Monday, May 28, 2007

mute point

Sorry for the lack of posting. I feel as if someone has pressed the "mute" button on me lately. I'll have a few more days off and see if there's any improvement in my blogging mood. Otherwise, I dunno. Maybe my blogging days are drawing to an end (literally...)? Meantime thanks again for the encouragement with the sketching project, and for continuing to visit my site.

Just a quick link... Jeremy saved me the trouble of blogging about this subject the other day. Couldn't have said it better.

Monday, May 21, 2007

tossing and turning

Ratty goes batty...

Meanwhile, the Howardhuggers ponder the polls and the causes of rodent fatigue and conclude: either the rat's just a bit long in the tooth, or it's not him it's us (we're apathetic, see), or it's only because Labor has been cleverly advertising on polling weekends.
Dream on.

(Bats by wikipedia; rat with apologies to the dapper rat, where I learnt that rats are pretty damn cute, actually. Funny captions, too.)

Friday, May 18, 2007


Is this a trick question? The new citizenship test apparently asks, among other things,

"...what Australian values are based on - with the options being: the Koran, the judeo Christian tradition, Catholicism, or secularism."

My instinctive answer was secularism, but I have a feeling that's not the one they're looking for, eh? I guess I'd be on the boat back to Hamburg.
It's a curly one because even if "Australian" values were originally based in the judeo-Christian paradigm, because of the origin of British settlers, much has changed in the intervening couple of hundred years. Modern Australia should be regarded as being based on secular values so there can be room for the whole spectrum of belief systems, including Christians, Muslims, Catholics and, last and always least, atheists.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

struggle street cred

Joe Hockey says the unions, with Labor, have run a successful scare campaign against WorkChoices which has "resonated" with voters. So, he reckons people have listened to and believed the unions. This begs the question--why would people believe the unions if they didn't trust them? I mean, does anyone listen to, and take on board, a message from someone they don't like or trust?

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

masterclass, my ass

I was surprised to see The Australian declare the Budget a ‘masterclass’ the other day, because on the same front page several of its writers mentioned how Costello had ‘stolen’ and ‘pinched’ the idea from Rudd. It's a weird 'masterclass' that indulges cheating and doing homework the night before it's due, which is what this Howard Government's 'revolution' amounts to. (Saucy Julie Bishop was tightlipped this time, with no cracks of the wit about naughty boys and copycats.)
What is so revolutionary about the Howard Government‘s Budget? Paul Kelly, who endorses the Budget as a “tactical masterstroke”, claims it is revolutionary because the Liberals have finally decided to take education seriously. This “permanent change in Coalition priorities” is apparently evidence of a newly-contrived ability to engage in “long-range thinking”. So, in their eleventh year of rule, they have come to realise that education is important? Good on them. Do they want a medal or a chest to pin it on?
We expected them to lean on the states to enforce compliance and sure enough they are. What's scarier are the more insidious power grabs. The policy is vague on details like, how are they going to decide who's worthy. John Howard has a go at nutting it out, but even he doesn't sound sure:

Mr Howard said the $5 billion would go into a fund to be managed by a group called the Guardians of the Future Fund, chaired by former Commonwealth Bank head David Murray. He said it would invest the money and distribute proceeds on a competitive tender basis, possibly giving priority to universities proposing to match fund money with that from private sources, attracting tax deductibility.
“We will get a group of advisers on university matters, spiced with some financial experts to advise the education minister, who I imagine will discuss it with me and other senior ministers. The Government will make the final decision. “

And I imagine all these groups will be "spiced with" Conservatives. So, who’s electing the board of the Guardians of the Future Fund again? Who are the advisors gonna be ?(Kevin Donnelly and Ken Wiltshire, come on down!) Same with the Summer Schools. These sound a bit suss. Says Bishop, “Teachers will be selected by the federal government from a pool nominated by government and non-government schools...the programs would be run by top tertiary educators and would provide up-to-date training based on new research”. Wonder what the criteria are, and who these shadowy educators are again (Ken and Kevin, I'm watching you!).
Can we really expect the Howard Government to make ideologically-unbiased decisions about merit when it so closely controls the flow of funds? And it wants still more control over funds. Simon Marginson noted,
Another item slipped into the budget package indicates that the Government will ask the states to hand over their legislative powers over university finance. If they do not this voluntarily, says the minister, the Federal Government can seize control via its corporations power, which was confirmed last November by the High Court. This would allow the Government to decide entry into the university market and to dictate what public universities do - by shaping academic priorities, for example.

I love how they keep using that line: "Do this, or we'll make you. It's your choice."
Worst of all is the sheer trickery. As Simon Marginson detailed in the Herald yesterday, this Budget is words, words, words signifying nothing. Oh sure it hands over five billion bucks to unis!
HEEF is not a $5 billion investment in education. It is an investment in a capital fund. As the Treasurer, Peter Costello, said on budget night, the capital will not be spent. It remains part of the surplus, making future governments look good. What goes to the universities will be the earnings from the capital, an estimated $304 million a year. That's a 5 per cent increase on the $6 billion the Government spends each year on universities. Along with another $181 million in new funding in the budget, it will make a real difference. But it is no education revolution. All the Government has done is restore the cuts made to annual operating funds it made in the three years after it was first elected in 1996.

Truly, big deal.

Crossposted at Surfdom, where I also added this post today. (Oh, and I forgot to mention, a while ago, this one.)

Superrodent says he will save the planet "oh, maybe later sometime", goes shopping instead

Just one more heckle from the class clown at the back of the Masterclass.

“The Government has also moved to bolster its security credentials with the biggest rise in defence funding since the Vietnam War, with a $2 billion increase to $22 billion in 2007-08.”

Bolster its credentials…or perhaps refill its depleted coffers after rushing off to wage an expensive, neverending war in Iraq, hmm? Biggest rise since Vietnam? I thought it wasn’t polite to mention Vietnam in the context of Iraq?
Two billion for more guns (and a bigger Defence advertising budget, no doubt); a measly $150 million for solar panel rebates.

flip flap flops

Noticed there are some Conservatives around preaching that Labor should backflip and accept AWAs or else (see Paul Kelly and Janet Albrechtson). But what if it did? Would these commentators accept it as calmly as they accepted Howard’s “mini-rollback” (as an Oz editorial so cutely branded Howard's IR cave-in) the other day?
If we can have “Costello’s own” education revolution, can we have “Rudd’s own individual workplace agreements“? If Labor were to find mass support for AWAs, as the Liberals are wont to claim, could we see Rudd given the space to turn around and say, “OK then, let’s be realistic, Labor wants to be flexible and pragmatic on this too. So perhaps there is a case for extreme ‘flexibility’ at the top end of the labour market; let‘s open it up to discussion whether we should do a Howard and have a mini-cave-in too.”
As if Kelly and Albrechtson and the rest would let them get away with it. But as long as the polls favour Labor, it’s pretty much moot.

Monday, May 14, 2007

damning with heavy praise

Shorter John and Alex on Tony:

"We like him because he made the same mistake in Iraq as we did."

Utterly self-serving and hollow.