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Tag Archives: National Curriculum Review

This is the dawning of the Age of Consultancy

Before the election the Coalition announced a series of inquiries, reviews and white papers that it would instigate if it were elected. They included:

  1. Commission of Audit
  2. Inquiry into the Financial Sector
  3. Review of Competition Policy
  4. Judicial Inquiry – Home Insulation Programme
  5. Review of the Department of Defence
  6. Coal Seam Gas Management and Wind Farms
  7. Inquiries into the National Broadband Network – The Coalition will conduct three inquiries as part of its “Plan for a Better NBN”.
  8. Inquiry into the Australian Tax Office

Productivity Commission Inquiries and Reviews

  1. Inquiry into Child Care Funding
  2. Review of Industrial Relations
  3. Review of the Automotive Industry

White Papers

The Coalition will produce White Papers on the following:

  1. Tax Reform
  2. Direct Action Plan
  3. Federal-State Relations
  4. Defence
  5. Development of Northern Australia
  6. Resources and Energy

Since the election, that list has grown.

Sussan Ley was up and running, commissioning a report from PriceWaterhouseCoopers into child care funding. Apparently she couldn’t wait for the results from the inquiry that the Productivity Commission was already conducting

Coincidentally, the North Sydney Forum, a campaign fundraising body for Joe Hockey whose $22,000 annual membership fee is rewarded with “VIP” meetings with Mr Hockey, was established in 2009, shortly after Joe became shadow treasurer, by Joseph Carrozzi, managing partner at professional services firm PriceWaterhouseCoopers.

Mr Carrozzi is also chairman of the Italian Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Australia and was a board member of the organisation when Nick Di Girolamo was its chairman.

Members of the forum include National Australia Bank as well as the influential Financial Services Council, whose chief executive is former NSW Liberal leader John Brogden.

The FSC’s members, including financial advice and funds management firms, stand to benefit from the changes to the Future of Financial Advice (FOFA) laws. The National Australia Bank would also benefit from the changes.

The chairman of the North Sydney Forum is John Hart, who is also the chief executive of Restaurant and Catering Australia – a hospitality industry lobby group whose members stand to benefit from a government-ordered Productivity Commission review of the Fair Work Act that is expected to examine the issue of penalty rates.

Mr Hart also sits on Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s Business Advisory Council.

The National Commission of Audit was officially announced by Treasurer Joe Hockey, and Finance Minister Senator Mathias Cormann, on October 22, 2013, to be led by Tony Shepherd, former Business Council of Australia president and chairman of Transfield Services.

Mr Shepherd’s appointment was seen as being particularly controversial because as head of the BCA he had been critical of the previous Labor government policies such as the National Disability Insurance Scheme and the Gonski schools funding reforms.

His appointment was also questioned because of his links to companies that had benefited from government contracts.

Mr Shepherd stepped down as chairman of Transfield Services upon his elevation to the Commission of Audit. Transfield, a construction and services firm, won a string of contracts in recent years worth hundreds of millions of dollars, including the contract for maintenance and support services at the Nauru detention centre.

The other commissioners are former senator and minister in the Howard government, Amanda Vanstone, and former senior public servants Peter Boxall, Tony Cole and Robert Fisher.

The coalition predicted in its midyear Budget update that the commission would spend about $1 million but figures show it cost taxpayers about $2.5 million to produce the audit. That’s a 150% budget blowout from the panel advising us how to “live within our means”.

It cost $1.9 million for expert staff drafted in from the departments of Finance, Treasury and the Prime Minister and Cabinet to work on the study.

The head of the commission’s secretariat, Peter Crone, was paid $157,000 to oversee the probe, while the commissioners were paid $85,000 each for their five months work.

Consultants Boston Consulting Group were paid $50,000.

And then there’s the NBN.

As the rollout of superfast broadband slows down across the country, consultants have been the biggest winners, pocketing millions of dollars from numerous reviews and cost-benefit analyses.

A Question on Notice tabled in Federal Parliament revealed the external consulting cost for the NBN was $10.1 million. The cost of implementing the recommendations was not included, the 2016 deadline has been abandoned, and the new agreement with Telstra is yet to be concluded.

Boston Consulting Group, KordaMentha and Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu received the biggest financial boon from the government-commissioned reviews.

Then there are the Royal Commissions.

The Government will provide $53.3 million over two years (including $5.3 million in capital funding) to conduct the Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption.

The cost of this measure will be offset by redirecting funding from the Employment, Industry and Infrastructure and Regional Development portfolios.

Even though there have been coronial enquiries, inquests, administrative investigations and a full government audit report into the Home Insulation Programme’s problems, Abbott found another $25 million for a Royal Commission.

We then have the Warburton led review into the Renewable Energy Target. The Climate Change Authority was legislated to conduct this review, which they will still do to “keep them occupied” according to Greg Hunt. To get the results he wanted, he chose to conduct his own review led by climate change sceptic Dick Warburton and representatives of fossil fuel producers and users.

A Senate Committee was told the total cost of the review was $587,329. That figure does not include the salaries of the staff on the secretariat or overheads such as IT and accommodation.

Mr Warburton received fees in the order of $73,000; Mr Fisher $39,900; Ms In’t Veld, $43,900; and Mr Zema, $29,700.

Clean energy representatives were shocked by the panel’s appointment as chief advisor and modeller of ACIL Allen, a consultancy seen as close to the fossil fuel industry, and whose highly contested research formed the basis of the coal industry’s attempts to dismantle the RET in 2012.

They refused to include in their modelling the benefits of renewable energy – including the health benefits, job benefits, and the network benefits – which the panel dismissed as “too hard to model” and little more than a “transfer of wealth”, presumably away from the coal generators and network providers.

ACIL Allen were paid $287,468 for their modelling

We also have seen Christopher Pyne’s National Curriculum Review which cost $283,157 to tell us we need less Indigenous focus and more Judeo-Christian, less creativity and more rote learning, and less about progressive reform and more about business.

Kevin Donnelly and Ken Wiltshire appointed 16 external experts to make contributions, including Barry Spurr, each of whom were paid $8250 for their reports.

This government’s intentions are clear. They have bypassed government departments and statuatory bodies, ignored expert advice and the results of previous reviews, to pay hundreds of millions to consultants, vested interests, and party hacks to produce the results that endorse their stated policies or that damage the previous government.

This is indeed the Age of Consultancy.

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Rewriting history.

 

Breaking news: In an exclusive report in the Daily Telegraph, the Coalition review into education is complete and Christopher was right. We need to go back to basics, use phonics, and rewrite history.

“History should be revised in order to properly recognise the impact and significance of Australia’s Judaeo-Christian heritage.”

Firstly, how did the Telegraph get hold of a report that has not yet been released? Could it be because the men who produced it both publish articles in Murdoch papers? Always wise to keep in the good books should the consultancy work dry up.

Secondly, how did two men finish a report into the National Curriculum in a few months when it took the experts years and tens of thousands of submissions?

Thirdly, how much did it cost to get them to write up what Christopher Pyne said would be the result before the review started?

And finally, do these guys actually understand what Judeo-Christian means?

In January, Christopher Pyne promised “balance” and “objectivity” when he launched a two-man review of the Australian national curriculum. He appointed business academic Ken Wiltshire and education consultant Kevin Donnelly as reviewers.

Immediately after the announcement, a startling element of religiosity entered the discussion. Donnelly, who runs a one man Education Standards Institute committed to “Christian beliefs and values” which is owned by the K Donnelly Family Trust, announced in an ABC TV interview that government schools needed more emphasis on religion and more recognition of Australia’s “Judeo-Christian tradition”

He was chief of staff for Kevin Andrews when he was shadow education minister and in the 1990s worked for tobacco company Philip Morris on developing an educational program for school children.

Writing in the Punch in 2010, he warned about the impact of voting Green in the Victorian state election.

“Government and other faith-based schools will also be made to teach a curriculum that positively discriminates in favour of gays, lesbians, transgender and intersex persons,” he said.

In 2011, Donnelly argued that Christians and Muslims do not accept the same values and beliefs, and expressed concerns about a booklet written by academics to help Australian teachers include Muslim perspectives in the classroom. He was upset that the book did not convey:

“…what some see as the inherently violent nature of the Koran, where devout Muslims are called on to carry out Jihad and to convert non-believers, and the destructive nature of what is termed dhimmis – where non-believers are forced to accept punitive taxation laws.”

He is a vocal critic of educational strategies designed to help students appreciate that there are multiple valid worldviews and perspectives.

“Add the fact that students must be taught ‘intercultural understanding’, with its focus on diversity and difference, and are told to value their own cultures and the cultures, languages and beliefs of others, and it’s clear that the underlying philosophy is cultural relativism,” he wrote in the Australian earlier this year.

So what do Donnelly and Pyne mean by our Judeo-Christian heritage?

Quite frankly I have no idea.

First used by early 20th century biblical scholars, as a theological term it is based on the supersessionist view that Christianity is regarded as a religion that has superseded its (outmoded and irrelevant) precursor, and consequently, a redundant Judaism is regarded, in condescending fashion, as a religious anachronism.

During the early1940s, the term Judeo-Christian was used in America to show solidarity with Europe’s persecuted Jews, and was recycled after 1945 by Christian apologists anxious to convince surviving Jewish communities that the Holocaust was a ghastly cultural aberration.

Both scholar and major US Jewish theologian Arthur A Cohen, in his 1969 The Myth of the Judeo-Christian Tradition and US Rabbi and author Jacob Neusner in his 2001 Jews and Christians: The Myth of a Common Tradition have pointed out at great length that the idea of historic Judeo-Christian harmony ignores, amongst other matters, a 2000-year narrative of theological antipathy and a millennium long narrative of violent persecution of Jews in the name of Christianity.

Cohen comments as follows:

“I regard all attempts to define a Judeo-Christian tradition as essentially barren and meaningless … at the end point of the consensus when the good will is exhausted, and the rhetoric has billowed away, there remains an incontestable opposition.”

The term was revived by Reagan as part of the Cold War Christian rhetoric against the ‘godless’ Soviets.

In Australia, it rarely appears until 2001. Until September 11, it appears Australians didn’t give a fig about Judeo-Christian values. The political intent driving its use changed from one of inclusion to one of exclusion in the post-September 11 era, when it most often signified the perceived challenges of Islam and Muslims.

Monash academic Sue Collins finds that the “Judeo” element is merely tacked on for political expedience:

“The term has become a kind of shield for undeclared conservative interests which really want to privilege, and actually mean, the Christian tradition, but are conscious this would be politically counter-productive.”

Perhaps before they presume to rewrite our National History Curriculum, these gentlemen may want to do some research into the shaky foundations on which they want it based.

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