Allan Takes Aim Blog

Archive for the ‘Education’ Category

 

My latest blog is always available at: https://donallan.wordpress.com. To make direct contact e-mail me at: dca@netspeed.com.au

Australia readies for new political pantomime

Australians elect 150 people to represent them in the House of Representatives, one of its two Houses of Parliament. The other house, the Senate, has 76 Members. But today it’s the former that’s of interest because on Saturday 14th September, voters will be called on to elect these 150 representatives.

Failure to vote can lead to a fine. However despite being called compulsory voters don’t have to vote, the only thing that‘s compulsory is their need to get their name ticked off the electoral roll as having received ballot papers. If they then don’t vote they still have complied with the rules

That said, in the case of the next election if every voter gets their name ticked off the electoral roll then decide not to vote there, would be no House of Representatives, an unlikely outcome I admit, but because it is theoretically possible, it’s not an outcome that can be dismissed.

If the latter happened what a finale that would be to the pantomime called parliament which, if the voice of the voters over the past three years is to be believed, is what they think of the performance of the House of Representatives over the past three years.

The panto opened following the last election with a significant political event, the first time a female, Labor MP Julia Gillard, became Prime Minister of Australia. Unfortunately, the significant political event became the start of the worst political pantomime in the history of Australian Governments to which, sad to say a great many politicians contributed.

Because the number of seats held by the major parties, Labor and Liberal, couldn’t govern in their own right, the script for the pantomime was written when pragmatism came before principle on the question of who would become Prime Minister. The Greens a minor party anxious for power and Independent MPs cast in their lot with Julia Gillard so that she could form a minority Government as opposed to supporting the Liberal/National Coalition led by Liberal MP Tony Abbott., whom they disliked intensely.

However, as the months slipped past the Greens and Independents delighted in exercising their power over Julia Gillard to whom they had given support. They had forgotten the saying ‘uneasy lies the head that wears the crown’ applies equally to Prime Ministers who gain status by what most people consider foul means, which was the case with Julia Gillard and in doing so virtually sealed their own political fate.

Indeed the whole term of this Government has been mired in controversy with broken promises, reversal of policy, new taxes and much more, leading to voters to no longer trust her or Labor. That they don’t trust her isn’t surprising when one considers how she first became PM. This was achieved when Labor power brokers, as if replaying an act of regicide in mediaeval times proverbially stabbed Labor PM Kevin Rudd in the back and replaced him with Julia.

In reviewing the Panto, for a brief period of time, two performers, M&M – Misandry and Misogyny – the identical malicious twins, became stars. Hopefully their time has passed, never to be revived. Unfortunately, Julia’s poor performance has led to a clamour from some MPs for her replacement with Rudd, who initially was thought to be politically dead but has stayed very much politically alive and able to talk, much to the daily discomfiture of Julia Gillard and Labor.

Continuing the review, while many people think the Gonski Plan for education is good, only a minority of State and Territory Governments which have responsibility for their own education programs have, as yet, signed on to implement it. On the other hand the new Disability Care policy has been accepted though many in the disabled community remain sceptical about its likely success while many people also have doubts about the Government’s NBN policy.

At the same time, many voters are still bitter about the introduction of the Carbon Tax that Julia Gillard said would never be introduced. But credit where it’s due. Over five hundred pieces of legislation were passed by the Government although over ninety per cent was passed with the support of the Opposition.

Finally, however, it seems to me Kevin Rudd’s protestations that he does not want to become PM is given the lie – ‘accidentally,’ – no doubt,  by his protestations general opinion of all the political ‘experts,’ is that Labor will lose the election in September. That being the case I think voters would rather have a majority Government than again sit through a poor the political panto for another three years.

Comment welcome.

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My latest blog is always available at: https://donallan.wordpress.com. To make direct contact e-mail me at: dca@netspeed.com.au

Paranoia is directing the course of the Federal election

From the behaviour of a good many of its Federal MPs clearly the Australian Labor Party now leads in the paranoia stakes because every day a new reason for getting rid of PM Julia Gillard breaks out in party ranks. In fact the only person on the surface, who seems unaffected by paranoia, is Julia Gillard herself.

Indeed suggestion after suggestion has been floated about how to cure the ills dogging Labor that even if Gillard was removed who would take her place? Bill Shorten? Not that he will admit it, but Shorten has actively stoked the fires of paranoia with his statement that if Labor doesn’t change leaders it could experience a landslide at the next election.

Much as he is promoted in the media as a straight shooter, this statement is a piece of political ambiguity which shows Shorten is still a political assassin prepared to do to Julia Gillard, whom he professes to support, what he and his cohort of assassins did to Kevin Rudd. However, to try and keep his image squeaky clean, he has, as yet, not said it would be in the interests of the Party to remove the PM. However, if her removal ever came to pass, I doubt he would choke over the words.

Another aspect the forced removal of a second PM in a very short period of time does not seem to have been considered in an allegedly stable Democracy like Australia. Could it affect the view of leaders in other Democracies? Some of these leaders might view Australia as being less stable than it seems and the words of its political leaders not to be trusted.

In any case, regardless of Shorten being an ALP Powerbroker, what seems to me is that with the exception of a few, most politicians seem more concerned with their own welfare than that of the people who elected them. And with reference to the current brou ha ha about Labor’s leadership, how many of those seeking election as Labor MPs ever mention in their campaigning who they think should be Leader? If the party observed true democratic principles this would make electing a leader a more open process.

Of course the same could be said about the Opposition except for the fact that Tony Abbot won in democratically controlled ballot, albeit by one vote. On reflection however, and considering the negativity expressed towards him by Government Members and at times members of his own team perhaps he regrets winning.

However, it must be said in his favour that like Julia Gillard he, too, has steadfastly stared his enemies in the face while his own facial expression says do your worst but I’m staying where I am. Indeed, outrageous as the suggestion might be, perhaps Julia Gillard has copied him.

The truth of the matter is that both sets of MPs are paranoid, Labor MPs at the prospect of them being washed out in the forecast landslide and Coalition MPs at the thought that with the holy grail of Government within their grasp, Mr Abbott’s unpopularity might save the Government and the PM.

There’s no use asking MPs to cease their conspiracies. By this time voters know that most of them don’t give a tinker’s cuss about what people think. Being of ‘superior’ mind they expect voters to take their word that will face a bleak future if their party doesn’t get elected.

Voters of course will have their own views on the matter. Will they think the Gonski education plan makes education better; will the NBN make their experience of computers better; and will Disability Care, a subject of great personal interest to me, make people with a disability jump for joy? As yet there no clear answers.

And so the questions remain. Do voters think that Labor has handled these policies so badly that, regardless of what might be seen as possible benefits, they will become financial nightmares that will haunt the community for many years to come.

On the other hand the Coalition must be able to persuade them that they have the answer and that a vote for the Coalition will prevent financial nightmares.

As time goes by we’ll see which of the two possibilities gain favour with the voters. I can’t wait to see the result.

Comment welcome.

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Posted on: 15 May 2013

My latest blog is always available at: https://donallan.wordpress.com. To make direct contact e-mail me at: dca@netspeed.com.au

Budget day observations and other matters

For some households Budget Day is every day of the week while for other households it falls on one day of the week. Most countries on the other have a Budget Day at least once a year.

Budgets also fall into two categories.  Category 1  budgets often spell doom to the hopes and aspirations of many voters while Category 2  budgets are like the curate’s egg, good in parts though which part is good and which is bad is good will keep Government and Opposition at each other’s throats every day until the next budget is due.

Yesterday was national budget day in Australia and after voters heard what the Australian treasurer said in his budget speech, many Australians will know what doom feels like, not that the Treasurer will agree with them. Nonetheless as his pre-budget flow of leaks had done much to prepare most Australians for disappointment, they were not surprised.

However, when the Treasurer reiterated the bad news in his budget speech, in his best a politician to his bootstraps role he laid the blame on others. He blamed the Opposition and suggested that had it been in Government, its budget would have been worse. Of course in places other than parliament this would be called lying but because in politics ‘All’s fair in love and war’ if the Opposition were the Government it would be doing the same.

As for the budget, items the Government was relying on to persuade voters that it was responsible were: ‘Disability Care’ (formerly the National Disability Insurance Scheme), its Education Plan and Income support for pensioners. However, a close examination of budget details revealed these positives were being achieved by robbing Peter to pay Paul through the imposition of swingeing cuts on current programmes.

Despite these comments as someone with a severe disability I welcome the Disability Care initiative. However, while welcoming the initiative with open arms I long ago found out that when dealing with Government initiatives one must keep ones’ eyes open for possible faults. That said, it would thus seem churlish to complain about the time it will take to roll out Disability Care on a national basis because some people will die before the scheme becomes available to them.

Another thing to keep an eye on is the PR surrounding Disability Care which suggests that every person under 65 with a disability will receive money to cover every aspect of their care. This isn’t true but unless this issue is addressed promptly and before the preliminary rollouts take place, there’s no doubt some at the tail end of the rollout queue who harbour this false expectation could be even more seriously disadvantaged.

One might also question the new education initiative. Indeed, can education progress be measured?  I subscribe to the view that people receive the best education in the University of Life and so would hate to see schools and universities churning out robotic students with little life experience just to satisfy the ambition of certain politicians and academics. Should this happen, Australia will develop a culture of regression not progression.

This can happen when ideas are locked into long time frames without any idea of what will happen as time progresses. The advent of technology, not only in IT but in medicine and other aspects of life as new materials and new methods of doing things are created, requires constant monitoring of those ideas so that they can be adapted to the new technology.

Unfortunately, it seems me that too many politicians, academics, and social scientists plus others are attempting to create a womb to the tomb community that they and their successors can control. This has been tried in the past. The history of these failures make interesting reading.

Comment welcome.

If you would like to receive these Articles automatically you can RSS it or become a follower by using the ‘follow’ connection at bottom right of the published page.

My latest blog is always available at: https://donallan.wordpress.com. To make direct contact e-mail me at: dca@netspeed.com.au

Australia: a risk averse and nannie state 

These statements might come as a surprise to people living in other countries and to those Australians who bristle if they think someone is either questioning their own long held perception of Australia as a country of rebels who constantly question authority or, suggest it is becoming a nannie state. Of the two I think the suggestion they would dislike most is suggestion two. And they would bristle at two because it would diminish Australia’s reputation as a country of opportunity that encouraged entrepreneurs prepared to take risks and also valued hard work.

Last Wednesday,1 May, what I drew from the speech at the National Press Club, Canberra, by Alex Malley CEO of the FCPA as he launched the book “Australia’s Competitiveness From Lucky Country to Competitive Country” by Professors Michael Enright and Richard Petty, was that Australia had become as conformist as the countries to which it owed much of its population, a conformity that accelerated during the sixties and seventies.

This conformity came about because the refugees and post 1945 migrants took the view that if they were to succeed in Australia they had to adopt the values and copy the prevalent life style. In effect it was a kind of cloning by example, not science. But when the sixties and seventies came their children started adopting values and lifestyles copied from US television, that many parents found difficult to accept, little realising the same thing was happening in the US, albeit on a bigger scale. And as new communication and information technology arrived society’s old parameters were tossed out and Tsunami like change overwhelmed society.

In their desire for change, thankfully not all baby boomers discarded older values Some realised they were enjoying the benefits created by the society whose values their peers were in a rush to get rid of. I should add that much of what the latter wanted to get rid of was the creation of entrepreneurs who thought Australia was really a land of opportunity.

The fact many baby boomers exhibited a mindset of beggarliness, a mindset that continues today. They thought the Government should keep them in the style they thought they deserved. Their shibboleth: Gimme!  Gimme! Gimme! And as is their wont, politicians interested more in their own future than the future of Australia, gave in to them and in the process laid the foundation for the Nannie State.

Fortunately for Australia, many of the sixties’ entrepreneurs not averse to taking a risk invested in learning the culture, work, business ethics and politics of neighbouring countries also caught up in change.

In the course of the last two decades however, Australia has begun to learn that not only has politics changed internally but also internationally with the parties we know sitting uncomfortably in the changing Australia just as our old fashioned uncles and aunties sat as society changed around them.

Party members also behave like some of our old fashioned aunties and uncles. They sit immovable and stone faced watching the world pass all the time tut-tutting that the world is going to hell in a hand basket. It is also inevitable that societies keep imitating previous societies. Unfortunately, as history shows, by not adapting to change societies can become unstable and violent which is another good reason why Australia must change.

At the same time I suggest change is necessary if Australia wants to be one of Asia’s leading countries. What would help this come about is for new parties with different philosophies to current parties become established. As for the current parties they should berth their political boats in a safe harbour so that, day after day, away from the political battlefields their old warriors can while the time away fighting the same political battles.

Now you might think that what I have said has little to do with the CPA.  On one hand no but on another hand it has everything to do with the CPA. In a sense they have become Australia’ new breed of entrepreneur; they have taken the risk of setting up offices in Asia so that they can be on hand to take advantage of the situation by benefitting themselves and Australia as trade and business expand.

What will change also is the nature of Australia’s population. Perhaps Ausasian will become the description of the population as more and more people from China, Japan, Indonesia and Malaysia et al, marry Australians.

This leads to Education playing a leading role in the change. That said it seems to me that we should be encouraging teachers from all of these countries to come and teach not only in higher education centres but across the wide range of Australian schools.

Although unable to comment on the book and even though it is being provided to every Australian politician, state and federal, and to policymakers opinion and business leaders around the country and internationally it’s the kind of book that a philanthropist should consider purchasing on behalf of high schools and colleges.

Comment welcome.     

 

My latest blog is always available at: https://donallan.wordpress.com. To make direct contact e-mail me at: dca@netspeed.com.au

Changing one’s mind

 Do you change your mind very often? While I change my mind often about things of little consequence I hastily agreed to, I rarely change my mind on serious matters that I have given a great deal of thought. Even though I do change my mind on some of these issues some churls go as far as to say I don’t change it often enough to suit them. What they really mean is: how can I ever disagree with them?

In today’s society, some serious matters, about which I cannot imagine ever changing my mind, become subject to public relations campaigns that make issues so popular that people accept it without actually devoting any time to thinking about the issue. Creating popularity about issues can be a lot easier than people think particularly if some of the people involved are leaders in Politics, Business, The Arts, Science or one of the myriad other sections of society in which people are often thought to be greater thinkers and/or more knowledgeable about them than the common herd.

I defer to no one in my thinking but will change my mind when persuaded by logical not emotional argument that I should. Deferring to no one has often caused me problems but, accepting arguments merely because it will make life easier, is not for me.

While it is not my intention to opinion extensively on these issues in this blog, I will give a few examples. I am still a sceptic about the UN’s International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) global warming and climate change warnings. Instead of sparking rational debate between its scientists who predict that if nations continue to use fossil fuels, planet earth will warm to such a level as to become unliveable, and respected scientists who disagree with them, both groups of scientists now stand facing each other from either side of the climate chasm.

Naturally the IPCC public relations team have co-opted politicians, bureaucrats and people in media to support the IPCC position. This disturbs me because the development of fusion as the clean energy source that will replace fossil fuels and halt whatever global warning there is in its tracks, is already under way. This raises the question in my mind that the IPCC scientists in particular are more interested in the continuance of their funding than in solving the global warming problem.

I am also in favour of the Universities of the Third Age creating diplomas for graduates who have successfully completed training studies in Aged Care, Dementia, Alzheimer’s and Wellness. Who better than third age people to train for this discipline? I say that because science is in the process of creating the Fourth Age. Indeed some people have already entered that age.

The following may be a foolish idea but I would rather be accused of promoting a foolish idea than having a mind devoid of ideas.

Education is what drives society and I think the time has come to establish Second Tier Universities (STUs) with a limited curriculum that will allow access to a higher level of education for many, including those who failed to gain entry to University in the first place.

I say that because it seems ridiculous that a substantial number of young people who value higher education are being consigned to the education dustbin. I firmly believe that graduates of STU’s will be in demand as the world becomes even more technologically sophisticated and requires more and more people to service society’s needs.

People of course are of different mind about what are serious issues. Generally speaking however, I find most issues that attract popularity are fleeting and of little substance.

My final issue and an issue I think minority driven, is legalisation of same sex marriage. The fact that 13 countries (7.29% of the 192 countries listed by the UN) support same sex marriage is not a statistic that one hears from this minority’s PR team.  Because US President Obama supports the idea as does David Cameron and John Key, respectively the Prime Ministers of Britain and New Zealand, plus parliaments of assorted other countries, is not a persuasive argument. As for me, I will start to give the matter consideration when at least 50% of countries say they support it.

Comments welcome. 

My latest blog is always available at: https://donallan.wordpress.com. To make direct contact e-mail me at: dca@netspeed.com.au

 

Shameless politicians make shameless governments

On odd occasions over the years while writing about politicians, I’ve had messages from correspondents who in no uncertain terms, too rude to be printed, said the world would be a better place had some politicians never been born. When I replied to their messages it would have been easy to say ‘and so say all of us’ instead of which I pointed out that they had been responsible for electing the politicians they wish had not been born.

However, the events in Australia’s Federal Parliament last Thursday has given me cause to think these correspondents could be right when the behaviour and language of our political representatives put wilful children to shame. Indeed it can only be described as shameless!

The most shameless behaviour came from Members of the Labor Government led by Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Deputy Wayne Swan, plus some, but thankfully not all, Cabinet Ministers. And if only to demonstrate their depth of shamelessness they wrapped themselves in the flags of patriotism and care for the ‘working class’ to cover it up. Unfortunately for them, their later behaviour not only confirmed their shamelessness it also showed they cared more for themselves than either country or the working class.

It was this behaviour, grist to the mill of an aficionado of politics that removed any thought I had of stopping writing about writing about politicians. It also confirmed that to keep democracy alive, free speech is the medium that will ensure its survival and its development.

To avoid repetition of the news reports that saturated the media about the event, let me give a brief reprise. The event was an attempted coup against the Prime Minister by MPs and Senators with integrity, who said they couldn’t stomach the goings on of the Government and thought the behaviour of the Prime Minister and some Members of Cabinet, had brought the Government into disrepute. To resolve the matter they wanted the Prime Minister to stand down so that the Prime Minister she had dethroned in a previous coup could be returned to office.

Unfortunately their hopes went awry when the PM called a quick meeting of the Labor Caucus to vote on the proposition. Unfortunately, the number of caucus s who supported the coup fell just short of the number required for success. The result of this failure was an announcement that caucus had unanimously endorsed Prime Minister Gillard and Deputy Wayne Swan in their positions. Unfortunately there is no way of knowing how many, if any, caucus Members, did not offer support.

But if the statement is true, the endorsement not only displays the shallowness of the Government as a whole it also shows the majority of Australians that caucus had endorsed a Prime Minister they thought dishonest and lacking integrity who lusted for power.

And if only to show the accuracy of the perception by the majority of Australians, the PM quickly accepted the resignation of Ministers and Senior Officers of the Government. Had they not resigned it is almost certain she would have sacked them.

With an election due in September and the Government daily sinking in the polls, many gutless members of caucus who had endorsed the PM and Deputy PM, tried to protect themselves and also help avoid the PM’s revenge by taking to the media and issuing press releases designed to make them look guiltless and as if butter wouldn’t melt in their mouths. This makes them not only shameless but witless.

They also compounded their gutlessness by trying to bolster their image and ingratiate themselves with voters as proud Australians by again spouting patriotism and their care for the working class. In any case with the Labor Party having discarded democracy and egalitarianism already, the working class is no longer one of its interests.

And now for a final question: when last Thursday’s events and only a few of the Government’s litany of horror policies for example, the carbon tax, Building the Education Revolution, trying to hogtie the media and the solar panel program during which people were killed are taken in conjunction, what does this augur for Labor’s chance of being re-elected to Government in September?

Comments welcome

 

Take the cure: start writing

More often than not when I sit down at the computer to write, I don’t have a topic in mind. As I sit there I’ll idle my time away write something such as: Mary had a little lamb it had a curly tail and everywhere that Mary went she hung it on a nail. Suddenly not just one topic but myriad topics will spring to mind which is what happened a few minutes ago. Indeed I now have so many topics the only worry I have is that the topic I choose is of interest to readers. I’ll soon know if it is because if it isn’t readers will tell me.

For exmple the topics in this piece will be a gallimaufry of brief comments about Australian parliaments; the Pope’s resignation; politicians; the Oscar’s; the firstitis syndrome; status disease; the state of Australian education; and the state of Australia’s hospitals and health system.

Parliaments, as you know,  are gatherings of politicians most of whom credit themselves as the originators of ideas created by other people. Another distinguishing feature of politicians is that many have brass necks which , depending on wind direction can swivel in an arc of 3600. Sadly too, they have a limpet like quality which enables them to hang on to seats in parliament that voters should have pulled from under them a long time ago.

As for the Pope’s resignation, well may he have been infallible but he was not invincible. Like other mortals who, as they age, find their physical and mental capacities often distorted by pain, his decision to cast aside involvement in activities that require a clear mind and strong body at all times, seems wise.

The Oscar’s are a different kettle of fish.  I use that analogy because many of the winners seem to have been arrived at in fishy fashion. The winners also have much in common with people afflicted by the Firstitis Syndrome: a need to be first.

You would be surprised at how many people are afflicted by this syndrome. For example: athletes who have a need to be seen as number one in a particular sporting activity so that they can then spend the rest of their life boasting about it.

Despite its alleged egalitarianism Australia is a country filled with people for whom status matters more than happiness. This lack of status makes some people ill with depression. It also destroys the idea that egalitarian societies can be created by legislation.

As for education, when I read various articles and hear Education Ministers mouthing off about how their new education system will illuminate minds that seem resistant to education,  I wonder. The truth is some of these ministers and their supporters are so dim they should be sent back to school for arithmetic lessons while lessons in logic and philosophy might not go astray.

I would love to say Australian hospitals are a wonder of the world and that Australia’s health system is also in that category. I will concede that many of our hospitals are first class but unfortunately many are far from being places in which a stay ensures wellness. And as far as the health system is concerned while the free national health system has some benefits at the same time it has created a new class of people in an allegedly egalitarian society

Stuck for something to write about? Why not try my cure?

Blog: Allan Takes Aim; web: https://donallan.wordpress.com; dca@netspeed.com.au    

NB.  It’s pleasing to see the US Federal Court agrees with me that the Sea Shepherd is a pirate ship, as suggested in yesterday’s post: About Smart Aleck Bloggers, political plagiarists and Green Pirates



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