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Tony’s job application

Tony Abbott is insisting he be given a title again. He has previously asked to be judged by his deeds so it would be timely to examine just what Abbott achieved when given the opportunity to lead the nation.

Conveniently, the Liberal Party have a website that provides us with a list of their achievements because, I admit, I was at a loss to think of any.

Abbott’s top two achievements are listed as scrapping the carbon and mining taxes. This stellar decision cost tens of billions in lost revenue and expenditure on Direct Action, led to an increase in emissions for the first time in a decade, the cutting of many payments to lower income households like the schoolkids bonus, and the freezing of the superannuation guarantee slashing the retirement savings of all workers.

Number three for Abbott was, of course, “Stopping the boats and stopping the deaths at sea”. The boats and deaths have not stopped – we just made them someone else’s problem. To stop them from coming to us, we incarcerated and tortured innocent people, set others adrift in life rafts, paid people smugglers to take them back, and left boat loads of Rohingya to die of thirst and starvation rather than let them land.

Abbott proudly states that he “committed to take an additional 12,000 refugees from the war torn Middle East.” One of his first acts was to slash the refugee intake by 6,250 a year. As of September 2, we had only resettled 2,000 of the promised 12,000 Syrian refugees.

This has nothing to do with encouraging people to come by legal means as shown by Scott Morrison’s November 2014 retrospective announcement that “Asylum seekers who registered with the United Nations in Indonesia after June this year will no longer be eligible for resettlement in Australia”.

Scott just doesn’t want to be bothered with refugees at all.

“These changes should reduce the movement of asylum seekers to Indonesia and encourage them to seek resettlement in or from countries of first asylum,” Mr Morrison said in a statement. “It is important that these places are not taken up by people seeking to exploit the program by shopping for resettlement through a transit country.”

See the logic? They can’t come here directly and they can’t come through a transit country. Gee it’s convenient not sharing a border isn’t it.

But hey, Abbott apparently “Established the New Colombo Plan”. Please ignore the fact that the Colombo plan has been operating since 1950.

Number four for Tony was “The conclusion of three free trade agreements with China, Japan and South Korea.”

According to the budget papers, the Korea FTA is expected to cost us $840 million in lost tariff revenue over 5 years to July 2019, the Japan FTA is estimated to lose us $2.16 billion in revenue and the China FTA, $4.15 billion.

They most definitely contributed to the demise of the car industry in Australia and have led to an influx of 457 visa workers in occupations where there are unemployed Australians.

They have put great pressure on some industries, the Australian paper and packaging industry for example – we imported the paper for our ballot papers from China – and the clothing and textile industry – we are paying China to make the dress uniforms for our defence personnel.

And we have the spectre of the ISDS clause which could see our government sued for health or environment laws that affect the profits of big companies.

Tony’s next achievement is listed as his $50 billion infrastructure investment. Except a great deal of it was the reannouncement of funding already allocated by Anthony Albanese and the spending never eventuated as Bernard Keane points out.

What happened within a matter of months was that public infrastructure investment collapsed to levels not seen since the Howard years. ABS data on engineering construction activity charts the collapse across last year. Despite a small recovery in the December [2014] quarter, the “Infrastructure Growth Package” presided over by the “infrastructure Prime Minister” has resulted in public sector infrastructure investment at levels below any point under Labor.

Tony became fixated on the East-West link declaring “there can be no turning back from this major project”. Just over a week later, Abbott insisted the coming Victorian election was “a referendum on the East West Link”. After Victorian Labor won that election, Abbott decided to ignore the “referendum” result and demanded that new Premier Daniel Andrews break his commitment not to proceed with the project.

The benefit:cost ratio of the East-West link was less than parity (0.84 or 0.45 depending which study you read), whereas the Melbourne Metro rail tunnels had a BCR of 1.2, the M80 Ring Road upgrade, a BCR of 2.2, the Monash Freeway upgrades, BCRs over 5. The East West Link has a far lower BCR than any project anywhere in Australia on IA’s “Threshold” or “Ready To Proceed” project lists.

Abbott also claims credit for “Ending five decades of indecision by approving a second airport for Sydney to be located at Badgerys Creek” and for “Providing environmental approvals to 176 projects valued at more than $1 trillion.” I don’t think approvals count for much at all until we see actual construction underway and revenue coming in.

Liberals love cutting taxes and Tony’s list mentions “Delivering the lowest small business tax rate in half a century” and “Scrapping Labor’s bank deposit tax, to protect the savings of hard-working Australians.”

The Gillard government tried to cut the corporate tax rate by 1 per cent, to 29 per cent, in 2011. The Coalition and the Greens combined to block it. And the bank deposit tax was never legislated so he is claiming credit for abolishing something that didn’t exist. The freezing of the SG has hurt the savings of hard-working Australians much more than a tax that never existed.

Tony reminds us he “Established the Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption”. Well of course he did. It’s a right of passage for every Liberal PM to have a Royal Commission into construction unions – shame they never look into the employers.

Royal Commission into the activities of the Australian Building Construction Employees’ and Builders Labourers’ Federation (1981–1982)

Royal Commission into the Building and Construction Industry (2001–2003)

Royal Commission into trade union governance and corruption (2014-2015)

As John Quiggan reported,

“In the months since the Commission reported, a string of the charges he recommended have been thrown out or withdrawn. In fact, six months later, there has only been one conviction, resulting in a suspended sentence. The only big fish to be caught since the establishment of Heydon’s star chamber has been the Commission’s own star witness, Kathy Jackson.

Tony devotes three points to his heightened national security and anti-terror laws which are becoming increasingly draconian despite the negligible threat posed by terrorism in this country. As Ben Eltham put it:

With little debate, and even less contestation, civil liberties and safeguards developed over hundreds of years are being whittled away, constrained, or removed altogether.

“Establishing the Medical Research Future Fund” is an ‘achievement’ I will never understand. I can understand that, if you are retiring, you may want to live on the interest from your capital, but I cannot understand why a government would sit on a stash of $20 billion rather than actually investing it in research. It makes no sense. Why issue bonds to pay for things when you have $4.5 billion sitting there doing basically nothing? Their own report says that “For every dollar invested in Australian research and development, an average of $2.17 in health benefits is returned.” That is a damn sight better return than the 3.5% they are currently getting sitting there hatching the money. They should be investing it and spending even more if it brings a 217% return.

And finally, there is Tony’s claim to be “Beginning the task of Budget repair.” His idea of budget repair has seen the debt blow out by hundreds of billions and the deficit growing to more than GFC levels.

I haven’t touched on the trashing of our international reputation, the crazy captain’s picks, the excruciating attempts at small talk for the cameras, and the lies.

If that list is considered the highlights of Abbott’s achievements, I can see no reason why he would merit consideration in any capacity other than, perhaps, his volunteer work (which I would feel a lot better about if he didn’t always contact the media to make sure they got some shots).

By comparison, I will leave you with an excerpt from a letter published by the Victorian Women’s Trust in July 2013.

Julia Gillard oversaw the introduction of a raft of impressive and far-reaching legislation, showing high-order negotiation skill, sharp intelligence and a great ability to command strategy and detail across complex issues.

Much of this legislation is nation-building, addressing our common future as Australians – the introduction of a carbon price, the roll out of a National Broadband Network, The Murray-Darling Basin Plan, a ground-breaking National Disability Insurance Scheme, a much more equitable model for funding primary and secondary education, a national paid parental leave scheme, and the establishment of the Royal Commission into Child Sexual Abuse. There were many more reforms. Achievements in foreign policy, including Prime Minister Gillard negotiating the basis for future high level discussions with China, were notable and more far-reaching than those of her recent predecessors.

On her watch as the nation’s Prime Minister, our growing economy has been the envy of the world – low unemployment, low interest rates, low inflation and triple-A credit ratings.

We salute former Prime Minister Julia Gillard for getting on with the business of governing for us, the people; for the skilful negotiation, resolve and the leadership required to maintain the confidence of the Lower House; for steering the government through a full term; for enabling close to 500 pieces of legislation to be passed; for introducing significant and visionary reforms that will deliver great benefit to the Australian people in the time to come; and for remaining strong and poised when everything bar the kitchen sink was thrown at her.

Tony who?

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43 comments

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  1. Wayne Turner

    Here’s a title for Tony: Dumbest Australian PM EVER.

  2. Jaquix

    Thanks Kaye for reminding us how awful Abbott’s “government” was. I hope you are compiling a list of Turnbull’s “achievements”, which will undoubtedly be as shallow or non existent as Abbotts. Now we have them “looking at ways of meeting their Paris targets.” Talk about dragging the chain. So much needing to be done, so little happening.

  3. George Swalwell

    It is always such a pleasure to read Kaye Lee demolishing the
    exaggerations, distortions and lies of those in the Coalition
    government – especially when the person under discussion
    is Tony Abbott.

  4. Ella

    Kaye as always aI look forward to what you write.
    As for TA’s achievements ,
    I would add getting an old lady to swear at the TV whenever he opened his big mouth, and remembering my grandchildren laughing at me saying “nanny he can’t hear you”.
    I still wish Julia Gillard had not left politics…..she was an inspiration.

  5. Terry2

    Tony’s application for a Cabinet appointment consists of : I’ll stamp my feet and hold my breath until I burst.

    Take a lead from John Key, New Zealand PM who has just announced that he will not be standing for another term – he’s done what he set out to do and is now moving on with his life : looking at you Tony !

  6. Kaye Lee

    It is often enlightening looking back to what people do and say in Opposition.

    “Business with an annual turnover of $2 million or more will be denied company tax relief because the Coalition and the Greens will join forces in the Senate later this year to block a key element of the government’s mining tax package.

    In a policy turnaround yesterday, the shadow treasurer, Joe Hockey, said the Coalition would oppose not just the mining tax but the company tax cuts that it has been budgeted to fund.

    This is a reversal on the position the Coalition adopted a year ago when it decided it would support the cuts associated with the mining tax because lower corporate tax was a core principle of the Liberal Party.

    The mining tax will fund a reduction in the company tax rate from 30 per cent to 29 per cent, which will apply to small business from July 1 and to big businesses – those with an annual turnover of more than $2 million – from July 1, 2013.

    The Greens support the small business tax cuts but have always opposed those for big business, which are worth $2.4 billion.”

    http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/coalition-greens-block-tax-cuts-for-big-business-20120313-1uyk9.html

    Their argument for opposition to the cut was that the mining tax wasn’t raising enough money to pay for it. How are they funding the much bigger cut they are proposing?

    Most economists agree that spending on education will produce a bigger economic growth dividend in the long term than cutting corporate tax.

    Australia spends 0.1% of GDP on pre-primary education, significantly less than the OECD average of 0.6%, with other countries such as Denmark, Spain and Chile spending 0.8%.

    There is a significant positive net return on tertiary education investment through higher income tax collections and lower health costs and welfare payments.

    And if we want to talk social cohesion, increasing profits for businesses isn’t working. They have had decades of trying that resulting in huge salaries and bonuses for CEOs and boom and bust markets for investors as workers go backwards and the disadvantaged sink further into poverrty. .Yet they still see spending on education as wasteful and wonder why our comparative ranking is going backwards – teachers just need to be better at what they do and stop teaching all that emotional lefty stuff.

  7. Jexpat

    Considering that Trump got over the line via his opposition to FTA’s as well as perceived support for manufacturing, that rather makes Abbott (despite superficial similarites) to be the anti-Trump.

    The problem of course is that Labor (with Penny Wong noisily out front) also supports this destructive agenda- right alongside privitisation, which they too promote especially when they control state government.

  8. Matters Not

    Leading Abbott’s application could be the statement. Under my government there were:

    “no cuts to education, no cuts to health, no change to pensions, no change to the GST and no cuts to the ABC or SBS”

    After all it’s a post truth world, and besides it’s how he will be remembered. (PS – I didn’t even have to ‘look it up’.) But for those who want to hear it again.

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-05-07/abbott-promises-no-cuts-to-education-health/5436224

  9. shane

    Thank you for reminding us, never ever, ever, but look who is banging on the door, barmy bernardi, barnaby plant a dope, rubber band hanson, im just so good morrison . There is no one any more,

  10. Kaye Lee

    “We’ll scrap the carbon tax, end the waste, stop the boats and build the infrastructure and the roads of the 21st century.” repeated over and over like a mimicking parrot, counting on his fingers to make sure he remembered his line.

    Tony is absolutely certain he is right….he just can’t tell you why in more than three words.

  11. Möbius Ecko

    To top off the demolishing of Abbott’s so called achievements I heard this morning the government is planning an emission trading scheme, to be called something else and with fiddling around the edges, but a trading scheme nonetheless. Then the cream on top, the government’s upcoming environment review is looking at setting a Carbon Remission Price on energy providers.

    I guess by calling it a “remission” instead of an “emission” they think they can get away with having it called a Carbon Tax.

    Then the cherry, Abbott’s Green Army is to be abolished saving $350m pa, part of that will be used to pay for the $100m Landcare promised in the deal with the Greens.

    Well done Greens, not only have you put less back into Landcare than was slashed, you have destroyed the only other major Federal scheme that was doing anything for the environment.

  12. Matters Not

    Yes they are proposing to put a price on carbon but only in specific areas of the economy. They are not gong to apply it to the economy as a whole which was Labor’s big mistake – apparently. Electricity received a special mention. As to how you put a tax on electricity without it affecting other parts of the economy was never explained. The again the question was never asked.

    Josh Frydenberg was out and about. Busy, busy – keeping his profile in the media. Perhaps he is lining up as a candidate to replace Brandis as AG? That’s where he wants to go.

  13. Graeme Henchel

    Why did Abbott get the Arse?

    Was it justice, was it Karma?
    Was it Murdoch, was it Palmer?
    Was it lying and conceit?
    Was it backbenchers fear of defeat?
    Was it Mathias and Joe’s cigars?
    Was it because we’ve stopped making cars?
    Was it climate change denial?
    Was it putting Julia on trial?
    Was it the daughter’s scholarship prize?
    Was it debt and deficit lies?
    Was it removing the Carbon Tax?
    Was it trying to give the RET the axe?
    Was it cutting Foreign aid?
    Was it being so retrograde?
    Was it the Minister for Women joke?
    Was it all the promises broke?
    Was it Brandis’s bigots rights?
    Was it prancing around in lycra tights?
    Was it cutting the SBS and the ABC?
    Was it costing more for university?
    Was it imposing a GP tax?
    Was it the disregard of facts?
    Was it the ridiculous Dames and Knights?
    Was it the threats and talk of fights?
    Was it Joe’s “lifters and leaners”?
    Was it cutting the pay of parliament’s cleaners?
    Was it punishing pensioners and the unemployed?
    Was it the total moral void?
    Was it the embarrassing G20 address?
    Was it the ongoing budget mess?
    Was it the book-launch travel rort?
    Was it knighting the Queen’s consort?
    Was it use of the sham inquiry stunt?
    Was it the weasel words of Hunt?
    Was it the 800 Million given to News?
    Was it longer unemployment queues?
    Was it a budget most unfair?
    Was it too much body hair?
    Was it nobbling the NBN?
    Was it lying again and again?
    Was it exploiting terrorist threats?
    Was it job applications of Eric Abetz?
    Was it the sex worker wink?
    Was it being too slow to think?
    Was it Joe’s “poor people don’t drive”
    Was it the polls taking a dive?
    Was it the surprises and constant excuses?
    Was it asylum seeker abuses?
    Was it the work of Peta and the IPA?
    Was it repeating slogans day after day?
    Was it the dog whistle of “Team Australia”?
    Was it the pungent smell of failure?
    Was it wimping Putin’s shirt front?
    Was it because Christopher Pyne is a pain?
    Was it Arthur’s memory at ICAC?
    Was it giving Mr Burns the sack?
    Was it ever declining polls?
    Was it funding Internet trolls?
    Was it Newman’s election loss?
    Was it the submarine double cross?
    Was it saying the “Adults are in charge”?
    Was it making the deficit more large?
    Was it the whole damn useless crew?
    Was it the ties of bogus blue?
    Was it the hubris and the swagger?
    Was it Malcolm and Julie’s dagger?
    Was it saying he would change?
    Was it becoming even more deranged?
    Was it eating an onion raw?
    Was it the data-retention law?
    Was it exploiting Dr Karl?
    Was it frequent smirking snarls?
    Was it the daughter’s low rent at Kirribilli?
    Was it “Fixer” Pyne being silly?
    Was it acting like a bar room yob?
    Was it offering Bjorn Lomborg a job?
    Was it saying “I suppose we must grieve”
    Was it the constant attempts to deceive?
    Was it ditching his gold plated PPL mess?
    Was it then making Labor’s PPL less?
    Was it saying the deficit is no longer trouble?
    Was it increasing your own deficit double?
    Was it a second budget based on deception?
    Was it threatening to call an early election?
    Was it trying to get Gillian Triggs out?
    Was it Dutton acting like a Brussel sprout?
    Was it “get a good job that pays good money”
    Was it laughing at things that just weren’t funny?
    Was it all the talk of double dipping?
    Was it cabinet leaks a constant dripping?
    Was it denying marriage equality?
    Was it Brandis reading poetry ?
    Was it paying people smugglers to turn around?
    Was it the dead cat bounce the polls have found?
    Was it saying how much he hated wind farms?
    Was it lying each day without any qualms?
    Was it Brandis controlling the Arts?
    Was it the emission of smelly brain farts?
    Was it the false outrage at QandA?
    Was it telling ministers to stay away?
    Was it Bishop’s ride in a chopper?
    Was it cos Abbott did nothing to stop her?
    Was it Shorten’s conference revival?
    Was it party room fears for their own survival?
    Was it because we never got the 550 bucks?
    Was it that increasing the GST sucks?
    Was it Dyson being a party pooper?
    Was it trying to nobble industry super?
    Was it wanting to bomb in Syria?
    Was it the Border Force hysteria?
    Was it saying that Nazis are better than ISIS?
    Was it trying to score from the refugee crisis?
    Was it jobs threatened with China free trade?
    Was it leaving 7:30 viewers dismayed?
    Was it rumours of a cabinet reshuffle?
    Was it the Dutton sick joke kerfuffle?
    Was it putting a creationist nutter in Canning?
    Was it jumping the shark more often than Fanning?
    Was it using a slogan six words long?
    Was it getting everything consistently wrong?
    Was it all the renewed challenge talking?
    Was it a minister saying he’s a dead man walking?
    Was it cos Turnbull and Morrison colluded?
    Was it because he was incompetent and deluded?

    Why did Abbott get the shove?
    The answer is, all of the above.

  14. Möbius Ecko

    That’s it Matters Not. They have been stung by the Paris Summit and the failure of DAP, so have come up with similar, but not the same as Labor’s environmental policies. Heaven forbid they ever take up something of Labor’s, especially after they’ve destroyed it.

    Of course through a compliant media they will spruik it as nowhere near the same as Labor and infinitely better, able to save the planet and maybe even the universe in one hit.

  15. jim

    And Mrabbits cuts to just about everything, and he’s ordering of another 50 very expensive JSF35s, Mrabbitts government will cost us dearly way into the future, and of course it’ll all be Labors fault for sure.
    the sad part is that he was fired from the top job as if he stayed the LNP would be wiped out altogether ,IMO.

  16. Miriam English

    Graeme, that is just delicious!

  17. kerri

    History will show that Gillard/Rudd made vast improvements to this country financially and socially.
    Abbott will go down in history as the worst PM in Australian history with Turnbull a close second and many centuries (if the planet lasts that long) will pass before either of them is beaten.

  18. OrchidJar

    Kerri, a big yes to your first sentence.

    Graeme, a big woooohoooo to your poem!
    🙂

  19. Matters Not

    Abbott will go down in history as the worst PM in Australian history with Turnbull a close second and many centuries (if the planet lasts that long) will pass before either of them is beaten.

    Don’t think so. Have you heard of Billy McMahon?

    Political journalist Laurie Oakes described McMahon as “devious, nasty, dishonest – he lied all the time and stole things” before describing an incident where McMahon attempted to steal a tape recorder from his radio station by claiming ownership of the device despite it having the radio station’s name engraved on it. He concludes with “totally unworthy individual and the fact that he was Prime Minister of this country was a disgrace”.

    Certainly Abbott was in McMahon’s tradition, but not in the same class. McMahon reigns supreme; with Abbott only getting an honourable mention in that race. Just sayin …

    Graeme Henchel, I think you’ve nailed him.

  20. Michael Taylor

    MN, I was just a lad at school when McMahon was PM and my interest in politics was light years away. But I half recall one of our teachers saying that his party deserted him due to his woefulness. You might (no doubt will) know more than me. Oh, the only other thing I remember is Nixon drooling all over Sonia.

  21. Matters Not

    Yes Michael Taylor, Billy was so bad (never won an election himself) that Members of his Cabinet distanced themselves during the election itself. Sonia provided perfect cover that enabled his elevation to the PM. Times were different back then.

    While Gough would have won anyway, Billy gave him an easy ride.

    Note the rankings. Not that I agree with all of those ratings, but with Billy they hit the spot.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Historical_rankings_of_Prime_Ministers_of_Australia

  22. Michael Taylor

    Howard’s high rating surprised me, MN.

  23. guest

    Abbott always looked like a failure with his compulsive-obsessive riding around on bike dressed in lycra and doing quick-change performances into tradies’ hard hats and safety vests.

    Then in Parliament House, as Opposition Leader he suspended Standing Orders umpteen times to shout at clouds like an angry white conservative.

    As Pm he looked and sounded out of his depth, with oft-repeated slogans and embarrassing faux-pas.

    Why am i even remembering this? But the man keeps hanging around.

    One matter of concern for me is education and the conservative attitude the Coalition has. Even worse is the attitude of The Australian newspaper propounded again with the release of PISA results, stirring the great and wonderful education expert Chris Michell into having more swipes. Now we can expect from the Murdoch press over the next however many months. If Mitchell and the Murdoch press were serious about education they would try to educate the populace in ways beyond mere conservative propaganda.

    The idea that teachers can teach like Socrates in the agora is ridiculous. Mitchell and his fellow writers ridicule the Gonski proposals as if the Gonski report is meaningless. Funding is not the only element in education; Mitchell talks of high quality teachers. But high quality has to be paid for. Besides, the Mitchell philosophy is not shy in urging parents to pay more by sending their children to private schools.

    Yet we are told Oz students are falling behind. Does that mean the shift to private schools is not working?

    Look at schools which are touted as superior and the places where they are: single specialist schools in Shanghai or Singapore; schools in Finland with highly qualified teachers allowed to develop their own curricula using guide-lines, as developed here in Oz but rejected by pundits such as Kevin Donnelly, who believes in Direct Instruction for everything.

    The real education “experts”, apparently are those who have not been in classroom for decades.

  24. Matters Not

    For those interested in the Adani Scam, Michael West provides the evidence. Here’s a sample:

    Ten reasons why this is a breathtakingly inane idea:

    1. Sheer white-elephantness: The project’s bankers have long fled the scene. Thermal coal is in structural decline. The economics don’t stack up.

    2. Tax: forget it. Adani has been raking in $150 million of earnings (EBITDA) a year from its coal-port but paid tax in only one year out of six, and very little at that.

    The proposed federal loan is likely to be routed through another structure though – Adani Rail and Infrastructure – owned by an entity in the tax haven of Singapore whose ultimate parent is a personal Adani family company in the Cayman Islands. Again, forget tax.

    3. Jobs: Adani’s own admitted jobs number for Carmichael is 1,464. If that same $1 billion of taxpayers’ subsidy was to finance a solar project it would create 9,000 construction jobs.

    4. Water concessions: coal mining is notoriously water intensive. Another subsidy flung Adani’s way is the recent water concession by the state government

    Yep we are the poor, dumb, white-trash of Asia – and doesn’t Adani know it.

    The Charge of the Lignite Brigade

  25. wam

    Wowowo Kaye, I am usually so depressed at your incisive causeries that only a mango can bring me to life. But today what a pleasure what delight and the absolute cherriest of cheery cherries from Graeme.
    May I pass on the taking of the piss poem???

  26. Howard Oglesby

    Mc Mahon was a knave and a fool but he did not inflict the damage that Abbott and now Turnbull have inflicted on us financially and socially.

  27. Matters Not

    Guest as a matter of record, it was the TIMSS (Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study) release which generated recent comments on the health or otherwise of ‘educational’ achievement. (Hilarious). PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) is due out tomorrow – December 6 but perhaps only in time for the evening news as it’s (released in GB I think). Probably, headlines in Australia December 7.The emphasis on PISA this time round will be on ‘reading literacy’.

    The idea that Australia will ever be in the top 5 nations (as foolishly promised by Gillard) should never be aspired to. It’s not a direction our ‘education’ should ever pursue or even contemplate. Many of the ‘city states’ you point to are in the Confucian educational tradition – the purpose of ‘education’ being the fitting into existing arrangements. Thus the emphasis on ‘rote learning’ – to the detriment of ‘thinking’ – would not and should not be the model we follow.

    Consider this quote:

    Instead, I found a story that has caught the attention of many readers (in Chinese) that provides the real reason behind Chinese students’ top performance.

    The story, entitled A Helpless Mother Complains about Extra Classes Online, Students Say They Have Become Stupid Before Graduation, follows a mother’s online posting complaining about how her child’s school’s excessive academic load has caused serious physical and psychological damages:

    Since my daughter began 7th grade (first year of middle school), she has had extra evening classes. At that time, the class ends at 18:50 and I accepted it. But ever since she entered 9th grade, the evening class has lengthened to 20:40. For the graduating class, the students have to take classes from 7:30 to 20:00 on Saturdays. There are also five weeks of classes during the winter and summer school vacation. All day long, the students don’t have any self-study time, or physical education classes….

    This kind of practice has seriously damaged students’ health. They have completely lost motivation and interest in studying. My child’s health gets worse day by day. So is her mental spirit….. This is not the end. After coming home after 10pm, she has to spend at least one hour on her homework. She has to get up at 5 a.m. She is still a child. May I ask how many adults can endure this kind of work?

    The posting has received lots of comments online praising the mother’s courage and adding more exposures of similar experiences.

    “I am exhausted and have become stupid, even before I graduate from middle school,” says one student. “You adults work from 9 to 5, but we have to work 18 hours a day,” says another student to the reporter.

    That’s the secret: When you spend all your time preparing for tests, and when students are selected based on their test-taking abilities, you get outstanding test scores.

    Yes you get ‘test scores’ but not education. If you speak to Asian ‘educators’ they bemoan their system as being anti-educational. But we never dig deep. Why go past a headline?

    http://voices.washingtonpost.com/answer-sheet/standardized-tests/how-shanghai-topped-pisa-ranki.html

  28. Kaye Lee

    Meanwhile our students are winning international design competitions (and others) all over the world. Creativity, initiative, collaboration, communication, teamwork – or we could all learn phonics and get 100% in a spelling test yet be completely unable to use any of the words in a sentence.

    It aggravates me when people with no experience in education start telling us how to make it all better. They would love us to go back to rote learning. sigh….

  29. Jexpat

    Kaye Lee:

    Perhaps more aggravating than that is bringing in failed models from the US -whose adherents know or have every reason to know have failed there, attempting to impose them here.

    This has unfotunately been a ‘bipartisan’ problem over the last decade or so.

  30. Matters Not

    Yes KL, the measurements we ‘rely’ on are so superficial. And so misleading

    The narrow focus on success at a limited curriculum has real world consequences, beyond the harm to children’s well-being. PISA, TIMSS and the like are not the only international testing programs, however.

    Since 1999 the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) has been used to make an annual assessment of entrepreneurial activities, aspirations and attitudes in over 50 countries. The drive and capacity to be innovative are behind the sort of international competitiveness so beloved of governments everywhere. Yet somehow performance on PISA has been conceptualised as a proxy or predictor for economic development and achievement.

    However, when we look at the economic performance of the Asian nations and cities now frequently cited as exemplars, it can be seen that their economy is often built upon emulation of ideas and products imported from elsewhere rather than home grown innovation.

    The above leads to the important question of whether we are using the wrong measures to judge and compare national performance. In Asia, the focus on tests leads to cramming and extreme test preparation. Such intensive information absorption can actually work against motivation for learning and result in dispirited and disappointed learners.

    This type of learning does not teach one how to learn, just what to learn. The question of the reasons for learning are not even considered, beyond the imperative of the test. This does not encourage creativity and innovation; just a narrow form of problem-solving to questions where we already know the answers.

    Comparisons between the 23 countries which participate in both PISA and GEM reveal there is a strong negative correlation between the two measures: high on PISA predicts low on GEM. Copying from “the best” may thus also mean learning to lose an innovative spirit – a lesson no-one would wish to learn.

    Got that strong negative correlation between the two measures – high on PISA predicts low on GEM. More here. Gillard got it wrong. She was ‘captured’ then as she is now. Simplistic nonsense.

    http://theconversation.com/our-asian-schooling-infatuation-the-problem-of-pisa-envy-9435

  31. Matters Not

    Yes Jexpat, we have imported failed models from the US. And yes it has been a ‘bipartisan’ problem over the last decade or so.

    The detail of that ‘settlement’ is known, but who is interested? Rudd was driving the (intellectual) education bus, Gillard was a mere passenger. Full of great sentiments but absolutely no understanding of the implications involved.

    Nevertheless she never shouted: Stop the bus I want to get off . She bought a ticket to nowhere, out of ignorance. Not that her lack of insight has held her back.

  32. Kaye Lee

    ” This type of learning does not teach one how to learn, just what to learn. The question of the reasons for learning are not even considered, beyond the imperative of the test. This does not encourage creativity and innovation; just a narrow form of problem-solving to questions where we already know the answers..”

    EXACTLY!!!

    Direct instruction kills curiosity. Endless comparative rankings kill potential. The greatest gift a teacher can give a child is a love of learning because it sets them up for life – or you can make it so stultifying, so soul-destroying, that they never feel the joy of discovery and just have reinforced that they are worthless because they can’t do logarithms.

    I used to tell my classes that if they were all as good as me at logarithms then, not only would I not look special, the world would be a very boring place. We are all good at different things and we all learn in different ways.

  33. Matters Not

    KL, always remember Teaching as a Subversive Activity which cited a teacher asking a group of 12 year olds.

    How many legs does a grasshopper have?

    The response from the proverbial ‘black kid’ in the front row is instructive re relevance to ‘needs’ etc.

    Shit I wish I had your problems.

  34. urbanwronski

    Lucid. Cogent. Compelling. Magisterial. Should be required reading for anyone seeking to comment on Abbott’s fatuous case to be in cabinet. Or the huge damage done by an LNP coalition under he and Peta Credlin’s disastrous duumvirate. Thank you, Kaye.

  35. Salstarat

    The insignificant toad, Abbott, is deserving of any or ALL of the following titles:

    The MASTER of Mysogyny;
    The LORD of ALL LIARS;
    The PRINCE of Puerile, Pathetic Policies;
    The DUKE of Dangerous Ideas;
    The PIED PIPER to gormless, misinformed morons;
    The cowardly CONSUL of Corruption;
    The HIGH PRIEST of Hypocrisy;
    The mumbling, stumbling KING of pompous self-delusion

    …. the nauseating, publicity seeking psychopath, Phony Grabbit, truly is a legend in his own tiny mind!

  36. BultacoMetralla

    Can’t he just rack off and leave us alone.

  37. guest

    Matters Not, thank you for your in-put to this topic.

    With regard to TIMSS and PISA (or even NAPLAN) I am not obsessed with any of them, but it seems to me Gonski has to be able to ascertain where the needs are – and it should remain internal data. What I hate is the way data is politicised in various ways, in blaming well-meaning politicians, for example, or in creating Leagues Tables (thank you, Murdoch) and in browbeating teachers, etc.

    The real problem is the inequity in school funding, where some schools have huge subsidies and at the same time have huge wealth. No doubt there are reasons given and such entitlements are hard to take away.

    What has astonished me is the ease with which some “companies” have supplied “education” (or none) to tertiary students and gained huge subsidies for little effort. There has been no need to have actual students, or where there are students, no need for success in the form of graduation from the course undertaken.

    Add to that the money handed out for Child Care (or even Aged Care) and the low wages paid (less than on a checkout?) and we might well ask Where does the profit go? Answer: To the “company”.

    Then we have rorting in financial advice, payment of superannuation contributions, taxation avoidance and almost every rort one might think of.

    Now we see that permission and talk of subsidies emerges about Adani and at the same time opposition to what appears a hopeless enterprise is oppressed and made illegal!

    Around me are people saying that there is something more than rotten in the state of Denmark. We are being ripped off by overseas commerce and various trade agreements and by home-grown thieves.

    Here in our own Parliament, a bill was passed only after 20 side agreements were made to pass the bill, which was the reason for the Double Dissolution. And the matter is tied up with a biased TURC which has achieved nothing (?) so far by way of charges laid. And whatever happened to Ashbygate?

    We are a nation being carried in a handbasket to hell.

  38. Matters Not

    guest you may be interested in today’s piece by Chris Bonner.

    In the political sphere this concession came from an unexpected quarter when the Coalition federal education minister agreed that some schools might be over-funded. Alas, the penny didn’t drop with the ALP, instead the ghostly chains just rattled yet again and it seems that everyone has ducked for cover – led by no less a person than the otherwise highly-regarded deputy and education shadow, Tanya Plibersek.

    So what is the ALP game plan here? Surely few in caucus would be comfortable with serial revelations about highly-funded schools. They shouldn’t be worried about offending the Catholic school lobby; there aren’t many Catholic schools in the high-fee school bracket. Indeed, it is possible Catholic school peak groups and the lower-fee Independent schools might quietly cheer any move to reign-in the level of public funding of these schools.

    At one level Tanya Plibersek is right in claiming that it seems like a diversion. The amount of public funding going to these schools isn’t as much – figures of between $3000 and $6000 per student are common. But even this level of public funding totals anything between one and two billion dollars each year, hardly (in Plibersek’s words) a “drop in the bucket”. Much more comes from parents and it is a big total spend – but their students do about the same as similar others in public schools. Should governments contribute to such an inefficient spend-up on advantaged students – when the benefits of investing in the strugglers are well known?

    … It would be nice to avoid, in Tanya Plibersek’s words, being sucked into school against school, system against system, state against state. Again: too late! When the Gonski review reported, we had a chance. But a weird combination of action and inaction by politicians has worsened our sorry state of affairs. The differences between the states in how they support schools are substantial. Our public-private school framework doesn’t work – and anyone can see the differences between schools, gaps that are undermining efforts to improve student achievement

    Seems to me that Tanya Plibersek is spectating. Not proactive at all. Very disappointing to date. More here.

    CHRIS BONNOR. Time for some ghost-busting in school funding by ALP.

  39. Jaq

    Fantastic poem Graham Henchel and I have posted it if that’s ok. People have short memories- especially those with dementia who voted for these morons. Great to have all his “Achievements” in a piece of prose! And Kaye, thank you.

  40. penny

    Well SURPRISE! Vote responsibly!

  41. penny shipton

    Julia Gillard was courageous, intelligent and compassionate I loved watching her in question time speaking directly to Abbott, he was so intimidated by her intelligence and confidence he couldn’t make eye contact, brilliant. One of Australia’s finest

  42. penny shipton

    I’d love to see poker face penny Wong in the chair she would smash them

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