What a day this was: 13 February 2008

Of course much might be said about just how well/badly we have done since.

13 February 2008: just back from The Block in Redfern

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Redfern Community Centre, The Block, 2007. Image from Redfern Oral History. Click for more.

At least 1,000 people stood in the pouring rain at Redfern’s famous Block and watched on the big screen as Kevin Rudd moved the motion of Apology. I would not have missed it for quids!

Next to me an Aboriginal woman in her thirties or forties, her tears blending with the rain.

Cheers and a standing ovation greeted Kevin Rudd’s speech.

cafe-cana.gifWe didn’t get to hear the middle section of Dr Nelson’s speech as at that point the Lord Mayor of Sydney, Clover Moore, was speaking to us live.

However, the symbolism near the end of Rudd and Nelson jointly presenting to the Speaker the gift from the Stolen Generations spoke to all our hearts.

Golden syrup and damper afterwards, and then a coffee for me on the way home at Cafe Cana.

William Yang was there at the Community Centre, and some people from church.

Big smiles from some little Aboriginal kids as I crossed Pitt Street and Redfern Street: “Look! He’s got a flag!”

A day truly to be treasured, long long anticipated and for a period the dread that it would never happen. But it has happened.

No more analysis today, no more commentary. The day is too good for that.

See Cheers, tears as Rudd says ‘sorry’.

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UPDATES

See:

Speech gets standing ovation in Redfern

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s speech received a standing ovation at the Redfern Community Centre, where hundreds gathered. Residents, workers, families, students and Sydney’s Lord Mayor Clover Moore braved the rain to watch the speech via a large outdoor screen set up in the heart of the notorious Block, the setting of the 2003 Redfern riots.

After the speech a teary Ms Moore stood and addressed the crowd. “Parliament House in Canberra is a long way from the streets of Redfern, but the apology made this morning must resonate here in our hearts and minds,” she said.

David Page, 46, composer with the indigenous dance group Bangarra Dance Theatre, said he liked the fact that Mr Rudd made a personal apology.

“It was very moving to see a prime minister with a bit of heart. I loved it when he said he was sorry. There was just something personal about it. It’s very hard for a prime minister to be personal,” he said. “It’s a long road but it’s a great beginning.”

Enid Williams, 72, who was brought up on a mission in Warrabinda in north Queensland after her father was forcibly removed from his family, said she was happy with Mr Rudd’s speech, but said it was now important to look to the future.

“We’ve been put down so many times,” she said. “I’m 72. The main thing is the young people, to give them a better future.”

The reception was not so warm for the speech delivered by Opposition Leader Brendan Nelson, and the crowd booed at file footage of former prime minister John Howard that was broadcast before the apology.

Michael Kirby, 36, a resident of Waterloo who grew up in rural NSW and whose father had been removed from Swan Hill to be raised at the Kitchener Boys Home, said he was pleased with the turnout at the community centre.

“I was so proud to be walking down here today with non-indigenous Australians,” he said. “Now we have to move together to try and build Australia bigger and better as a whole.”

An entire day of activities has been planned at the community centre, including an afternoon smoking ceremony, repetitions of the speech and a barbecue.

Melanie Giuffre of Surry Hills said she and her husband, Remo, brought their children Lola, 13 and Roman, 9, to Redfern to mark a historic national event. “Roman was doing something at school but we thought it was important to be here as a family,” she said. “[The speech] was really wonderful. It felt we’ve seen the Prime Minister we voted for.”

Sydney Morning Herald multimedia report.

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Ivan Clarke, one of the stolen generations, is comforted by a friend after watching the apology by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd on a large screen in Redfern.
Photo: Jon Reid Sydney Morning Herald.

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In which I am made to feel very old…

So the Same Sex Marriage Survey is in its last fortnight, with as of yesterday 75% of eligible responses received. The feeling is that YES has won, but you never know…

I was chuffed to see iconic Aussie songman John Williamson (“Hey True Blue!”) on Channel Nine this morning saying absolutely sensible things as he talked about his latest release. See ‘My whole life has been about loving Australia’.

But it’s not all looking back: It’s All About Love is a jaunty call for marriage equality, sung as a duet with the out-and-proud country siren Beccy Cole. It’s not a new thing for Williamson, who has toured extensively with the unashamedly gay fiddle player Pixie Jenkins since the early 80s, but it’s refreshing to hear a country song dedicated to a time “…when it’s not important what sex you are, or what sex you have”, as Williamson explains. “Or what colour you are, or where you’re from. Wouldn’t that be nice?”

On Monday #QandA dedicated itself to the marriage survey. They had the wonderful Magda  Szubanski, the Anglican Archbishop of Sydney, the excellent Father Frank Brennan, and NO campaigner Karina Okotel, a vice president of both the Federal and Victorian divisions of the Liberal Party, a champion Chicken Littler.  Now as the show neared its end came this question:

This question is for Karina. In your speech at the National Press Club last month, you cited a case in the UK where an orthodox Jewish school was threatened with closure because it didn’t teach kids about tolerance and respect. I was teased at school for being “faggy”. They said I was a little too expressive with my hands. I spoke with a bit of a lisp, I liked fashion magazines. I got teased much, much more for looking gay than being Asian. Can’t you see that by not raising awareness in class about gay people in society perpetuates the feeling of isolation that children have, like I did, in coming to terms with their sexuality?…

KARINA OKOTEL
That material is taught to children as young as 11 or 12, from Year 7.

TONY JONES
Our questioner is shaking his head, so I’d just like to get back to him.

ANHTAI ANHTUAN
I think you’re taking the Safe Schools program, there are fringes of that program which were inappropriate, definitely, but at the heart of that program, was about teaching about tolerance and respect. That there are people that aren’t heterosexual but they’re normal people, but yet we lose sight of that and that’s the problem here. I think by saying No, you’re saying Yes to being treated differently for something I can’t change.

See my posts on the much maligned Safe Schools program, especially Show some backbone, PM.

Now I am such a Marxist, eh! Why only a couple of days ago on this blog I was commending Robert Service’s Comrades: A World History of Communism (2007) to my readers! A Marxist I really am not, but I do embrace diversity as a core aspect of the human condition and commend any society or program that does the same. Hence on Twitter I wrote yesterday: “I totally support #safeschools.” I also retweeted: “RT @JoshThomas87: .@TurnbullMalcolm You’re turning out to be a real shit bloke.” Among others.

First, a really really good idea is to read the actual stuff that Safe Schools offers.

And I remember Anhtai from my teaching days at SBHS. Proud to see him handle himself so well on #QandA, but at the same time it really makes me feel old. The world now belongs to these boys I knew as teens — to me such a short time ago!

And then earlier on Monday who should pop up on The Drum but another one: Jack Manning Bancroft. What an impressive human being he is!

Finally, there is much heat at the moment concerning the internet activist outfit GetUp! I really suspect that GetUp’s cardinal sin is that it is effective. See my post on the Class of 1995.

There is much of interest to me in today’s Sun-Herald, not least a wonderful cartoon by Cathy Wilcox – not yet online. Going back a bit I was drawn to the article The class of 1995: HSC high achievers 20 years on, having taught the Class of 1995 at Sydney Boys High. One member, Jeremy Heimans, features in the article.

Having received a TER of 99.95, he studied Arts Law and then Honours in government at the University of Sydney. After studying at Harvard he has spent the past 10 years working as a political activist and entrepreneur. In 2005 he founded Get-up in Australia. Today he is chief executive and co-founder of the New York-based company Purpose.com. In 2014, he delivered one of the year’s top TED talks, which attracted more than a million views, and today he is working on a book on the topic of “new power”.

Heimans describes himself as “an activist from the age of 12”.

“I had this funny childhood where at age 12 I sounded like a 40-year-old,” Heimans jokes. “In many ways I’m doing a lot of the work I did as a kid, but with better tools.

“I had to try on a bunch of different suits for size – I tried on a lot of different roles in my teens and mid-20s.”

“I benefited from a great public school education and I’m very grateful for that,” said Heimans, who remembers his final school years as a period of robust debates, challenging ideas and honing his debating skills.

Finally but irrelevantly I am posting for posterity this  oh-so-evocative image of Donald Trump. I gather he hates it. I think I can understand that! It is just TOO revealing!

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More from the world of the Postal Survey

First, just to make it plain, I do not believe that every opponent of same-sex marriage is a homophobe. Indeed there are examples of same-sex couples who will themselves choose NO in the current Postal Survey. Nor do I think that Israel Folau has no right to his views compared with David Pocock, to confine ourselves to Rugby players for the moment. Naturally, though, I do hope that there are many more David Pococks in the Postal Survey!

Second, I commend careful reading of Legal Eagle’s thoroughly thoughtful post.

But when it comes to the NO case as it now so often appears, I still cannot but see it as other than rampant Chicken Little. Or slippery slope-ism. That the question is essentially a simple one seems to get lost. See my previous post for more.

I particularly can’t get – though John Howard can – the argument on religious liberty. Legal Eagle helps.

It’s true to say (as some of my Yes vote advocate friends have said) that religious freedom and freedom of speech are different questions from the question that is being asked in the survey. Part of the problem stems from the fact that we don’t even know what we’re voting on – they won’t prepare a Bill until we vote on whether we want the law or not. But I think that any provision for same-sex marriage should make it clear that it will not force religious groups to conduct same-sex wedding ceremonies. Some of my religious friends are worried about what the position may become if a Yes vote stands, and cite the example of the Tasmanian pastor and preacher who have been the subject of complaints to the Anti-Discrimination Commissioner. They fear this is the beginning of a greater trend. They are concerned that the acceptance of same-sex marriage will mean anti-discrimination legislation can be used to make religious people suppress their views, and to have to conduct same-sex marriages against their will. And then, of course, there’s the services cases (involving flowers or cakes for same-sex marriages).

As an aside, I have never understood why a person would wish to force a reluctant florist or baker to provide for a same-sex wedding. If I were in that position, I would rather not give the service provider money, nor have them anywhere near my wedding. But this may be something to do with my private law background – as a general principle of law, courts are usually unwilling to specifically enforce contracts for services because of the coercive nature of such relief (see eg, JC Williamson Ltd v Lukey (1931) 45 CLR 282, 293 (Starke J), 297–98 (Dixon J); Byrne v Australian Airlines Ltd (1995) 185 CLR 410, 428 (Brennan CJ, Dawson and Toohey JJ)). The rationale for the rule with regard to contracts for services is that it’s inappropriate to force parties who don’t get along any more to work together. And I guess that’s a greater point. As my co-blogger Skepticlawyer has pointed out, you can’t use the law to force people to like you or accept you.

In today’s news we read Church cancels wedding because bride and groom supported gay marriage on Facebook.

Presbyterian ministers and churchgoers are under clear directions to oppose same-sex marriage. Mr Wilson, who is also moderator-general of the Presbyterian Church of Australia, published a blog post committing the church to the “no” case and calling on attendees to campaign actively.

“There are many powerful voices clamouring to tear down what God declares to be holy. The church must not be silent on this,” Mr Wilson wrote.

However, other church sources suggested the Ballarat experience was uncommon. Darren Middleton, convenor of the Church and Nation committee and a Geelong minister, said it was the first such case he had encountered.

“This is a decision for individual ministers to make. My guess is most probably would have let the wedding go ahead,” he told Fairfax Media. “It’s not normally a requirement to get married that you subscribe to particular views. I would want to talk to them about their views … but that wouldn’t be a bar to them getting married. That’s a separate issue in my mind.”…

On Facebook Trevor Khan MLC NSW (National Party) has commented:

So, let’s be clear:
1) This demonstrates that churches, now, have an absolute discretion (enshrined in the Marriage Act) as to who they chose to marry, and
2) Neither side has a mortgage on “crazy”.

My background, by the way, is Presbyterian.

And here is something else we can well do without.

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That is  former prime minister Kevin Rudd’s godson, bashed during an argument about same-sex marriage.

Now some personal notes. I am not TELLING people how to answer the survey. VOTE is apparently not the right word, by the way. But I am hoping that the majority do choose YES because, as I keep saying, it is the right thing to do. First there are all those same-sex couples I have known, not all of whom would have opted for marriage personally, though I suspect all would have supported the right of those who did so choose to have that option. Second there is my own relationship commencing in 1990 — yes, 27 years ago — with M. We did live together for over ten years, and still mean a great deal to one another. M was at my side at my mother’s funeral in 1996. One memory is of M sitting ensconced with my Aunt Beth at Kay and Roy’s place in Sutherland after that funeral. M’s own mother and younger sister have passed away this year.

Another highlight was the following year, when M, who is from Shanghai, gained his Australian citizenship. William Yang recorded it.

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Fast forward to 2012 here in Wollongong:

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Please! Ignore the Chicken Littles on “freedom of speech”, “freedom of religion”, and weirdness like the Revenant of Oz and her nonsense about not being able to call your Mum and Dad Mum and Dad! Choose a kinder Australia when you mark your survey form!

The My ***7 Decade series – and another shot at 2007

I have enjoyed the gallop back decade by decade to 1947. The effect on my blog has been clear too:

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That’s this morning’s stats, and that peak on 4 January is the best day ever on this blog! The details for January thus far:

  1. My 1947: Shellharbour 173 views to 11 January 2016
  2. My 1977: Alexandra Road, Glebe 10
  3. 2016 – surreal year goes at last 8
  4. My 1997: Elizabeth Street, Surry Hills 6
  5. My 2007: retired and blogging 6

The Shellharbour post owes most of that to Shellharbour History in Photos on Facebook.

Yesterday’s 2007 post left out a dominant event. Who can forget it?

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And then there’s this issue, surfacing again now thanks to Mr Potato Head:

That idiotic citizenship “test”

16 AUG 2007

My impatience with this particular piece of gross idiocy has been made plain here often enough. So has my enjoyment of the magazine The Big Issue. Both came together yesterday as I read the new Big Issue (the annual short story number) where I spotted in the “Hearsay” column the following from writer, director, actor, teacher and former Young Australian of the Year Khoa Do.

“In the world I grew up in, a lot of people and their parents struggled to speak English,” he said. “Now they are successful in a whole range of fields. My parents are always learning and always trying. Asking whether people who don’t speak fluent English can contribute to Australia is like asking whether a blind or deaf person can contribute. Of course they can.”

I sourced that to an article by Jonathan Pearlman in the Moruya/Bateman’s Bay News. (Good to see regional papers running such stories, though it was in turn sourced to the Sydney Morning Herald.)

…The Immigration and Citizenship Minister, Kevin Andrews, under pressure over the Haneef affair, has announced that future tests for migrants will place greater emphasis on integration, including factors such as an ability to speak English and a willingness to learn the language.

The rules could potentially have precluded vast segments of the population from immigrating, including prominent Australians such as the boxer Kostya Tszyu, the businessman Frank Lowy, the scientist Professor Sir Gustav Nossal – and Mr Andrews’s assistant minister for immigration and citizenship, Teresa Gambaro.

Ms Gambaro, whose parents were born in Italy and could not speak English when they arrived in north Queensland in the 1950s, yesterday voiced support for the Government’s plan.

“My family came with a very positive attitude and they did integrate and learn English,” Ms Gambaro, the MP for Petrie in Brisbane, told the Herald. “But we are talking about a different era. We needed manual workers back then. The need to speak English is different now … But I don’t think the intention is to preclude somebody based on one factor.”

Mr Andrews yesterday lauded the new immigration procedures and declared he would not “be scared off by people who don’t stand up for Australians”. “Look, I think the Australian people are quite clear about this,” he told Radio 2GB’s Ray Hadley. “They want us to be tough and they want us to make sure that Australia’s protected and they know that there are people in the world who have a different view.”

Mr Andrews said the procedures, to start early next year, would examine people’s willingness to integrate and were not an “English test”.

“We bring people now from all countries and all sorts of countries in the world,” he said. “Many of those countries don’t necessarily share our values … We’ve got to balance up bringing people from overseas but with an ability to actually be able to properly settle and integrate into the Australian society. I think that’s what Australians want.”

The pole vaulter Tatiana Grigorieva, who arrived from Russia in 1997 and won a silver medal at the 2000 Olympics, said she would not have passed an immigration test if English skills had been a factor.

“I would have struggled with any sort of test,” she said. “I think it depends how far you take it and how difficult the test is. I would probably have tried to learn English before I came. I am very glad I came to Australia. I will try to make this place a little bit better than before I came.”

Sir Gustav, who fled Vienna with his parents in 1939 and was Australian of the Year in 2000 for his work in immunology, also said he would have been barred if ability to speak English had been a factor. “I agree that people should learn English as fast as possible if they desire to stay here,” he said. “My parents had very little English when they arrived but were strongly committed to adapting and to learning the language. I have no reverence for people who want to ghettoise themselves.”

Kostya Tszyu, a Russian-born boxing champion who came here when he was 22, said immigrants should be encouraged to learn English but should not be barred based solely on language. “It took time to learn English. Sometimes now I even think in English. My parents came here in their 50s. It took them a bit longer and now they have no problem chatting to their neighbours. Now we live in the best country in the world.”

They want us to be tough and they want us to make sure that Australia’s protected and they know that there are people in the world who have a different view… Trouble is the Citizenship Test would achieve none of these aims. Any terrorist or mad bastard of any kind would have no trouble going through these particular hoops if he/she really wanted to, but in the meantime a far greater number of innocent bystanders would be disadvantaged by the fact, despite Kevin Andrews’ denial, that this is an English test, being in English. This stupid populism Ray Hadley may well have bought, along with many of his listeners, but I don’t. You don’t have to be a genius to realise how pointless the whole exercise is.

See also “Mum can be proud that she Singers well” by Khoa Do (4 August 2007).

…For the first decade of Mum’s life in Australia, that’s all she really knew. To put her children through school, to clothe and feed them, she worked in sewing factories – for many hours a day, sometimes seven days a week. It’s hard to learn English if you’re overlocking, stitching, cutting, labelling, hemming. Even if you have a set of learning tapes, as we had.

Throughout her life she has been trying to learn English with the Adult Migrant English Service. But she has had limited success. I remember the first time she went to learn English – she came back that afternoon and asked me to explain the meaning of an adverb. An adverb! Far out, how do you explain to your dear mother, who lived through the Vietnam War, fled the country by boat, raised three children on her own, spent a million hours of her life hunched over a Singer, what an adverb is? Especially when you were too busy talking about whether Spiderman would beat Superman, during the lesson on adverbs in year seven. Poor Mum, I failed in teaching her what an adverb was, and soon after she gave up on learning English.

… I think that for some people, learning English in the first few years of arriving in Australia is really tough. And as I begin thinking about the many people I know, I start to wonder whether their parents would have passed a test in English to become a citizen. Let’s see, there’s my doctor, Dr Tuan. No chance. His father and mother were from the countryside. I think about my friend, now a social worker. No chance. One of my close friends is a high school English teacher, the best in her school – and no, her parents wouldn’t have passed either. As I think about it, a lot of people I know have parents who would have struggled with a test in English. Ultimately, they would’ve failed in becoming Australian citizens and their children wouldn’t be here now.

You’re probably wondering what has happened to my mum and her English. Several years ago my wonderful brother got married, and he had two children. His wife is Suzie; she’s gorgeous and she’s Anglo-Australian. Their two boys, Luc and Xavier, mainly speak English at home. Mum wants to be able to speak to her grandchildren, so yes, she’s studying English again, in her 50s. Once again I find myself helping her out with her comprehension tests and grammar…

That our supposedly intelligent leaders (with some noble back-bench exceptions) have enthused over Anderson’s (originally Robb’s, for which read Howard’s) heap of steaming ordure is just typical, isn’t it? I think it shows just how far backwards we have come under the reign of the Great Grey Garden Gnome of Kirribilli House.

“Trust us! We are EXPERIENCED!”

Sure are… 😦

Government careers down path of superficial idiocy on citizenship test

27 AUG 2007

NOTE: Updated. I now give the resource book a qualified . Remarks below offer some qualifications, while others, especially about the TEST, still hold.

The singularly unimpressive Kevin Andrews was told how stupid this is over and over again. Go there and download whichever you choose; naturally I recommend (PDF) ATESOL’s contribution on behalf of ESL teachers — I can hardly improve on it. But The Garden Gnome wanted it and Andrews delivered and so the country is stuck with an English test that masquerades as something to do with benchmarks for attaining a successful Australian citizenship.

The Book of Knowledge (in English of course) does not appear to be available online yet*, so I have had to rely on the version presented today in the Sydney Morning Herald: I pledge allegiance to ? the Don. Nothing in there, it would appear, about the Eight Hour Movement or the Harvester Judgement, whose centenary occurs this year, but that is hardly surprising. Meanwhile not one person who represents any kind of threat to the Australian way of life will be deterred by this fatuous yet discriminatory exercise. But the government will seem to be doing something significant, and that is all that matters perhaps.

The Herald does provide these sample questions:

1. In what year did Federation take place?
2. Which day of the year is Australia Day?
3. Who was the first Prime Minister of Australia?
4. What is the first line of Australia’s national anthem?
5. What is the floral emblem of Australia?
6. What is the population of Australia?
7. In what city is the Parliament House of the Commonwealth Parliament located?
8. Who is the Queen’s representative in Australia?
9. How are Members of Parliament chosen?
10. Who do Members of Parliament represent?
11. After a federal election, who forms the new government?
12. What are the colours on the Australian flag?
13. Who is the head of the Australian Government?
14. What are the three levels of government in Australia?
15. In what year did the European settlement of Australia start?
16. Serving on a jury if required is a responsibility of Australian citizenship: true or false?
17. In Australia, everyone is free to practice the religion of their choice, or practice no religion: true of false?
18. To be elected to the Commonwealth Parliament you must be an Australian citizen: true or false?
19. As an Australian citizen, I have the right to register my baby born overseas as an Australian citizen: true or false?
20. Australian citizens aged 18 years or over are required to enrol on the electoral register: true or false?

You don’t need answers, do you?

There will be a nice little earner in Citizenship Tuition though. Perhaps I should set aside part of English/ESL

logo.gifM would have failed, I suspect, had he been confronted with this when he became a citizen. His citizenship, and his right to it, is nonetheless beyond question in my book. Such knowledge (where relevant) has come his way since through simply being an Australian citizen and an intelligent and curious participant in Australian life. Let’s face it: there are some items even in those 20 Questions that simply don’t matter, mixed up with other items that clearly do matter.Trivial Pursuit, essentially, as I have said before! Clicking the logo on the right could take you to the Australian government’s new citizenship test kit then…

Surely the real issue is what contribution people can make to Australia, not what superficial book-learning they may have about Australia.

I have added a new tag, you may notice. While tagging past entries I notice the citizenship test idea was first raised by Andrew Robb (Howard glove puppet?) in April 2006, when I described it as “one of those simplistic nostrums that occur to people over a few beers or while ringing talk-back radio”; later, in December 2006 the PM had embraced the idea — unsurprising really — as “designed to remove divisions in Australian society.” How that works is anyone’s guess; it may in fact have the opposite effect. I went on in December 2006: “Is this scheme going to address community issues in any significant way? No, it won’t. It is a facile scheme, in my view; but that is of course just my view.” Nothing since has led to a change of heart.

* A DRAFT Citizenship Test Resource Book is [was?] now available here. The Harvester Judgement is mentioned. I don’t have too much of a problem with the resource book, from a first reading. I think ALL Australians should have one. I suggest there is material in there that many fourth or fifth generation Australians would be unsure about. I still object to an arbitrary TEST based on this as being of much value. I also suggest the Resource Book should be made available — like the Road Rules — in a variety of community languages, as happens, for example, at the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission site. There was a time not so long ago when it would simply have been assumed this would happen in order that the information therein reached, and was understood by, as many people as possible. A CD version for the visually impaired would be nice too, and a DVD/CD-ROM — why not if Spicks and Specks can do it? — or interactive web version, even better if also in a range of community languages…

It IS an English Test!

When you get to the “how to do the test” section at the end of the booklet you discover that it really is an English test. It even tells you how to learn enough English to pass, using AMEP to do so. Naturally, this advice is in English… No sense of irony, these people.

Finally:

Hollow desperation: John Howard on education — TV review bonus

14 MAY 2007

That’s my first impression of Howard’s attempt just tonight to undo Kevin Rudd’s progress on the schools front. I only have the news report to go on at this stage. I will follow it up later. Still following Kevin (the D-word one)down the yellow brick road, it appears.

“Perhaps in speaking about this issue, I’ll again be accused by my opponents of being captive to old ideas,” he said.

“Perhaps a well-ordered classroom where teachers have authority is an old idea, but more importantly, it’s a good idea.”

Mr Howard says the number of students who are under performing is still too high.

He says Australia needs to aim higher than minimum international benchmarks.

“The year three, five and seven literacy and numeracy testing implemented at the Australian Government’s request show that about 10 per cent of students are not meeting basic benchmarks in basic literacy and numeracy,” he said.

“Worryingly, performance actually declines at higher levels of schooling.”

Pure Kevin D. And yes, a well-ordered classroom is a good idea. John should take a year working in one of our more interesting schools and see what his politics actually does in the real world, with or without the principal having the right to hire and fire. Let’s see how good he would be at spotting and actually dealing with bullying in a school of maybe 1200 kids. Let’s see if he could come up with some brilliant scheme better than what is already in place. Let’s see if he knew what to do with the “stupid children.” (I might add I had little idea for the first five years or so of teaching.) Let’s watch him effect the miracle of making more than 50% of the children come out above average. Or Julie Bishop ditto.

Bloody wastes of space both of them…

“Soulless etc. Economic service etc.” Julie is explaining now on Lateline why Labor is wrong. What is “quality” Julie? Do you even know? Does it include actual critical thinking? Or is it just, as I suspect, a buzz word. “Labor is just about numbers.” This is such hypocrisy when the bloody government has been all about numbers and economics for the past ten bloody years! Except when they’ve been hijacking education (or trying to) in the interests of the most conservative “values”… Their values. And complaining about “ridiculous” Education Union submissions that point out that some really important aspects of education may not be measurable in standardised tests — a truism really: love of poetry is hard to measure, just for starters…

“Choice!” “Basic skills!” All the tired old mantras… God I am sick of this mob. And why are they complaining about Labor being bean counters when they want to standardise test the system to death?

But then I have just been watching The Bastard Boys. Some interesting values education could come out of the study of that, don’t you think? Michael Duffy has, predictable as tomorrow’s sunrise, shown where he stands on that, you may have noted. Since Corrigan is not unambiguously the hero and the trade unionists are shown as human, it must have been “biassed.” “Bias” is bad, if it is on the non-Howard side. On the other hand, hagiography is good, if it is on the Howard side. I thought the series remarkable. Corrigan did not appear as Satan after all. It did show that the unions had to change. It did show that the status quo before these events encompassed quite unreasonable conditions and perks on the waterfront. It also showed, of course, that there may well have been — indeed almost certainly was — a conspiracy here at the highest levels. It reminded us again of Peter Reith, God save us! It reminded us of how far this government has been willing to go on its ideological mission. If you want facts and documents about those 1998 events, go to The 1998 Waterfront Dispute on the Australian Politics site.

The irony of what Julie is saying (back to Lateline) is that all the things the government claims they OWN are actually just as attainable, so far as they ought to be attained, under Rudd’s policies, but without killing public education in the process…

Julie is spouting cliches upon cliches… Much of it is motherhood stuff. Of course bullying is bad, and of course schools are addressing it. But the Australian government doesn’t actually run a single school itself, so they can monster and blame whoever they like really… Especially if the monstering and blaming elicit the kind of fear and distrust which the Libs so love as they continue their ideological mission.

That was a rave and rant post, but that doesn’t make it wrong…

Next day

I have written again, as you probably have seen, in the light of what John Howard actually said, focusing especially on bullying in schools. Also, on Bastard Boys I am pleased (and surprised a little) to see Jim Belshaw is in broad agreement with my assessment of the program.

Extra! Extra! Read all about it!

The Herald/Age have done good this morning! There were around six bombshells let off in today’s papers. Here for future reference are three.

1. Ross Gittins on Christian Porter and the Mal Content government.

These penny-pinching cost cuts aimed mainly at the socially disadvantaged and politically defenceless – if roughing up asylum seekers and their kids goes down so well with voters, why not extend the attack to bottom-of-the-pile Aussies? – are far from sufficient to make much impact on the budget deficit.

They show the government is near the bottom of the barrel in the quality of budget savings it’s prepared to make.

It wants us to believe the federal budget is close to bankruptcy but, in truth, it’s this government that’s nearer to being morally, politically and economically bankrupt.

2, Kevin Rudd on Mr Mal Content, Mr Potato Head and asylum seekers.

Malcolm Turnbull, in his 12 months in office, has now repudiated virtually everything he once stood for. He has done this because he has concluded that in order to hang onto his job, after his near-death experience in the July election, he must now appease the mad right of his party in every domain…

  • They have sought to negotiate a failed agreement with Cambodia at a cost of $55 million, and with zero effect, to deal with their failure to resettle refugees from Manus and Nauru.
  • The government cruelly refused the offer from New Zealand to resettle 150 refugees annually from Manus and Nauru, when the 2013 agreement explicitly provides for resettlement to third countries.
  • Where I recommended increasing our annual refugee intake above 20,000 if the regional resettlement agreement proved successful, after taking office they almost halved the existing 20,000.

Turnbull’s latest legislative folly should be opposed. I have kept silent on Australian domestic policy debates for the past three years. But this one sinks to new lows. It is pure politics designed to appease the xenophobes. It is without any policy merit in dealing with the real policy challenges all countries face today in what is now a global refugees crisis. And it does nothing to help those refugees left to rot for more than three years, who should be resettled now.

I really should do a post on this matter, but I can’t bear to yet. I am too deeply ashamed of where we now stand.

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Mal Content aka Mr Disappointment

Then we had bombshells on the probable invalidity of the election of Family First’s Bob Day (resigned) and the latest machinations of a resurgent Onion Muncher. But the biggie is concerning Donald J Putin:

3. Trump server link to Moscow bank revealed as FBI probes Kremlin’s five-year plan

Washington: The word “explosive” has been rendered meaningless in this US presidential election – so I’ll just state this baldly. The FBI is investigating a deliberate, years-long Russian effort by which Moscow co-opted Donald Trump, and the Republican Party candidate had, until very recently, a super-secret internet server, which carried heavy, two-way traffic between his Manhattan tower and a Russian bank with close ties to the Kremlin…

Now that really could be bigger than Watergate!

Image result for donald trump

Update – an hour later!

On that last Trumpshell see HERE’S THE PROBLEM WITH THE STORY CONNECTING RUSSIA TO DONALD TRUMP’S EMAIL SERVER and Investigating Donald Trump, F.B.I. Sees No Clear Link to Russia.

F.B.I. officials spent weeks examining computer data showing an odd stream of activity to a Trump Organization server and Alfa Bank. Computer logs obtained by The New York Times show that two servers at Alfa Bank sent more than 2,700 “look-up” messages — a first step for one system’s computers to talk to another — to a Trump-connected server beginning in the spring. But the F.B.I. ultimately concluded that there could be an innocuous explanation, like a marketing email or spam, for the computer contacts.