All they could do was criticise a few grammamatical errors. Nothing better to do.

The thing is, you commies don’t understand the fundamentals of conservatism. The free market and capitalism. Conservatives (LNP) believe in personal responsibility, limited government, free markets, individual liberty and traditional values. We believe the role of government should be to provide people the freedom necessary to pursue their own goals unhindered by government regulations. Just before I go on. I read that piece by John Lord: “Why are the Right so Feral”. (https://theaimn.com/2013/05/21/why-are-theright-so-feral/).

Fair dinkum. He wouldn’t know shit from clay. I’d suggest he gets himself a manager. It’s obvious he’s been handing himself too long.

Surely it’s clear to everyone that we need to be free to pursue wealth. I mean I needed the freedom to accept my inheritance. The same with Gina. There will always be haves and have nots. Even Jesus said that. And Ronald Regan said. If we keep giving more money to the rich, everyone will have more money. It’s called tickle down economics. The poor will just have to wait a little longer to see it work.

Conservatives were born to control capitol. Labour comes after capital. Not everyone can be effluent. Had we had less regulation and let market forces have their way we wouldn’t have had a Global Financial Crisis. Now look at the mess Tony has to get the world out of

Oh and another thing.

I didn’t appreciate all the sarcastic remarks from that women Kaye Lee. I can only say that good manners is a basic tenant of conservatism. So she needn’t worry about what people think of her if she only knew how little they did.

Now where was I? Yes? There is no inequity in society. It’s just that some deserve more than others. We were born to rule. If we don’t have poor people who’s going to do the work.

That’s why I admire Christopher Pyne. It talks a lot of courage to change one’s mind and do what’s best for the country. The audacity to suggest that he told a lie before the election is ludicrous. I mean two many educated people can be dangerous for society. They might all want to be wealthy.

Well I don’t mind wealthy people so long as they aren’t as wealthy as me. If that makes sense.

It’s like my friend Wyatt Roy (I’ve always loved his name. It gives me the erps) said. ‘’Baby Boomers should stay in work longer. We are sick and tired of our generation propping them up’’

In Tony Abbott we have just what this country needs. An undoer. And there’s so much to undo that there will be little time left for doing anything else. That’s what conservatives value most. At this point in time we need an undoer, not a doer. That’s what Tony is.

And while it’s on my mind. I do hope Tony has the good sense to appoint a man as our next Governor General. I mean, fair dinkum, that sheila should resign now. Fancy supporting gay marriage and and a republic. Its bad enough being overrun by Asians and Muslims without giving in to poofters and Republicans. I truly don’t know what’s become of the Lucky Country.

He should appoint John Howard. He would make an excellent GG. Someone needs to saddle up against all these things. Just think, I mean really think about the contribution the Queen has made to our country. And I’m sure Charles will keep up the good work. When we see him.

I will finish with a few comments about the nasty things said with regard to my last letter.

I wont be writing again because I get the impression I am not welcome on this blog. I am at a loss to understand why because all I bring is wisdom and unbiased opinion.

carol sheridan

Surely that is not someone’s REAL thoughts???

I can only speak the truth Carol. There is no need to be so bloody cruel. I have feelings you know. Even if I am wealthy. I think you are so mean that if I paid you a compliment you would probably ask for a receipt.

Jessica

Hilarious! So terrifying that this is how some people actually think – and that they’re running the joint! ‘Morrie’ should post this as a note of support on some LNP Facebook pages and see how many likes and ‘hear, hear’s and ‘bravo, old chap’s he can get!

You’re disrespect is just revolting.

I think you’re that dumb that you must be three bricks short of a load or not the full two bobs worth. Either that or your three sanwhiches short of a picnic.


mludowyk

This has to be a joke – no-one can be that stupid and arrogant, unless they are members of the Liberal Party.

Well, whatever your name is. I could describe you as a pain in the neck but I have a much lower opinion of you.

There were over seventy comments regarding my letter on this blog last week. All of them in such poor taste that I feel I cannot avail myself to share my wisdom with you again. I can only hope and pray that someday the working classes will come to their senses and show their appreciation for the effluence we share.

Morrie Moneyworthy. Malvern.

A Liberal Defence

We’re Liberal – With The Truth!

Ok, it’s time for some balance on The AIMN. There have been far too many anti-Government posts and I’m taking it upon myself to defend the actions of Abbott and company.

Let’s start with the clear bias being showed by certain media outlets. The ABC have tried to embarrass the Government by revealing the Powerpoint that suggested that we had been spying on the Indonesian President. It was ABSOLUTELY wrong of them to publish this. Stories about what Australian Intelligence is doing should NEVER EVER be published. Reponsible media outlets have frequently surpressed stories that aren’t in anyone’s interest. How much have you read about the TPP, or the Leveson inquiry? As some have suggested, this borders on treason. The second point with this, of course, is the timing. Clearly, the ABC and The Guardian conspired together to wait until after the election. This story should have been published months ago when Labor was in power.

Of course, the media does have a set against the Liberals. As Andrew Bolt points out in his blog, there have been a number of articles in the Fairfax papers critical of members of the Abbott Government. Headlines like “Hockey blows $3b hole in budget” and “Barnaby Joyce says that rugby league expenses were official business” are clearly designed to create a negative impression on the reader. Nothing Barnaby says should be reported unless it’s first cleared by one of the adults.

(The ABC in particular keeps trotting out shows with ex-Labor ministers, and they even tried to make you see Julia Gillard in an affectionate light, with their program, “At Home With Julia” – a sit-com purporting to show Tim and Julia at home. But will they have something like “Hard Times With The Boys” – a sit-com supposedly showing what a ficticious Abbott is doing at the police training academy? I very much doubt it!)

We promised to stop you having to worry about boat arrivals being the front page of your newspaper every day. I don’t think anyone can accuse us of failing to deliver on that promise. But the media are upset because now they actually have to find other things to write about, but why should the Abbott Government get the blame for that?

Then there was the furore over Hockey’s request to raise the debt ceiling to a mere five hundred billion dollars. The way some of the media reported it, you’d think that debt was a problem in this country. Fortunately, many economists and other experts were quoted as saying that we don’t even need a debt ceiling. Unless, of course, Labor is in power, because they put things on the credit card and we have to pay it off, by borrowing more money, so they should have one, but a much lower one. We’ll only be using the increased borrowings to pay off the debts that Labor will be racking up over the next two or three years.

As for the recent attempts by the press gallery to suggest that the recent statements by Christopher Pyne on education were somehow a broken promise, I find it incredible just how stupid some of the media can be. What Pyne said before the election was that they had a “unity ticket” on Gonski and as we all know, just because you have a ticket, that doesn’t mean you have to go to the show. Some people might give their ticket to someone else. Or sell it. There is no compulsion for you to use your ticket and the Liberals can hardly be blamed if the media is too stupid to recognise that.

As for the statement: “you can vote Liberal or Labor and you’ll get exactly the same amount of funding for your school”, it’s easy to see that by “your school” what was meant was overall funding and not specifically your particular school. To try and argue that “your school” means “the school you send your kids to” is the sort of tricky word play that we’ve come to expect from Shorten and his mob, and really you shouldn’t be sucked in by it.

Finally, we have the inconsistency on complaints about foreign aid. First the bleeding hearts want us to help out other countries, then they complain when we give Sri Lanka a couple of boats to help save people from ending up in a place like Manus Island or Nauru. Not that there’s anything wrong with these detention centres. In fact, by the time we may even lease them out as holiday detentions once all the boats are stopped.

[polldaddy poll=7600353]

And Another Thought

Image from learntoprepare.com

Image from learntoprepare.com

AND ANOTHER THOUGHT
Every day on my Facebook page I post (usually in the form of a quotation) a “THOUGHT FOR TODAY” and more often than not I follow up with “AND ANOTHER THOUGHT” which is usually political. Here is an edited selection since the election. The reader should allow for a time context when reading them.

AND ANOTHER THOUGHT
“Has Australia ever elected a Prime Minister so ignorant of technology, and science, so oblivious of the needs of women and so out of touch with a modern pluralist society?”

AND ANOTHER THOUGHT
Yesterday I was having a discussion with a Facebook friend. He was obviously concerned about local businesses in his area. And rightly so where as I was speaking in a much broader context. The difficulty in any exchange is having people put aside what effects them personally in order to see a larger world view.

Let me put it this way. “When asked for a generalised opinion, retailer Harvey Norman can only ever give it as he views it through the prism of his cash registers”.

”Even if you can’t turn all boats back, you’ve got to be able to bluff that you can”.

AND ANOTHER THOUGHT

About Julie Bishop:

“We had to fight even for the right of dying cancer victims to get a speedy trial. I recall sitting in the WA Supreme Court in an interlocutory hearing for the test cases involving Wittenoom miners Mr Peter Heys and Mr Tim Barrow. CSR was represented by Ms Julie Bishop (then Julie Gillon). (She) was rhetorically asking the court why workers should be entitled to jump court queues just because they were dying”. (Australian Doctor Magazine, 2007).

Why would you then be surprised at a petty vindictive decision to sack Steve Bracks?

AND ANOTHER THOUGHT

Usually when we replace something with something else it’s because the latter is an improvement. However, we know from such imminent institutions such as the Grattan Institute and many other experts that meeting the 5% target of cutting greenhouse using direct action methods is highly improbably. So Tony Abbott really does need to come clean (pardon the pun) and tell the public the truth of his intentions. Does he intend faking some action and then dropping it altogether? Highly probable I think.

AND ANOTHER THOUGHT

Under the Government’s new NBN plan some suburbs and country towns will have a digital divide. Half of Ballarat, for example, has fibre to the home. How will the other half react when they find they will have to pay $5000 for the same service? And this will happen all over the country.

AND ANOTHER THOUGHT

I wonder if the Government has decided which countries will miss out on a share of the $4.5 billion cut to foreign aid. How will they react and how many fewer children will be vaccinated as a result?

AND ANOTHER THOUGHT

I wonder when Mr Abbott meets with the Indonesian’s whether in fact the “Turn back the boats” policy will actually be raised. And how will we go about buying their 750,000 boats? I assume we will use eBay, or maybe Scott Morrison will stand on the shore will a megaphone and a fistful of rupiah?

AND ANOTHER THOUGHT

Now that Mr Abbott is sworn in can he please tell us if he really intends to abolish the low-income superannuation contribution of 3.6 million of the country’s lowest paid workers? And do it retrospectively. Please note that 2.1 million of these people are WOMEN.

Remember that it is Mr Abbott is representing women in the cabinet.

AND ANOTHER THOUGHT

I’m a bit perplexed as to how Tony Abbott will reduce public service numbers by 12,000 without actually sacking anyone? Won’t public servants just stay in their jobs once the hireling freeze sets in? And what if a key infectious disease specialist leaves the Department of Health – will that person really not be replaced?

AND ANOTHER THOUGHT

We know that one of the leading causes of Indigenous disadvantage stems from incarceration, which is why both parties are committed to adding it into the Closing the Gap targets. But given that he has committed to cutting funding to Aboriginal legal aid, how will Abbott ensure that this doesn’t lead to more Indigenous people ending up in jail?

Mr Abbott is committed to cutting legal aid for Aboriginals yet one of the leading causes of Indigenous disadvantage is incarceration.

So, I ask again, how will he ensure that more indigenous people don’t end up in jail?

AND ANOTHER THOUGHT

Given the Prime Minister’s reluctance to answer questions on the deaths of a large number of people seeking asylum, it would be tempting for people on the left to be rightly disgusted. After all, for three years he has been treating this most serious problem in a deplorable and inhumane manner for political advantage. And of course he has said that only he could stop the boats and we would notice a difference from day one. Now the political boot is on the other foot and he isn’t handling it very well.

But none of that will change the simple fact that this is an extremely complex problem and politics should be taken out of it. It is time for common sense to prevail with a bi-partisan approach.

AND ANOTHER THOUGHT

It is rather odd that we have elected a new government but it is unable, or doesn’t want to tell us when the new Parliament will sit. I hope that fewer sitting days to conduct the nation’s business is not also part of Mr Abbott’s plan to govern on a need-to-know basis. Or perhaps it is just that they haven’t any legislation to present.

“It is one thing to in opposition insult ones neighbors and another to apologise for doing so in government”.

AND ANOTHER THOUGHT

Mr Abbott has decided to continue with the current system under which parliamentarians claim expenses. This means that the rorting will continue and the already abysmal view the public has of its politicians will be further eroded.

AND ANOTHER THOUGHT

Isn’t it interesting that Italy declared a national day of morning when hundreds of asylum seekers lost their lives seeking a better future?

The Italians demonstrated an enormous capacity for compassion and sorrow to those affected by this terrible tragedy.

Meanwhile in Australia former immigration minister was opining that “a sad story from an asylum seeker does not entitle them to seek sympathy or refuge in Australia”.

How sad it is that we are not the compassionate country that I was once so proud of?

AND ANOTHER THOUGHT

A first small step has been taken. The Labor Party has become the first political party in Australia’s history to give its members a say in the election of its leader. Further reforms have been promised and not to proceed with them would be political folly.

The outcome of this election may not have been to everyone’s liking, however, I would urge members of the Party to have patience. This first small step is but one of many that will have to be taken on the long road to party reform. One step at a time, hey.

“Substantial and worthwhile change comes with short term controversy but the pain is worth it for long term prosperity”.

AND ANOTHER THOUGHT

If all this secrecy and invisibility of Abbott and his ministers continues for three years it is highly likely that the electorate won’t remember their names. Perhaps that’s a good thing.

AND ANOTHER THOUGHT

How many trees have been lost in the NSW bush fires? How many more will be lost in future more frequent fires? How long will it take to regenerate? How many trees does the PM intend planting? How long will they take to grow? Is “Direct Action” up in smoke?

With apologies to those who have lost property. I happen to think anytime is a good time to talk about disaster prevention.

AND ANOTHER THOUGHT

What sort of practicing Christian Government Minister would insist that his department employees call people seeking asylum, ‘illegals’ in the full knowledge that he is deliberately demonising them in the public mind?

John 10: 10: I have come that they may have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.

AND ANOTHER THOUGHT

The inflation rate on Wednesday is tipped to come in at 1.8 per cent. An unbelievably low figure. The PM said the carbon tax would have an “almost unimaginable” effect on prices. “Almost undetectable” might have been a better description. So how does he explain the destruction of a price on carbon that is actually reducing emissions?

AND ANOTHER THOUGHT

Reading the following article will only confirm the fact that when matters of truth are being discussed Tony Abbott cannot be taken seriously. This feeble attempt at defending Don Randall is unfitting of the office of Prime Minister.

http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/very-important-discussions-tony-abbott-defends-don-randalls-cairns-trip-20131023-2w0aw.html#ixzz2iVtPlptl

I can only put it down to the fact that he wants to enhance his already abysmal reputation.

AND ANOTHER THOUGHT

The hypocrisy of the Abbott Government knows no bounds. Not so long back we had the Coalition rejecting Labor’s Malaysian Solution on the grounds of their human rights record. Remember the tears during the debate? Now Scott (the Christian) Morrison embraces them with open arms. So much for human rights.

AND ANOTHER THOUGHT

Let me get this straight. The Prime Minister is having a “Private Function” to entertain his most avid supporters in the right wing media. He is (as much as I disapprove of the invitation list) perfectly entitled to do so. That is so long as the PM foots the bill. Could someone please confirm that he is?

AND ANOTHER THOUGHT

For years now neo-conservatives around the world have been saying that the term “Climate Change” is but a ploy to replace socialism with environmentalism.

With this statement in Tasmania yesterday I believe that the Prime Minister confirmed what I have suspected all along. He does not believe in the science. He thinks its crap. The cat is out of the bag.

“Let’s be under no illusions the carbon tax was socialism masquerading as environmentalism”.

AND ANOTHER THOUGHT

Invoking inquires that are so obviously political sets a dangerous precedent. We have had eight inquiries thus far into Pink Batts that have revealed nothing that is already known. When finally the judges reveal the result of the Ashbygate appeal can we also have one into it?

AND ANOTHER THOUGHT

“How extraordinary it is that Australia’s largest circulation newspaper publisher chooses not to report the findings of 97% of the world’s climate scientists”. Guess who?

AND ANOTHER THOUGHT

I wonder if anyone can help me. I am suffering from an acute case of withdrawal symptoms. I have had over three years of Tony Abbott in my face and now he is nowhere to be seen. What medication should I take . . . I have it really bad?

AND ANOTHER THOUGHT

Government Ministers typically attend the final days of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change annual meetings. But neither Hunt nor minister Julie Bishop will be in Warsaw. This is entirely consistent with Abbott’s attitude to global warming. He reckons it’s a socialist plot. Australia deserves better. But what would you expect from the boys club?

AND ANOTHER THOUGHT

“Long term government secrecy it doomed to evaporate into long term lying”.

“Christopher Pyne on the Bolt Report this morning said that the Government was more intent on doing, rather than talking. Seems like he has exempted himself”.

AND ANOTHER THOUGHT

I have been posting my daily quotes and thoughts for a couple of years now. My intent has always been the singular purpose of provoking conversation and the exchange of ideas. If people disagree I either reject, accept, consider or reappraise my stance. So my sincere thanks to all who contribute to my enlightenment. And especially those who read me at the AIMN blog.

AND ANOTHER THOUGHT

It has become patently clear that the LNP has become infiltrated with Tea Party ideology. Menzies would turn in his grave.

AND ANOTHER THOUGHT

If the first day of parliament was an example of the adults being in charge then I am fortunate to have assisted my grandchildren with their homework last night. Much more maturity there.

AND ANOTHER THOUGHT

Does Australia have a First Lady and if we do how does she fulfill her role? Are we entitled to expect (if only by convention), that she should support the Prime Minister?

AND ANOTHER THOUGHT

What a remarkable comparison these two conservative leaders make. One an Englishman, David Cameron, who believes in human rights and is prepared to stand up for them. Who believes in the science of climate change and is prepared to act. And believes in marriage equality and has acted.

The other, an Australian, Tony Abbott (born in England), who seems to condone torture under certain circumstances. Who seems to think its okay to prevent people from escaping persecution. A man who is a climate denier and doesn’t believe people are sexually equal.

AND ANOTHER THOUGHT

For an Australian Prime Minister to say Australia is spying on a close neighbour to “help our friends and our allies, not to harm them.” Is one of the most gratuitous things I have heard?

AND ANOTHER THOUGHT

Why is it that conservatives (even those who support certain issues) use the old excuse about “this not being the time.” Take this from Kelly Dwyer for example:

“I believe that we’re a mature democracy and that we can and should have an Australian head of state. However, I’m not sure that this is a number one priority issue right now.”

“There are a lot of issues on the to do list and I’m not sure this is up there in the top 10.”

They use the same excuse against marriage equality and other issues. Always begs the question. When is the right time?

AND ANOTHER THOUGHT

Not content with ditching the annual payment to help pensioners pay for unexpected bills, the Federal Government now plans to dice the pay rise allocated to improve the wages of child care workers.

“A $300 million funding boost aimed at improving the wages of 30,000 childcare workers looks increasingly likely to be axed as the federal government continues to sit on the Labor-approved initiative”.

AND ANOTHER THOUGHT

The poll results in today’s Fairfax press confirm my view that the people wanted to change government without giving much thought to the consequences. Also that Tony Abbott will never be a popular leader. His character (or lack of it) does not translate into likability.

It’s the environment, stupid

climate-change-economy-aurich-lawson-ars-technica

In the aftermath of the 2013 Australian election, I spoke to a variety of my friends and colleagues about the core issues that motivated my voting intention. Chief amongst these was the issue of climate change, and the various parties’ approach to Labor’s ETS or another alternative. I voted below the line and took into account several important areas of policy, to the extent it was known, but the primary consideration for me was climate change.

In many cases during my discussions, I was disheartened to hear that climate change just wasn’t top of mind for these people I valued. For them, other issues took priority: Australia’s budget, its productivity, its two-tiered economy. There were others for whom provision of healthcare, education, housing and social benefits were of higher import. And there were some for whom the key issue was the two parties’ policies on refugees and boat arrivals.

What people perhaps fail to fully understand is that climate change will fundamentally alter every aspect of life and governance in this country and around the world. It is already having adverse effects on health, on productivity, on national economies and on food production. And all the scientists tell us that we are on the cusp of a downward slope, that things will get far worse from here.

Already we can see some of the effects of climate change on the front pages of our daily news. In early 2013, a report was published indicating that the 2012-2013 Sydney summer was the hottest on record. That was before the current summer of bushfires began. When every summer becomes the “hottest ever”, we have to start wondering about where the trend will lead. 2013 has seen climatic extremes across the globe: from floods to blizzards, from droughts to heat waves, from tornadoes to wildfires, all of the linked events are record breaking or without precedent. But climate disasters, even when they directly affect people, are remote in comparison to daily pressures of life. They’re too big to easily comprehend as an immediate and pressing concern.

What seems needed is a connection between the oncoming threat of climate change and the pressing policy areas that do concern people. When the protest is made that money spent on carbon abatement could be better spent on hospitals, real information on the healthcare impacts of climate change is needed. When western Sydney voters are concerned about the tide of boat-borne refugees, a cold-eyed view of the millions of people who will be displaced from our asian neighbours (due more to loss of habitable land and food yields than to rising sea levels, although both are important) might help put the numbers in perspective.

There is one specific objection to prioritising climate change mitigation efforts and carbon abatement policy, and it’s a doozy. Under both Labor and the incoming Coalition government, Australia’s prosperity relies upon a continued efficiency in extracting mineral and fossil fuel wealth from our abundant reserves and selling them overseas. Under the newly elected Coalition, it is likely that this reliance on resource mining will increase, rather than decrease, as the government dismantles Labor’s perfunctory efforts at wealth transfer from the resources sector to high-tech industries and manufacturing. The Coalition’s rabid determination to vilify and destroy the “carbon tax” (more accurately described as an emissions trading scheme) is underpinned by this unspoken need to prop up Australia’s cash cow. Nothing can be allowed to interrupt the gravy train of that lovely, lovely brown coal. If they were to give an inch, to allow the ETS to continue, it wouldn’t be long until greenies were making cogent arguments about Australia’s net carbon export via its sale of coal to China and India. Failing a rational answer to such arguments, and unwilling to be the government under which Australia’s GNP collapsed, the best solution for the Coalition is to keep the fight focused on domestic use of energy.

On the wrong side of history

But the Coalition, as well as Labor and the whole of the nation, are caught up in the march of history. Cutting back on climate change priorities is a false economy. It will hurt us in the long run – not just environmentally, but financially.

Wind-generated power is currently cheaper than coal, and solar is not far behind. A little extra investment and solar power could take care of all Australia’s energy needs. Australia has, or had, some world-leading researchers and companies in the field of renewable energy, and it has wide-open spaces with very few people and plenty of sun and wind. Australia is a prime potential for development of economically viable renewable energy, removing our own need for fossil fuels, but also giving us high-tech energy generation to sell to other countries. Doing so would be costly. But the cost would be borne almost entirely by those energy companies already heavily invested in fossil fuels. Make no mistake: the average Australian would not suffer greatly from an immediate moratorium on coal mining. It is big companies, who hold long-term leases on prime coal-bearing land and whose net company worth is supported almost entirely on the coal still in the ground, which would be most affected. See Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math – I’ve linked to this article before but it deserves it.

Just because Australia has access to all this lovely, lovely coal doesn’t mean the rest of the world is standing still. As other nations implement carbon trading schemes, as new energy generation methods become available and economical, and as shale gas and other fossil fuels become increasingly exploited, the demand for coal and oil will decrease. Australia faces a growing risk of becoming the kid in the corner hawking his trading cards when the rest of the school has moved on to He-Man figures.

The long-term argument against coal goes along the following lines: the rapid emergence of shale gas, falling renewable energy costs, air pollution regulations, governance issues, action on climate change, changing social norms and worsening water constraints are putting pressure on coal’s competitiveness. – King Coal running out of luck

This may be partly why the Coalition is desperate to clear regulatory blockages to large-scale shale gas (fracking) projects in this country. The writing is on the wall for coal, and Australia will quickly lose its competitive advantage. Then we really will be the poor white trash of Asia.

What would it take?

For every objection to the prioritisation of climate policy (beyond the frankly unworthy “it’s not happening, not listening, nyah nyah nyah”), it is possible to make a case that climate change will have a dramatic deleterious impact.

Regardless, there remain those for whom climate change is not an immediate priority. The question must be asked, what would make it an immediate priority? Will it require the displacement of millions and a logarithmic increase in climate refugees reaching Australia? At what point does the loss of much of Australia’s food production capacity trigger our concern? We’re already facing annual floods/fires/heatwaves/climate events – how far does it have to go before we see the signs? Will the recognition of a “new normal” of climate events and weather spur us to action, or will it simply move us past action to despair? When the tides are swamping our cities and sucking at our toes, will we perhaps think that climate change may be worth our investment?

By the time these things come about, it will be far too late to change them. It may already be too late. Immediate, desperate, strong action may yet provide us a chance to partially mitigate the damage. But we need to make climate change a priority.

Unfortunately those who don’t want to spend money and opportunity now to combat a remote threat from the future are the same kinds of people who don’t want to invest now to build capacity for the future. They’re the economic rationalists, and they’re in charge of the funhouse.

Co-published on Random Pariah

Culture wars, Pyne’s education

Image from abc.net.au

Image from abc.net.au

Education in Australia, emulating principles established in Mother England has always been class-based, and at times deliberately advanced as a method of social control; to keep the lower classes in their place while providing confirmation of the status of those perceived to be “of better breeding”. The expectation was that young people of culture were to concentrate on refinements to prepare them for their privileged role in society, while the lower classes received preparation for a future in their assumed roles; to provide service and labour.

This was seen to be the proper order of things, and so it remained until the latter decades of the 20th Century. Children were streamed according to expectations, girls from poorer families sent to domestic and commercial courses, boys to practical skills and both sexes of middle and lower classes off to work age 16. All opportunities to do anything different resided with those from a more privileged background.

I am the daughter of a factory worker, Dad worked for Hardie Trading in Footscray as a belt maker. He started his working life with Hardie’s when he was 14 years old, and returned to his old job after serving during the war. My mum earned extra money doing “doctor’s books”. I spent most school holidays and most weekends helping my mother by adding up row after row of numbers and entering the amount at the bottom of the small yellow cards, these were the accounts for the doctors’ patients.

Year 10, I was allowed to go into the Professional/Commercial stream, the expectation being that although I was from a working-class background, that I might have the potential to rise to the position of a clerk/typist.

It was not just an expectation, but an obligation that children who were not from the upper classes should leave school, however, I was allowed to stay another two years.

It was never considered that I should ever attend university, so in spite of passing my Matriculation with honours and receiving entrance into the Melbourne University, I did not go. Achieving Year 12 was the extent that my parents could afford.

This is how it was, there were few expectations that anyone from the working classes, would ever do anything differently. Wars change things. The Vietnam War produced the Youth Culture, Gough Whitlam lowered the voting age to 18yrs. Young people of this time saw that they could achieve just as well as any other; that class, gender and supposed expectations were barriers, but not impossible ones.

I base this push for change on the event of the Vietnam War, but I believe that the ideal of equality and fairness has been a part of the Australian spirit for a long time. We like to see ourselves as a country that promotes tolerance, acceptance and equal opportunity, and also that to get ahead in this country, it means an education.

Given this background, our Minister for Education is now Christopher Pyne and he needs to be quoted:

“The federal government isn’t responsible for school outcomes, as he (Pyne) attacked Labor’s vow to lift the nation’s schools to a world top five standard.”, so said the then Opposition Education spokesman Christopher Pyne in September last year.

As Christopher Pyne has already decided that he has no responsibility regarding the issue of school outcomes, then it seems that the obvious solution is to cancel the portfolio of Education. Think of all the money that Tony Abbott will save.

Below is worthy of a topic unto itself, the complete and utter neglect of our Aboriginal history. When people challenge me on this opinion, I ask name 5 Native American tribes, now name 3 Australian peoples. Our knowledge of our own people is abysmal, there is no other descriptor – yet with a white supremacy overtone, that the little we do know is “too much”.

History study is also under attack with Christopher Pyne, federal Opposition Education Spokesperson wanting to reopen the history wars. In 2010 Pyne attacked Julia Gillard in her then role as Education Minister, alleging curriculum reform was being skewed to “a black armband view of Australian history”, in reference to the curriculum’s “over emphasis on indigenous culture”.

Once again worthy of a topic unto itself, are we a society based on Western civilisation? I somehow think that the Magna Carta, being a document which failed to achieve peace and ended up rebellion sometime around 1215AD (Anno Domini, in the year of our Lord), although worthy of mentioning is only that; worthy of a mention – from another culture and in another time.

The first draft of the history curriculum had not even included the Magna Carta. “We are a society based on Western civilisation . .”

Also, and an attitude which might be considered to be ignoring the rest of the globe;

Pyne claimed that school curriculums gives inadequate attention to Christianity, adding subjects taught on Asia and sustainability to his list.

Pyne also confirms that he prefers a very narrow view of Australia’s culture, one based on one-religion, one belief and in my opinion not valid since we became a nation accepting of others. It is also completely unacceptable that our Minister for Education considers that in a secular country that (any) religion should have any prominence whatsoever, other than in a historical context.

I would now like to quote from the Bradley Report:

A key point of the Bradley Review was to highlight the long-standing under-representation of working-class people at Australia’s universities. Working class people represent 25% of Australia’s general population; however, they represent only 15% of students in higher education.

Indeed, working-class Australians are three times less likely to attend university than other Australians.

In response to these inequities, the Australian Government set up the Higher Education Participation and Partnerships Program in 2010 and doubled the percentage of equity funding from 2% in 2010 to 4% in 2012.

These initiatives have three aims: (a) to increase the aspirations of working-class Australians to go to university; (b) to increase the percentage of working-class people at Australian universities from 15% to 20% by the year 2020; and (c) to support the academic success and retention of working-class students while they are at university.

This is worth highlighting – that as of last year, people from working-class backgrounds are three times less likely to attend university than those from upper-class backgrounds.

From Christopher Pyne, August 26th, 2012:

The Coalition has no plans to increase university fees or cap places, said the Shadow Minister for Education, Christopher Pyne today.

However now in power:

New Education Minister Christopher Pyne has also opened the door to reintroducing caps on university places, warning any loss of quality would ”poison” the sector’s international reputation.

Quote:

The former Labor government abolished caps on the number of Commonwealth-supported university places, helping an extra 190,000 students to access higher education. This move to a ”demand-driven system” sparked concerns from some quarters about quality suffering.

Let us think about this: Christopher Pyne’s announcement was that the Abbott government may once again cap university places, a reversal of creating tertiary places, which is essential to tackling unequal access to higher education.

Tony Abbott went to the election tackling the heartland, the core working class areas promoting the definitive that all inequities would be addressed – that boats would be turned around, that money would be saved; but there it ended. Did we sons and daughters of blue-collar workers vote for more chance or less chance?

With apologies to the author, who says it far better than myself but to whom I have no link:

Pyne’s announcement then marks the first real breach of the “Abbott compact”; the explicit and implicit deal he made with the Australian people to get elected. The deal was that they would chuck out Labor, if Abbott promised to leave their core social programs — and the progressive impetus behind them — in place.

Addendum: It seems that according to The Australian, our children don’t need to go to university at all which of course is mere self-justification by this newspaper on behalf of the Coalition.

The previous Labor government’s decision to uncap publicly funded places has undermined that principle and should be reversed. It gave a blank cheque to bloated university administrations whose prestige and remuneration depends far more on the size rather than quality of the student body.

Australia would, in fact, be more productive and prosperous if fewer people went to university.

Did we sons and daughters of blue-collar workers vote for more chance or less chance?

 

Fonnix rools – it is the onilly wae to teech studants to spel!

It’s a vision of the future – grounded in the past. New Education Minister Christopher Pyne invites us to imagine classrooms where teachers return to old-school instruction – becoming more a deliverer of facts, less a convener of activity-based learning.

 

He wants young readers to sound out words – and public school administrators to enjoy more of the freedoms of their private education counterparts…

 

And in an ominous sign for the government body that oversees curriculum development, Pyne warns the agency it is ”not the final arbiter on everything that is good in education” and he will take a much more hands-on role.

 

It’s a crusade that Pyne appears to relish.

 

”I don’t mind if the left want to have a fight with the Coalition about Australia’s history,” the minister says in his new Parliament House office, where he has on his wall a 1963 Liberal Party flyer denouncing Labor’s faceless men.

 

”People need to understand that the government has changed in Canberra, that we’re not simply administering the previous government’s policies and views.

The Age, 28th September, 2013

As part of a budget move, Treasury announced that they’d be using abacuses in all future calculations, citing their potential for reducing emissions, as well as the cost saving of replacing batteries.

In a further move, the Health Minister, Mr Peter Dudton has announced that he’ll also be taking a more “hands-on” role in health. This won’t actually involve him personally. but he’ll be encouraging the “laying of on of hands” as a first step by all medical practitioners.

A spokesman for Mr Dudton said that it was a method that had been successfully applied for thousands of years and was still being used in many parts of the world.

“It’s cheap and it’s easy, and if it doesn’t work we can always apply the leeches later.”

The spokesman explained that Mr Dudton was unable to make the announcement himself due to Mr Abbott’s ban on ministers speaking without prior approval, and also because no-one in his Department had actually ever seen him.

The Minister for Communications, Mr Malcolm Bullturner, announced that he favoured face to face communications and as such would not be taking calls or answering emails. When asked if this would make it difficult for people to contact him, he excused himself and shut the door.

minister for woman

The Minister assisting the Prime Minister for Woman (See above. Apparently misreported as “Women” in some newspapers – a further reason to exclusively teach “phonics” in schools) , Senator Cash issued a recipe book and announced that her department was working on some very helpful tips for keeping your man happy when he comes home from a hard day at work. “A touch-up on your makeup before he gets home can work wonders,” she said.

A press release on Research and Development announced that as the Government knew everything, there was little need for any R & D funding in the future. “If the Government were to ever find itself in a position where it was unsure, Mr Abbott has a hotline to Archbishop Pell, who has the advantage of infallibility on his side.” When it was put to the Prime Minister’s office that it was the Pope who was the one who was meant to be infallible, we were told that we clearly hadn’t talked to George Pell. The Minister for Science was non-existent for comment.

The Ministries for Ageing and Youth have been combined, therefore cancelling each other out, leaving a minister free to ensure the smooth transition to the tried and true practices of the past. while the Minister for Secrecy and Keeping News of The Front Page assured us that he didn’t exist.

Letter from Birmingham City Jail

On the top row of my library shelves is a book titled ‘’The World Treasury of Modern Religious Thought’’ It is a book that I re visit between making a decision of what to read next. It contains over 100 contributions. Essays from Karl Marx ‘’The Opium of the People’’ – Albert Schweitzer ‘’Reverence for Life’’ – the work oft quoted by Kevin Rudd ‘’Letters from Prison’’ by Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Mahatma Gandhi’s ‘’Autobiography’’ Other writers include, Solzhenitsyn, Schweitzer, Ralph Waldo Emerson and Nietzsche. None however is more earnestly satisfying than Martin Luther King’s “Letter from Birmingham City Jail”.

Martin -Luther King (image courtesy of blackpast.org)

Martin -Luther King (image courtesy of blackpast.org)

The world recently celebrated the 50th anniversary of Kings historically important ‘’I have a Dream’’ speech but this masterpiece of literature. This sublime piece of eloquent prose is apt to be overlooked. King wrote this letter in longhand after being arrested and placed in jail. His words convey all the force of a man unrelenting in his desire for a better place in a world full of racism and bigotry. But he does so with a powerful, but dignified calmness that is breathtaking.

I never tire of re reading this masterpiece of writing. It stirs me that men of his ilk have written words that command attention. When we read works like this, we should do so with the view to being radically changed. This letter did so for me.

I mentioned Kings work to one of my Facebook friends who is an avid reader of fine literature. His name is Daniel Carr and this is what he had to say.

John – I hope you’re well. Just wanted to say thank you for recommending Martin Luther King’s ‘Letter from Birmingham Jail’ to me. I somehow only got around to reading it this morning and have been reflecting on it all day. A beautiful piece of writing – and with such heart behind it!
The themes of just and unjust laws and the moral failure of telling a minority group ‘wait, in time’ were particularly resonant.
Anyhow – thanks again for passing it on, it’s always good to read something moving to keep our vigilance and fire up our spirits.

If you also want your spirits fired up here is the link.

http://www.uscrossier.org/pullias/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/king.pdf

I Hate You. So Shut Your Face.

hate

A recent article in The Australian newspaper asserted that Tony Abbott planned to roll back Labor’s laws that limit free speech. It said that if elected, he would work with his attorney-general, George Brandis, to champion, instead of restricting, the right of free speech in Australia. This would involve amending the Racial Discrimination Act, which prohibits remarks that offend others on grounds of race or ethnicity. This was the provision used to prosecute newspaper columnist Andrew Bolt.

Mr Abbott was reported as saying:

“Any suggestion you can have free speech as long as it doesn’t hurt people’s feelings is ridiculous. If we are going to be a robust democracy, if we are going to be a strong civil society, if we are going to maintain that great spirit of inquiry, which is the spark that has made our civilisation so strong, then we’ve got to allow people to say things that are unsayable in polite company’’

So does decency matter?

On the surface, these words may be acceptable to those of a conservative bent, but to people such as myself who like to scratch the surface, they are but a disguise. A permission or dispensation to insult, or assault another’s emotions or even worse.

It is positively unlawful to assault someone physically but perfectly fine to assault them emotionally.

The words of Mr Abbott reminded me of the now famous decision by the US Supreme Court in the Westboro Baptist Church vs. Albert Snyder. Mr Snyder’s son was a marine who died in Iraq. The Church pickets the funerals of servicemen, brandishing the most outrageous signs imaginable and shouting the putrid wrath of God at the families with all the vengeance they can muster.

The court effectively said that it was their duty to protect free speech even if it offended the grieving parents of American heroes. Even if it drove people to the brink of suicide or further. That people should have the right to freedom of expression no matter how evil their intent.

That it didn’t matter how loathing or despising your language was, or what harm your actions caused. You had under the first amendment every right to act in that manner. It’s called free speech.

Now it cannot be overstated just how vile this church is. I call it ‘’The Church of Hate’’ and is very active in many areas of American society. They say the most abominable loathsome things imaginable but the court says its fine and it is there to uphold the church’s right to do so.

There is something wrong with a society that condones hate speech and it is what Tony Abbott and his ilk are wanting for Australia.

Mr Snyder’s response was thus:

“My first thought was, eight justices don’t have the common sense God gave a goat.” He added, “We found out today we can no longer bury our dead in this country with dignity.”

Only those who have been abused by it truly understand what free speech is.

I could rightly, I think, argue that it is impossible to understand the harm unrestrained free speech does to people until we have personally suffered from the abuse of it. I could also argue that we do not appreciate the value of free speech whilst we allow it to be exploited the way it is. I would even suggest that free speech is completely misunderstood.

If as a society our collective intention is the attainment of a better humanity. Then surely hand in glove with that must be our social intercourse. Using this precious gift of free speech to vilify others is not consistent with egalitarian pursuits and a fairer and sophisticated social order.

You can read the court finding in this article:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/03/02/westboro-baptist-church-w_n_830209.html

What it comes down to is what the Australian public wants. Free speech is one of the many gifts that democracy gives us and should be sacrosanct. However, at the same time, the right to use it should carry a heavy individual and collective responsibility. We need to enshrine a greater appreciation of it on our citizens together with an indebtedness of the individual’s entitlement to use it.

I mean by that, that along with the right to use it also comes a requirement on people to display decorum, moderation, fact, balance, reason, tolerance, civility and respect for the other point of view. Free speech does not mean it should be free from ethics. Like truth for example. Sadly, this seems to have been forgotten both here and in the United States.

Of course, the pedlars of verbal violence and dishonesty, the likes of Bolt, Jones, Hadley etc are the most vigorous defenders of free speech because it gives their vitriolic nonsense legitimacy. With the use of free speech, the bigots and hate-mongers seek to influence those in the community who are susceptible or like-minded.

And conservatives support their own particular concept of free speech because it caters for division untruth and above all keeps the proletariat in its place.

The original intent of free speech was to give a voice to the oppressed and to keep governments honest. In the United States, the first amendment is now used as a justification to incite racism, validate hatred and promote both religious and political bigotry.

In the Australian Constitution free speech is only implied. It is time we decided what exactly that means and in doing so, decide how it might shape the sort of society we want to be.

One where free speech is a force for needless destruction or one where it is used for the betterment of society.

Sure it can be vigorous and robust but let’s keep it respectful.