Reflections on one ex-student, but also on the issues of partisan politics and stereotyping

I posted on Facebook — which does remain useful despite the Wonder Chopper still going about randomly and inconsistently blocking things here in Oz — about an ex-student, Trevor Khan. I trust he won’t be embarrassed, as this has happened before.

As far back as 2007, in fact:

An old teacher always enjoys hearing of ex-students. A story in today’s Sydney Morning Herald has brought back a lot of memories. The story itself is hardly relevant, the only point being that it mentioned National Party NSW Legislative Council member Trevor Khan from Tamworth, a fact that will delight Jim Belshaw.

Trevor, along with my old friend Simon H, was in the class of 1975 at The Illawarra Grammar School in Wollongong. I taught him English, and I suspect Asian Studies, from 1971 to 1974. I was fascinated to read this in his maiden speech delivered in the NSW Parliament on 9 May 2007.

In that speech he said:

However, I feel in detailing my legal career it is only fair that I pay tribute to the many hardworking and talented teachers who saw me overcome early difficulties to eventually enter this profession. I was privileged to attend what was then a small private school, The Illawarra Grammar School in Wollongong. That school provided me with a quality education throughout the time of my schooling from 1962 until the completion of my Higher School Certificate in 1975—in fact, 11 November 1975 was the day of my final economics exam. There can be no doubt that it is the teachers in the early years of my education who are owed the greatest debt, for it was those teachers who identified a reading difficulty which was then simply described as dyslexia.

I well remember those times in the special reading classes. I well remember as a child my school friends speeding along in their reading exercises whilst I struggled with much simpler tasks. It was a difficult and embarrassing time. As I say, if it were not for those teachers who identified my difficulties I may well not have had the opportunity for the higher studies that I have had. But my gratitude to the teaching profession does not end there. As a result of my university years I became a firm believer in the values of the State public education system. This belief in the public education system arose for a number of reasons, but principally because of the significant contribution that a public education system plays in ensuring the homogeneity of our society.

Let me add also, for those who believe in the dreams of Menzies, that a quality education system is one of the great levellers in our community. A quality public education system can help lift those who are less fortunate from their poverty and disadvantage and give to them the chance to share in the wealth and opportunity of our community. My belief in the benefits of the public education system came to be tested when it was time for my children to attend school. Both my children first attended Tamworth Public School and then Oxley High School…

Then in June 2016 I began a post thus: “Trevor Khan on Facebook said something nice about my teaching the other day, but also how long ago that was! Yes, 40 years, give or take a few. Meanwhile Lost Wollongong has posted this really lovely photo of what Crown Street looked like back then…” Of course now I can top the pic that appeared after that with one actually showing me walking down Crown Street at the very time I was teaching Trevor’s class!

But to my latest FB post concerning Trevor Khan:

The FB Chopper is still alive and well. I tried to post about my ex-student Trevor Khan, citing a 2018 New Daily story:

“Nationals MP Trevor Khan has slammed the Anglican school he attended as a child for demanding the right to sack gay staff, in a moving open letter. The NSW MLC has revealed he was furious and then profoundly disappointed by a letter to all MPs penned by some of the nation’s most prestigious Anglican schools.”

I taught Trevor at that very school. I pointed out in my intro to the failed post that Trevor also supports assisted dying partially on the grounds of what happened with his own father. He was a Member of the NSW Parliamentary Working Group on Marriage Equality, and co-sponsored the Reproductive Health Care Reform Bill 2019. Hardly your stereotypical LNP person, is he?

He is Deputy President of the Legislative Council of New South Wales in the Parliament of New South Wales.

Reminds us that we need to hold on to our assumptions and stereotypes with a degree of caution — because we might discover that “our” side does not have a monopoly on humanity. Yes, I did ask him how he did it over a beer in Haymarket a few years ago. In some ways Trevor is one of the most progressive people in the NSW Parliament!

His FB has been very quiet lately. Hope all is well.

The pic is from 2019. The occasion: “NSW law now recognises the right of women, and all pregnant people, to make choices about their bodies and futures in consultation with their doctor, free from the fear of prosecution. Any person who is pregnant now has control over determining whether an abortion is right for them up to 22 weeks’ pregnancy in consultation with their doctor. Thereafter, two doctors will need to consider whether an abortion is appropriate….

“Despite widespread popular support, the debate in Parliament was protracted and gruelling. Proposed amendments came thick and fast, with some hand scrawled minutes before being tabled. Standard processes were set aside as the Legislative Council conducted its third longest debate in history, with 26 divisions and 102 amendments. At times it felt like the division bells would never stop ringing….”

Pic: (left to right): Trevor Khan MLC (Nationals), Edwina MacDonald (Legal Director, Human Rights Law Centre), Penny Sharpe MLC (Labor). Source: Community Legal Centres NSW.

I have been able above to give a link to the story Chopper blocked! And here is a 2015 bonus from our ABC.

“I’ve avoided from directly commenting on matters federal. I’ve respected the right of my federal colleagues to run their own race but I think on this issue it’s finally time to stand up and say something really has to be done.” – Trevor Khan

A local state coalition MP is calling for his Federal Coalition colleagues to be allowed a conscience vote on marriage equality.

NSW Nationals MLC, Trevor Khan has been involved at a state level in debate in support of a motion on marriage equality and separately supporting a same sex marriage bill.

Up till now he has avoided commenting on what is happening at a federal level, but says something really has to be done.

“It is not an issue that will go away for the Liberal Party or the National Party; a bill will inevitably go forward either during this parliament or the next,” says Mr Khan.

“This is a wave of change that will not be stopped, it is a question of when and I think really one of the things all politicians have to wrestle with at this stage is, do they really want this to be an election issue at the end of this term, and I think the answer to that is no, the time to deal with it is this year, the time to address it is in the Spring session of the parliament, have the vote and let’s move forward,” he says.

Mr Khan addressed the NSW Parliament in the days after the Ireland Marriage Equality Referendum.

“I think there are number of things you can draw from the Irish referendum, we all know Ireland to be a deeply conservative Catholic nation and the fact that people came together, had a quite civil conversation and voted strongly in favour of it, I think is indicative of what you certainly would expect to see in Australia,” he says.

“The church is not nearly as influential in Australia as it is in Ireland and yet people came to a considered view, a tolerant view of both sides,” says Mr Khan.

The Tamworth based MLC says the time to act is this year.

“It’s now time with the winter break coming on for people to go home and reflect, address the issue directly, deal firstly with the right of coalition members to have conscience vote and that having been done for there to be a bipartisan bill and for that bill to go forward to a vote,” he says.

That’s our Trevor! LNP and all….