The truth about Cate and Bronte Campbell.

Cate and Bronte Campbell are darlings of Australian sport. The sisters won multiple world and Olympic medals for Australia and endeared themselves to the public with their dedication and wholesome image. Since retiring from the pool, however, they have tarnished their impeccable reputation.

In 2021, Cate and Bronte signed an open letter calling on Australia’s leaders to take bold action on climate change to protect “our Australian way of life, including sport at every level.” The initiative is called The Cool Down and is headed by former Wallabies captain David Pocock. In particular, The Cool Down has backed scientific calls for the country to cut greenhouse gas emissions at least in half by 2030 and reach net zero emissions before 2050.

In a statement during the release of The Cool Down, Bronte said:

“…sport has given me everything I dreamed of and more. And it’s given me a platform. A chance to join my voice with others and advocate for change. Signing up to The Cool Down was a way to say I care, we care, and you should too. We should all care about how we’re treating the planet and how we’re going to fix it. We should all care about emissions, and not just because of the planet. We’re not just fighting for nature, we’re fighting for our way of life. Climate change will impact every aspect of how we live, including how we play sport – the thing that has told so many of us that we are Australian.”

Less than 12 months later, the truth about Cate and Bronte has been revealed. The sisters appear in TV commercials promoting Hancock Prospecting during the Commonwealth Games, where Cate is working as a poolside interviewer. The corporation makes millions of dollars from cattle farming and coal mining and Gina Rinehart is a proud climate change denier.

How can someone support action on climate change and support coal mining?

Hancock Prospecting is not a small player in the mining or agricultural industries. It describes itself as:

“…a diversified company group with interests in iron ore, coal, beef, dairy as well as continuing mineral exploration and development.” Coal mining, beef and diary farming are three of the biggest drivers of climate change. Meanwhile, Hancock Prospecting also owns Queensland Coal Investments, which is currently focused on coal exploration in Queensland, as well as Minerals Australia, which is focused on oil and gas exploration in the Beetaloo Basin, Northern Territory. Critics argue Rinehart’s proposed mine in the Beetaloo could be even more destructive than the infamous Adani mine. Rinehart dominates mining in a country with the highest per capita carbon footprint of any nation on earth.

Were the Campbell sisters aware of this when they agreed to appear in the TV commercials? If so, how were two environmentally-conscious athletes persuaded to appear in the ads?

During their swimming careers, the sisters had no choice. They were obliged to pose for photos alongside Rinehart as the mining magnate has long been a very generous sponsor of Swimming Australia. Furthermore, the swimmers received direct financial support totalling about $32,000 per year as athletes on the top tier of Swimming Australia. Cate acknowledged this support in The Financial Review in 2021.

“I don’t say this lightly, but Gina Rinehart saved swimming. Gina Rinehart stepped in [after sponsors had withdrawn funding in 2012]. She made funds available that went directly to athletes. This allowed many athletes – myself included – to see that there was a future career in swimming for us.”

Very few full-time athletes would reject this amount of financial support, but the Campbell sisters are also environmental advocates – apparently.

As retired athletes Cate and Bronte are now autonomous and free-thinking citizens of Australia able to make entirely independent choices about their career choices and professional partnerships. It appears the champions of Aussie swimming now have a choice to make.

Image: AAP

The Turnbulls Have Saved Us.

Malcolm and Lucy Turnbull have devised a masterful plan to remodel Sydney’s West in the image of the Eastern Suburbs in order to keep Westies out of the East forever.

“Once this plan is implemented, the Western Suburbs will be as liveable as the Eastern Suburbs and Westies will have no reason to venture this side of Anzac Parade,” announced the Point Piper locals, much to the relief of Eastern Suburbs residents.

“Protecting our neighbours and former constituents from Westies is the primary focus of this plan. Unlike the Bondi Passport, and the proposed Westie Wall (now known as the CBD and South East Light Rail) our plan will succeed in ridding the East of this age-old scourge.”

The former member for Wentworth and former chief of the Greater Sydney Commission then outlined the details of their vision:

Beautiful beaches will be created in the West, replete with sand, seagulls, variable surf, seaweed and bluebottles, and of course westerly winds.

Beautiful beaches will keep Westies out of the Eastern Suburbs.

Decommissioned coal mining excavators will dig an enormous hole in Western Sydney, which will then be filled with water so that Westies can enjoy their own uninterrupted harbour views.

Harbour views will keep Westies out of the Eastern Suburbs.

Cranbrook School, The Scots College and Waverley College will move permanently to the West so that their First XV can fulfil their contractual obligations without leaving home. In turn, Cranebrook School, The Schofields College and Wallacia College will occupy the vacated facilities, where non-rugby-playing students will learn from the ‘dud teachers’ currently staffing public schools out west.

Private schools will keep Westies out of the Eastern Suburbs.

Semi’s with handkerchief gardens will replace the great Australian dream, and Westies will learn the joy of sharing a property with neighbours who think an open fire is warranted in a Sydney winter, and that big dogs love tiny homes.

High-density suburbs will keep Westies out of the Eastern Suburbs.

Attractive, valuable terraces with on-road parking will be in a constant state of renovation, and the attendant skip bins will clog the narrow streets and discourage Westies from cycling or walking anywhere.

Cyclable, pedestrian-friendly suburbs will keep Westies out of the Eastern Suburbs.

The Liberal party stalwarts also advised Westies to increase their wealth and thus their climate-change resilience. One aspect of the brilliant plan, however, was exposed as deeply flawed:

“We offered lucrative financial incentives to encourage Bondi hipsters to relocate,” explained the ex-PM,

“But it was rightly explained that once you take the hipster out of Bondi, you take Bondi out of the hipster…”

Malcolm and Lucy will then ensure our salvation when they move to the Western Suburbs.

First published in The Beast magazine, August 2022.

Image: The Adelaide Advertiser

Why Manly players should boycott the NRL.

Manly players of Pasifika heritage should boycott the NRL and should encourage other players to do so.

Several Manly players recently announced their refusal to wear a pride jersey promoting LGBTQIA+ rights because it conflicts with their strict religious beliefs. The incident has sparked massive controversy and is set to distract from the Women in League round which is designed to praise and promote the women who make a massive contribution to rugby league.

Critics have blasted their homophobic stance and their decision to potentially destroy the team’s finals hopes, while others have defended their right to express their personal religious beliefs and to stay true to those convictions. The incident even drew a response from the only openly gay NRL player, former Manly forward Ian Roberts.

Manly players should boycott the NRL, but not because of a rainbow jersey. They should boycott the NRL, and encourage other rugby players to do so, to protest Australia’s inaction on tackling climate change.

Australia has the highest per-capita rate of carbon emissions in the world. Countries such as Samoa, Tonga and Fiji, from which so many NRL and Super Rugby players descend, face an existential threat from rising sea levels. Rising sea levels are the result of the climate crisis and the climate crisis is being driven by traditional agricultural practices and fossil fuels.

Australia relies heavily on cattle and diary farming, and on fossil fuels. It also relies heavily upon Pasifika rugby players at the top level. For this reason, Pasifika players are in a unique position to advocate for action to tackle climate change.

At the time of writing, 16 of the 34 players in the Wallabies squad were of Pasifika heritage, and about 50% of NRL players share the same ancestry. That’s just the men’s game. Pasifika players are powerful ball runners, powerful tacklers and powerful advocates for action on climate change – they just don’t realise the latter.

If every player of Pasifika heritage boycotted one round of the NRL, or the Super Rugby Australia competition, it would throw those competitions into complete disarray. Not only would clubs struggle to field a team, but they would struggle to field a competitive team considering the talent and influence of Pasifika players. Put simply, you can’t win a game of NRL or Super Rugby these days without Pasifika players. Even European nations are ‘acquiring’ this talent for their national teams.

Pasifika players should unite and boycott one round of the respective competition, or even an entire season considering the urgency of climate action. They should widely publicise the reason for their stance and make clear demands for improved action to tackle climate change. They should demand no new fossil fuel projects, and improved farming methods which would reduce the carbon emissions, as well as reductions to land clearing, and other measures. This could be done in conjunction with similar formal requests from the leaders of Pacific Island nations – requests which have already been made, and ignored, by successive Australian governments.

If Australia takes meaningful action to tackle climate change, the players would return to their respective teams.

The technology, resources, expertise and willingness exist to transition away from fossil fuels and traditional agricultural practices. All that is needed is a change in the behaviour of governments and corporations.

Pasifika players are in a position to advocate for this change because of their importance to the two codes. Every club fields a large number of Pasifika players; Queensland and NSW also rely on their talent during State of Origin; and the Wallabies are increasingly ‘multicultural’. Such is the depth of talent that the last time the Kangaroos played in 2019, they lost to Tonga.

In the case of Super Rugby Pacific, two teams are made up entirely of Pasifika players: Moana Pasifika and Fijian Drua. They were introduced to the competition in 2022 in recognition of the prevalence of Fijian, Samoan and Tongan players at the elite level. Removing two entire teams from a round of Super Rugby would have an even greater impact on the competition, and send a very clear message.

Pasifika rugby league and rugby union players are also in a unique position to reach two specific audiences. NRL fans are traditionally working class people who are likely to work in the fossil fuel or farming industries, and are more likely to consume the Murdoch media which is denying climate crisis and stifling action to address it. Super Rugby fans, meanwhile, traditionally emerge from the private school system and are likely to join the political parties which sustain agriculture and mining (with massive subsidies from Aussie taxpayers) or to own or manage the corporations at the top of those industries. NRL and Super Rugby players are in a unique position to communicate with NRL and Super Rugby fans to change their attitudes towards tackling climate change.

Perhaps a substandard round of rugby, or a severely depleted Wallabies team, will jolt Australians out of their climate apathy.

Individual players do assume a great risk. Like any ‘strike’ or protest action, the participants stand to lose. Players could lose match payments, their contracts or their place in the first-grade team if they sit out for one game or more. Each player would have to assess the risk to their career and their income, and weight that up against the risk to their ancestral lands.

Players would also face significant criticism. They would face criticism from their teammates, coaches and clubs, as well as fans and the media. The Murdoch media would no doubt manipulate the action for their own benefit and the players would be the ones to suffer reputational damage. That said, the situation facing is so desperate and the consequences so serious that Pasifika NRL and Super Rugby players should consider boycotting their respective competitions to force Australia to tackle climate change.

Progress

Bringing Progress to the Central West!

Sending my business to its death.

Mort saw the writing on the wall, or rather, saw the words in the wires, and knew he had to act.

“MRS CUNNINGHAM! MRS CUNNINGHAM!”

“THIS IS SERGEANT DALTON. I hereby formally serve an arrest warrant for Mr Mort Cunningham on charges of destruction of property, trespassing, vandal…”

The door creaked open reluctantly and released the heat of the fire and the aroma of Ettie Cunningham’s prize-winning scones.

“Bill”

“Ettie, look, we know he did it. Can you please ask him to stop, for everyone’s sake?”

Ettie remained steadfast, defiant, proud. Sergeant Dalton lingered, hoping to fulfil his official duty and to be offered a scone. Alas, he eventually returned to the icy, blustering wind of the plains having only accomplished the former.

Mort Cunningham navigated those icy, windswept plains in his rickety Stage Coach full of mail, rural supplies and rural folk. He gazed upon the newly-erected poles and wires running beside the trail, and witnessed their reach extending ever further into the bush. These days, his loyal passengers spoke of nothing else, excited at the prospect of a telephone in their own home and an immediate connection to the outside world.

“First sign of progress, my dear,” remarked a prominent landowner returning from a business meeting.

“Whatever will be next?” his wife pondered wistfully.

Mort also ruminated on that question. He needn’t. The answer was writ large in the Western adventures he read every night while rugged up in his empty coach between journeys. An answer soon articulated by Mr Big.

“Why, the telegraph precedes the railroad, my dear.”

This one comment spurred Mort into action. Having unloaded his cargo and passengers, he whipped his horses into action and charged back along the rough, rocky trails.

“Tschaaah, tschaaah,”

He charged along the bumpy roads splashing mud and ice in every direction as the word ‘railroad’ tormented his anxious mind.

“Tschaaah, tschaaah,”

He forced his horses into even greater depths of pain and exhaustion and reached the naked logs in record time. New logs, unwired, so far, but growing like stubborn weeds at a seemingly exponential rate. He dismounted with haste and grabbed his axe. One down, felled into the bush. The second, then the third, always felled meticulously in the same direction.

“Tschaaah, tschaaah,”

He was off. Bounding desperately along the dangerous trail.

Another dismount.

‘Railroad’

One down. Two, three, with wild panic and flailing arms, this time he slashed at every log with reckless abandon.

“Tschaaah, tschaaah,”

One down. Two, Three.

Then he felt it. The ground shook. Four horses, wide, sturdy wheels.

Bill!

“Tschaaah, tschaaah,”

Mort swung his horses 180 degrees and whipped them ferociously in a desperate attempt to outrun the inevitability of progress. His two indefatigable steads now sprinted at the speed of light on the slippery icy trail and it was only at the very last minute that Mort saw the log.

Australia expecting a flood of medals in Paris 2024.

Australia will be drowning in medals at the 2024 Olympic Games thanks to the support of mining magnate Gina Rinehart.

Rinehart recently announced a sponsorship deal with the Australian Olympic Committee through her company Hancock Prospecting, which will see Australia inundated with Olympic medals and extreme weather events until 2026.

The lucrative deal includes financial support of Australian Olympic teams at the Paris 2024 Summer Olympics, and the Milan-Cortina Winter Olympics in February 2026, as well as the Youth Olympic Games in Gangwon 2024 and in Dakar 2026, plus the Pacific Games in 2023.

“Hancock Prospecting is a great contributor to Australia,” announced a spokesperson for the deal.

“The company has contributed so much to our sporting teams over the years, and has contributed even more to our massive carbon footprint, rising sea levels, rising global temperatures, floods, fires and Australia’s worsening international reputation on climate action. More importantly, the company has contributed millions of dollars to the Institute of Public Affairs, which published a climate change review paper in 2017 that claimed most global heating was natural, a claim which experts rejected as “flawed” and “junk science”.

The spokesperson then explained some of the finer details of the arrangement.

“We must win a lot of medals before 2026, especially at the Winter events, because Ms Rinehart’s mining operations will ensure that there is no snow or ice on which to compete after 2026.”

Hancock Prospecting has a long-standing connection with sports such as swimming and rowing at international level and is credited with helping individual athletes win medals at major championships. Observers had wondered why the company chose to focus on sports such as these, until it was explained that Australia and much of the South Pacific will soon be under water due to fossil fuels, so developing competence in swimming and rowing is logical.

Various organisations have slammed the deal.

Queensland Conservation Council’s director Dave Copeman was “furious” at the decision, and was quoted as saying:

“There’s a real question of how much does a couple of big cheques to Swimming Australia and the AOC buy you out of a history of environmental devastation.”

“How the hell did they do this? What are they thinking?”

Supporters of the deal rejected such criticism.

“Look, it’s simple. Sport is a business. Medals cost money. If you want Aussies to win medals you have to put up with bushfires, floods, food shortages, crop failures, air pollution, disruption, climate refugees and more extreme weather events.”

“A lifetime occupying an unlivable planet is nothing compared to five minutes of patriotic fervour.”

You Own the Rabbitohs.

Residents of Randwick City will have total control of the South Sydney Rugby League team once the Rabbitohs become the first publicly-owned club in the NRL.

The Rabbitohs will soon pass into public ownership after it was revealed that Randwick City ratepayers contributed millions of dollars to the Heffron Centre, but will have access to only a small portion of the facility in Maroubra. Instead, senior players will have exclusive use of large parts of the complex every day of the year, except on Mad Monday.

Once the foundation club completes its transfer from Redfern Oval to Heffron Centre in preparation for the 2023 season, residents of Randwick City will take control of the first-grade team.

Ratepayers will have automatic access to a website and an App, and will be able to vote on player selection and positions, coaching appointments and recruitment.

Residents will decide which players are traded and recruited during the off-season, subject to salary cap restrictions. Residents, and not the club, would therefore have voted on the proposal to release Dane Gagai and Jaydn Su’a, and to trade Adam Reynolds for an ageing, overrated and underperforming half who was the subject of a police investigation and never actually played for the club.

Randwick locals will also determine the team line-up each week, and will vote on whether the game’s best five-eighth should play at full-back if Latrell is side-lined, and whether Captain Cam should start on the bench. Ownership also allows residents to tell Jason Demetriou how to coach in person, and not just from the comfort of their keyboard, and to centre the team’s tactics around one simple premise:

Give the ball to Latrell.

The news will undoubtedly please fans of bespectacled Aussie comedians, movie stars in leather sandals, and politicians who order their adversaries to ‘sit down boofhead’. But public ownership also benefits residents who don’t support the Rabbitohs.

Interlopers from the western suburbs, The Shire, or worse still Queensland, can use this unique situation to sabotage Souths and send them toppling out of the finals – as long as the saboteurs pay rates to Randwick City Council.

“We thank the traditional owners, and the Bra Boys, for granting us permission to establish this state-of-the-art training centre on their land, and we look forward to delivering a premiership to our supporters in return,” read a statement from the club.

“We also defend the club’s access to the community facility. Players desperately need the enormous section of the building dedicated to tattoo artists, unqualified barbers and our army of lawyers.”

Meanwhile, Randwick City ratepayers have been promised a 20% reduction on council rates if the Rabbitohs don’t win the premiership in 2023.

First published in The Beast magazine, July 2022.

Image: http://www.rabbitohs.com.au

How to solve Australia’s teacher shortage.

Australian schools face an unprecedented teacher shortage and myriad solutions have been proposed to find more teachers. None of them will work.

None of the proposed solutions will succeed unless one simple action is taken.

Primary and secondary schools are struggling to find teachers to deliver lessons to students throughout the country, and students are missing out on an education that was already truncated due to COIVD-19 lockdowns. Many schools cannot even find casual teachers let alone permanent teachers to deliver lessons. According to a recent article by Ruby Cornish from the ABC:

To date, teachers have taken more than 350,000 days of sick leave — up from 215,000 days during the same period in 2020, according to the education department. 

And in the words of NSW Teachers Federation President Angelo Gavrielatos:

We are losing teachers every single day. Every single day hundreds of classes are being interrupted.

Politicians have proposed myriad solutions:

Subsidised housing

Subsidised housing would allow teachers to live close to their school if it is in an affluent area. Yes, even teachers of rich kids are underpaid. Currently, teachers of schools in affluent areas must pay an enormous portion of their income to live close to school, or face a long commute to live somewhere affordable.

University students

2,600 final year education students have been given permission to work as casual teachers in NSW schools, despite not being formally qualified. Some of them are excellent, some are not. Teaching is one career in which years of experience make an enormous difference to performance. The scheme helps student teachers, who can start paying off their uni fees, but does it help the students?

Is this legal?

When student teachers do practicums (prac) they are not allowed to teach a class of students without a fully-qualified teacher being present for legal reasons. Has the law been changed?

Corporate staff

Non-qualified teachers have been accredited to teach. Accreditation is normally only given to fully-qualified teachers with legitimate degrees and only after they have submitted notarised qualifications, plus Working With Children Check and other documents, to the relevant authorities. Now, corporate staff are being accredited despite having no qualifications or experience. It doesn’t help students, and it dismisses the years of valuable experience of existing teachers.

FIFO Teachers

New South Wales proposed flying teachers from cities out to regional and remote areas where the shortage is felt most acutely. The government would cover the cost of flights, and pay the teachers for their work. The duration of the contract was not specified, but Gavrielatos quickly exposed numerous flaws in this opportunistic political announcement:

Well, where are they going to find the teachers from? What schools, from what cities? We have a shortage.

Also, where are these FIFO teachers currently living? They’re likely to be renting, and would have to pay dead rent while teaching in the remote location. They would expect accommodation to be provided to compensate for the dead rent, so the government would have to cover flights and accommodation. Also, casual teachers in urban areas are likely to be working already, because there’s a huge teacher shortage, so would give up work at existing schools to go bush – and they would expect to be paid a lot more than they earn at urban schools. This costs the government even more money.

Victoria is apparently offering Melbourne-based teachers up to $700 a day to teach in regional schools. The incentive applies to teachers relocating from metro areas, interstate, or overseas who work in a regional role for at least two weeks. Other financial incentives are also involved.

However, it doesn’t appear to cover accommodation.

What’s harder than finding teachers? Finding and affording rental properties in major cities. If teachers leave their current rental to take up this offer for say 1 term, they then have to find, and afford, a new rental back in the city.

Loophole?

There is a potential loophole in Victoria’s plan. A current teacher in a regional school could quit their job upon learning of this plan. They could then re-apply for exactly the same job and earn $700 a day instead of about 350 – 400 a day. If they’re prevented from doing this due to technicalities, they’re likely to be upset that they are earning less than casuals despite committing, sticking around and devoting themselves to the students despite all of the disruptions and challenges at their school. There’s a reason these schools are understaffed.

Where is the reward for staying committed to the profession and to regional students?

Retired teachers

Retired teachers have answered the call of desperate schools. If retired teachers are happy to go back into the classroom, that’s great. They would also be prime candidates for FIFO teaching. However, haven’t they already done enough? Haven’t they earned a rest?

Career change

Governments are also attempting to lure professionals from other careers into teaching. Prior learning credit would be given to professionals who would be accelerated through a teaching degree. They might come, but will they stay?

Free University

High achieving secondary students are also being lured to teaching. Governments are offering to pay some or all of the students’ university fees to entice them away from other professions. This will attract some students. However, it exposes one fundamental flaw of all of the aforementioned proposals: teacher retention.

Teachers are leaving the profession because of poor conditions. What are those conditions? They are far too many to list here. Bright students might be attracted to teaching with free university study, but will they stay if conditions are so bad? These students are bright enough to succeed in another career, and bright enough to know that.

All of these methods have been suggested because schools are so desperate for teachers and/or because a politician thinks it will help them win the next election.

What do all of these suggestions have in common?

They all cost money.

And therein lies the solution to the teacher shortage.

Pay teachers more.

Higher wages will bring teaching into line with other professions.

Higher wages will convince some teachers to stay in the profession. Poor conditions also need to be improved, but many teachers will put up with these conditions for lucrative salaries. Doctors, engineers, lawyers and architects don’t love every aspect of their jobs. Dentists even more so.

Australia is a capitalist society. Young people make career choice based on salary, and society makes assumptions about careers based on salaries. Low pay is one reason Australians don’t respect teaching or teachers, and this in turn causes some of the terrible conditions under which teachers work.

Teaching is a job. It is a vocation, a profession, a craft and a passion. It is also how teachers pay the rent and support their own families, and cover the costs of their daily lives. With the increased cost of living in Australia, the first step to attracting and retaining capable people to the profession is to pay teachers more.

Image: Element5Digital

The leftist agenda in the Australian school system.

A leftist agenda is taking over the Australian school system and conservatives blame it for declining educational standards and many of the nation’s problems.

Is the claim true?

If so, can the leftist agenda be removed?

There is some truth to the statement. Classroom discussions and activities in Australian secondary schools are more likely to favour a left wing world view and the teachers delivering those lessons are also more likely to hold a left wing world view.

Language and Humanities subjects (and even the all encompassing subject of PD/H/PE) contain modules which conservatives would consider left wing, and it is certainly difficult for a student to defend a right wing world view in the classroom, or in a written task, when discussing a social issue.

One specific issue is Transgender people in women’s sport. Arguments exist on both sides of this issue, but it would be very difficult for an Australian student in English, History or PD/H/PE to argue that Transgender people should be banned from women’s sport, despite the fact that students are taught to express (almost) any viewpoint as long as they support the viewpoint with legitimate evidence.

How am I qualified to comment on this issue? I’m a teacher of English and History with many years experience in the Australian school system. Subjects such as English and History invite discussions on social issues and History is famously contentious.

Who makes these claims?

Conservative politicians, conservative media commentators, some academics and, according to an ABC article, One Nation voters.

According to the ABC article:

“One Nation voters are turning on the mainstream education system as conservatives across the country express a deep mistrust of what they say is a “leftist agenda” taking over the classroom.”

Why the ABC devoted an entire article to the thoughts of One Nation voters is probably a more appropriate subject of investigation. One Nation voters, however, are not the only critics of Australian schools and teachers.

One legitimate critic is education expert and former English teacher Kevin Donnelly who points to a “march of the left through the institutions”. His book, “How Political Correctness Is Destroying Australia — Enemies Within and Without” was launched by Tony Abbott and Alan Jones, and includes chapters such as “Thought police screening schoolbooks” and “Culture wars: the left’s university loonies”.

Seemingly extreme, but his classroom experience does add some legitimacy to the claims. On the other hand, the statement makes a number of broad assumptions.

Firstly, it assumes that teenagers listen to teachers long enough to be influenced.

Secondly, it implies that Australia as a nation is moving to the left. This position is difficult to sustain. The Liberal National Party ruled for nine years and became more conservative and right wing under Scott Morrison, and don’t appear to have changed under the leadership of Peter Dutton. Furthermore, that same government oversaw policies which were extremely ‘right wing’ in regards to issues such as the environment, immigration, gender equality and treatment of workers. Even the allocation of educational funding was anything but left wing – stripping funding from public universities and awarding millions of dollars to private schools while public schools remain underfunded. Australians voted them back into power in 2019.

If Australia is as ‘left wing’ as critics claim, why is the country planning to open new coal mines?

Why were we forced into a ‘gas-led recovery’ and why do fossil fuel corporations continue to be subsidised by the government? This would never happen in a country with a ‘leftist agenda’.

In addition, the claim ignores another vital fact. School curricula are created by governments. Education departments, politicians and bureaucrats combine to create the content of school subjects. Teachers deliver the subjects. History is extremely political. A teacher’s natural bias can never be removed from a subject, but as Queensland Teachers Union president Kevin Bates reminds us:

“I think that unfortunately what’s happened in terms of the commentariat is these throwaway lines about the left being dominant in education etcetera — it’s nonsensical,” he said.

“The national curriculum is determined as a collective effort from education ministers, from all the states and territories and the Federal Government.”

Even if it is true that Australian schools carry a leftist agenda, can this be changed?

Yes, it can.

The solution is to increase teacher’s salaries.

Teachers salaries in Australia are famously low compared to other professions. So low in fact that many Australians probably don’t consider teaching a profession, certainly not on par with medicine, law, engineering or architecture.

Low wages mean people enter teaching for altruistic reasons. People who are motivated by altruism are more likely to be open minded and tolerant, to believe in the greater good, to want to contribute to society, to defend the natural environment, the oppressed and the marginalised – characteristics which define a person as left wing.

If anyone enters teaching for the money, they’re in for a rude shock.

Therein lies the solution: pay teachers more.

Raise the standard salary of every school teacher in Australia. This must be done at government level. The LNP could have done it during the nine years they spent in power until the recent federal election. They didn’t. Ironically, the same conservatives who bemoan the leftist agenda in Australian schools could have done something about it. They didn’t.

Raising teachers salaries, substantially and in real terms, will attract young people more motivated by money than pure altruism. It will attract people who prioritise the lifestyle afforded to them by a lucrative salary. These people, motivated more by more than altruism, are more likely to be individualistic, conservative and ‘right wing’.

More ‘right wing’ teachers would offset the influence of ‘left wing’ teachers in Australian schools as they deliver the mandated school curriculum, and restore the perceived imbalance. Conservatives, especially politicians, should stop whinging about a ‘leftist agenda’ and address the issue by raising Australian teachers’ salaries.

Image: Element5Digital

Donald Trump’s contribution to democracy.

Donald Trump may have established a dangerous precedent for modern democracy. He may have demonstrated that the more damage a leader does to a nation the more chance they have of being re-elected.

Trump lost the 2021 election to Joe Biden and the Democrats in the United States, but plans to run again in 2024 and could realistically win the next election simply because he inflicted so much damage on the nation while in office that no leader or party could fix it in just one term.

Americans expect Biden to fix many of Trump’s problems, and if he doesn’t, they may turn again to Trump.

Strategy or coincidence?

Was this Trump’s strategy from the beginning of his presidency? Did he and his advisors plan this as soon as he moved into the White House? It’s hard to imagine they did. It’s hard to imagine Trump had any plan apart from exploiting hatred and bigotry to maintain his power and protect the interests of his businesses and his allies.

It’s difficult to imagine Trump planned this failure because his reign was marked entirely by neglect; the neglect which created the myriad problems which Biden and his team must solve.

Mission impossible

Joe Biden cannot repair all of the damage Trump created. There is simply not enough time in one presidential term, especially since the underlying cause was the deliberate division Trump weaponised in his campaign and his presidency. Trump utilised existing social polarisation fomented through social media and the Murdoch press to protect his power, and entrenched this polarisation in American society. That division might be a hallmark of US society forever.

Another primary feature of Trump’s reign was publicity. He utilised the Murdoch press, or Murdoch utilised him, to advance an agenda and to win support from the ignorant gullible and impressionable masses. When Biden nears the end of his term and hasn’t fixed all of the problems Trump created, Murdoch need only repeat the same tactics to mobilise a disgruntled sector of the population to turn against Biden and vote for Trump.

The irony

Ironically, many Trump supporters suffered under Trump. They ‘voted against their best interests’ as political experts like to call it. For example, many Trump supporters are lower middle – lower class workers, who forgot, or ignored, the fact that Trump and his allies are employers and leaders of corporations who stripped workers of their rights between 2017 and 2021.

During the 2024 election campaign, Murdoch will no doubt harness this anger and direct it towards Biden in order to convince workers that they should once again vote for Trump.

Biden and his team will improve some aspects of life in the United States, because it’s impossible to get any worse, but it’s also impossible to fix all of the problems Trump created.

A dangerous precedent

Trump’s reign was closely watched throughout the world. The United States is a world superpower after all. What did world leaders, political parties and potential world leaders learn?

Did they learn that damaging a country, while protecting the interests of the leader, the party and their donors, renders the opposition’s task so difficult that the opposition is bound to fail? Once the opposition has failed, Trump’s imitators can take back power.

World leaders may never have considered this as a deliberate tactic, but Trump has shown them that it could be successful.

Trump Lite

Australia has suffered a similar fate. Recently deposed prime minister, Scott Morrison, was also known as Trump Lite and is widely regarded as the worst prime minister in the history of Australia – he was even widely despised by members of his own party.

Morrison did enormous damage to Australia. His four-year reign saw enormous damage inflicted upon areas such as the natural environment, education, Indigenous rights, women’s rights, disability services, health, aged-care services and many more.

Newly elected prime minister, Anthony Albanese of the Labor Party, has an enormous task to repair the damage Morrison and his colleagues created while in office. Many Australians, like their US counterparts, breathed a collective sigh of relief when the new party won office, but they also expect real change.

Australians expect to see improved policies and actions to fight climate change, and to lower the rising cost of living, return integrity to politics and to fix the enormous problems in education, aged-care, disability services, Indigenous communities and many other areas. The danger for Albanese and his party is that they may not have enough time to solve enough problems to win the trust of the Australian public. Remember, also, that voting is compulsory in Australia so many people must be kept happy in order for a politician or party to stay in office.

The dangerous precedent Trump set, and which people like Morrison copied, could create nations so damaged that no opposition party can sufficiently repair the damage before the next election.

Image: http://www.washingtonpost.com

La Busqueda (6)

Capítulo 28

La tercera cajita se cayo por el pegaso de Luis Manuel, pero era diferente. La cajita era de color negra, una negra brillante. También eran negras las cartas. Las letras no estaban escritas en blancos, no. Ni en azul ni rojo. No vieron ninguna letra, ni siquiera Luis Manuel.

Además, ya todo se puso oscuro. Llego una brisa, pero no refrescante como la que metió a la ventana de la casa de Elizabeth, pero una brisa de frio como la del cerrito a las afueras de La Maya. La verdad es que les dio miedo y Luis Manuel se deslizo a su mano sucia dentro de la de Amanda.

Y llovió.

Llovió con fuerza. Gotas grandes se bajaron de los nubes gigantes y enojados, y atacaron al piso, que reacciono por tirar arriba un vapor caliente. La lluvia se mojó a las aventuristas y empezó a mojar a los papelitos negros.

¿Como vamos a ver la pista?

¿Como vamos a encontrar el tesoro?

Capítulo 29

De nuevo Amanda pensó que la búsqueda iba a terminar y que tendría que rendir. Todo era tan difícil y confuso y estaba agotada, y hasta con su hermano y amiga no pudo superar este desafío.

De repente, la lluvia se paró.

De hecho, no paro, solo paro de mojar a ellos. Siguió bajando con fuerza.

La tres se miro por encima y vieron que estaban protegidos por una paragua grande y negra. Sosteniendo el paragua era una figura delgada con cabello rizado y quien quedo escondido por la oscuridad de las nubes.

Entonces, la figura hablo:

“Amanda, I will always be your friend!”

“Kerena!!!!”

Y de nuevo Amanda abrazo a ‘una amiga’.

Capítulo 30

El corazón de Amanda estaba llenando con alegría. Elizabeth, Luis Manuel y Kerena. Juntos.

Al mismo tiempo, aun no había encontrado el tesoro y los papelitos negros de la pista de B se quedaron sin interpretar. Sin decir nada, Kerena tomo la flecha negra desde la mano de Amanda y la paso por encima de los papelitos. Se revelaron nueve letras.

N C A A L S B W K

Pareció un SMS de Luis Manuel.

Con otro toque de la flecha negra, Kerena hizo que los papelitos volaren y aterrizaron en las manos abiertas de Amanda.

BLACK SWAN

Amanda miro a los ojos de Kerena. Ojos morenos, amables y familiares. Los papelitos no fueron las únicas cosas que se le hizo a volar durante las ultimas horas. En este momento, se quedo una sola cosa que hacer.

Capítulo 31

El paragua se pegó el piso y las tres amiguitas bailaban por la lluvia cantando en voz alta y con pura alegría:

“Do your thang, do your thang with me now.”

Se pusieron locas y se mojaron hasta el hueso cantando:

“What’s my thang, what’s my thang, tell me now.”

Luis Manuel no sabía si debe escapar o bailar, pero por lo menos se bañó.

Los turistas estaban tan captivados que salieron del café, a pesar de la lluvia, con sus cameras puestos, y las amigas les gritaron:

“Film it now, film it now, do you hear me?”

La canción dejo a los cuatro cansados, mojados y muy felices, y con una gran pregunta:

¿Que se dice la letra A?

Capítulo 32

Lo que no se dieron cuenta es que los turistas no eran las únicas personas viendo el baile por la lluvia. Pasando por La Alameda fue alguien más, que tomo mucho interés en la actuación.

Paparazzi.

Si, pues, había llegado El Chacal por La Alameda también. Después de su actuación al Carnaval le antojo un cafecito y un helado. Se acerco a Amanda para ofrecerla la oportunidad de cantar un dueto en su próximo álbum, pero antes de que pudo hacer la pregunta, el paparazzi interrumpió.

“Chacal, ¡Chacal!” gritaron en su manera mandona, con sus cameras listas.

“¡Chacal, quítate de la foto!”

Y Amanda les dio su mejor sonrisa.

Capítulo 33

Despues de salió el sol de nuevo, El Chacal le dirigió también a la última pista, y muy, muy cerca del tesoro.

Se les mando a una cabaña. Una cabaña linda, con una soga roja como las de los discos elegantes en Europa. El Chacal bajo la soga para que se pasaron ellos, y nadie más.

“Adiós muchachos,” les dijo, “…y Barbie, la oferta se queda.”

Con eso se fue.

Lo que vieron por dentro hubiera sido imposible de creer, si no lo habían visto con sus propios ojos. Algo increíble, asombrosa.

Pero lo más impresionante se quedó detrás del tesoro. Algo aun mas importante. Había una señal colgada por el techo, hecho de cuatro letras. No cuatro letras mescladas para arreglar. Cuatro letras sencillas.

AMOR

Debajo de la señal se pararon los papas de Amanda.

“Mi hija, lo lograste, este es su tesoro.”

Capítulo 34

El tesoro lleno la cabaña.

Chocolate.

¡Un montón de chocolate!

Barras de chocolate, chocolate dentro de caramelos, un gran pastel de chocolate, una fuente de chocolate que solo había visto en las películas y que creía que no era real, licuados de sabor chocolate…

Chocolate, chocolate, chocolate…

¡Si, esta búsqueda valió la pena!

Rodeada por la gente que ama, después de una aventura tan emocionante, difícil, confuso, había solo una cosa más que hacer:

Decidir cual chocolate iba a comer primero.

Saco una fresa y la metió a la fuente de chocolate.

Que rica…

“Mmmm, me pregunta,” dijo a los demás, “…si se puede meter a una mora en la fuente de chocolate,” y Elizabeth se puso a correr.

Se burlaron, se rieron, lloraban con placer y reflejaron en esta noche de locura que empezó en las calles de La Maya.

Mientras empezar el banquete, Amanda miro algo de la esquina de su ojo. Detrás de una gorra y lentes grandes, alguien se escondió. Amanda no sabía quién fue, pero cuando sonrió, vio un espacio, muy pequeño, entre los dientes del frente. Hecho un vistazo a todo el chocolate, y dijo a Amanda,

“¡Que nadie te lo quita!”

El fin

Image: DaYsO