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

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.

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

Scott Morrison finally gets what he wants.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has finally been accepted as a real tradie after being exposed in a segment on A Current Affair.

Morrison was left floundering during an interview with host Tracey Grimshaw on a program which devotes itself to exposing dodgy tradies, repairmen and other occupations that Scott has imitated since becoming prime minister.

Viewers of A Current Affair watched Morrison suffer a ‘brutal takedown’ during the interview with Grimshaw, which aired on a channel which has been very sympathetic to the prime minister since he came to power. It came about the same time that Morrison rudely dismissed a journalist’s question as to why he has not appeared on NITV, the national Indigenous network, during the election campaign.

A Current Affair follows the formula of any modern commercial current affairs program. It runs countless stories exposing small-time cheats and scammers such as dodgy tradies, fridge repairmen, loan sharks, lawyers or small businesses, instead of pursuing big time cheaters such as political doners or the politicians themselves. It goes after very easy targets. If it does run stories on politicians, it is likely to be an ‘expose’ of a local council’s failure to repair a few potholes.

A Current Affair is nowhere near ‘investigative journalism’, and yet Morrison couldn’t even survive an interview on a show of this nature.

Ironically, Morrison has now been reduced to the status of the people he has been imitating in endless photo opportunities since coming to power. He has pretended to weld, drive trucks, use military hardware, bake, pour beer, build a cubbyhouse, run water for a football team and even wash a woman’s hair in a salon.

If only A Current Affair and its counterparts would run a story exposing his failure to be prime minister.

Image: Getty Images

Who should lead a nation?

There are two types of leaders: boring administrators and inspirational heroes.

Who would you prefer to lead your country?

Personally, I want a boring administrator to lead my nation. Boring administrators fulfill the role of a national leader, which is to essentially ensure that schools are funded, rubbish is collected, hospitals are staffed and trains run on time. It’s a boring job, best performed by boring people. Politicians are public servants and the highest ranking politician in the land is the highest ranking public servant in the land. A highly-paid and famous public servant, but still a public servant.

Unfortunately, too many world leaders have forgotten this, and have succumbed to the temptation to be seen as strong, charismatic, brave heroes.

Politicians do paperwork. Ultimately, that is their job. They review current policies regarding public services. They draft new policies and negotiate to have them implemented. Politicians on all sides of the political spectrum will strive to have their world view reflected in policy, but ultimately all of them are administrators.

That’s not to say politicians are boring per se. They can be as exciting and interesting as they want in their free time. They can front alternative rock bands, make funky art, do extreme sports or whatever they want, as long as they remember that when they are performing their role as a politician, they are supposed to be boring.

Brave, inspirational, strong and charismatic leaders struggle to combine substance with their style.

Donald Trump epitomises style over substance. His substantial fortune funded a slick public relations campaign which won him the election and kept him in office. He deliberately positioned himself as a strong, charismatic leader making bold statements to persuade impressionable voters to elect him. It worked. He even coined the phrase ‘Fake News’ to drown out the voices of reason, the voices of the boring administrators who offered the electorate statistics, facts and objective information gleaned from the boring paperwork they had done in their role as public servants. Trump reigned as a populist leader who was apparently strong and brave, and did nothing to serve the public. If you vote for strong leaders, you risk creating another Trump.

In Mexico some years ago, people vowed to vote for Enrique Pena Nieto because he is ‘muy guapo’, or very good looking. Perhaps not the best reason to vote for a president. It worked, though, and he became president, but few people would nominate Mexico as a land of public service efficiency.

Leaders such as Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil, Boris Johnson in the UK and Scott Morrison in Australia have also fallen into the Trump trap. They posit themselves as strong, courageous leaders who can improve and protect their country, but forego the boring administrative tasks required of a leader.

Scott Morrison is called ‘Trump Lite’ and famously displayed his organisational incompetence during the recent Australian bushfire crisis, the COVID-19 pandemic and the damaging floods. A boring administrator would have saved many Australian plants and animals, homes and people’s lives.

Morrison also makes endless statements claiming to ‘stand up to’ fellow world leaders in times of crisis. He famously attacks China when his popularity wanes and pretends to be courageous towards the emerging superpower. The statements increase his popularity among gullible, impressionable voters (and the racists) who demand inspirational, brave leaders, but they are not the wise words of a skilled administrator addressing the country’s largest trading partner. A boring administrator would treat China appropriately, and protect Australia’s economy and exports.

Brave, strong charismatic leaders often need an enemy. They will often create one to appear strong, and this can manifest as real life conflict.

Morrison’s predecessor also succumbed to popularism. Former prime minister Tony Abbott flaunted his impressive muscular physique honed through daily exercise, and implied that it was central to his ability to run the country. Yes, it was impressive for a man of his age, but do you need a six pack to manage tax rates? He also promised to shirt-front Vladimir Putin at a world leader’s summit, before eventually shaking his hand and smiling. Not only did he fail to deliver his promise, he also placated voters who expect a leader to be physically strong and brave, rather than boring and intelligent. He also forgot that you can’t shirt-front someone who never wears a shirt.

Putin is himself a strong, charismatic leader. He poses endlessly in photos boasting of his physical virility and prowess. He portrays himself as a strong leader and he eventually believed his own hype. Experts attribute his invasion of Ukraine to his ego, and his desperation to be seen as a strong leader, in the vein of a conqueror determined to restore the glory of Russia and the former Soviet Union. If you vote for strong leaders, you run the risk of creating another Putin.

Strong leaders keep us safe.

This is a popular belief and refrain. Proponents point to leaders like Winston Churchill as examples of charismatic and brave leaders who protected a nation during times of war. Yes, a brave leader might guide us through a war, making rousing speeches of courage and resilience, vowing to face the enemy anywhere at any time, even on the beaches. But a skilled administrator, a boring public servant, could prevent us from going to war in the first place.

“She’s got no balls.”

You’d hope not, because then she wouldn’t be a she – but that’s a different discussion. The quote comes from an acquaintance discussing candidates in an upcoming local election, made in reference to the incumbent female representative. The conservative, middle-aged man believed the woman wasn’t strong, brave, confident or aggressive enough to lead their region.

Why?

They didn’t say. They just believed she had no balls. Clearly they expected a leader with as much style as substance, perhaps even more of the former. They didn’t want a boring public servant.

Media darlings

Modern politicians must exist within the modern media landscape. They must present well and this will force all of them to consider ‘optics’ before and during their political term. However, many politicians prioritise optics too greatly and neglect their duties. Only voters can prevent leaders from concentrating too heavily on optics and instead force them to dedicate themselves to their work.

Next time you consider who to vote for in an election, ask yourself:

Does charisma staff hospitals?

Does charisma care for the elderly?

Does charisma improve children’s literacy?

Does charisma make the trains run on time?

Does charisma keep wages high?

Does charisma create employment?

Also remember this:

Boring politicians do their job and let us get on with our lives.

Boring politicians are not noticed, except when they make mistakes. When the trains don’t run on time, hospitals are understaffed, school children are left without teachers and roads are full of potholes, politicians are noticed. They shouldn’t be. They should administer our nations and regions and remain in the background.

Boring politicians avoid the headlines. Boring politicians resist the lure of fame, they ignore the temptation of the perfect soundbite or witty retort at their opponents.

Boring politicians are more efficient. Thus, you spend less time dealing with their departments, and more time enjoying your own life.

Image: Aditya Joshi

It’s not real until it’s royal.

Why does the world always wait for a member of a royal family to validate an issue before acknowledging its gravity?

Countless news headlines lead with comments from a random royal on social issues, and photos of royals are splashed across websites even though the royal played no part in the event or speaks with no authority on the issue.

Royals are propagandists

Royal families are the world’s most gifted propagandists. They have used propaganda for centuries to maintain hegemony. They have used propaganda to convince their subjects that they rule by divine right, through the mandate of a chosen deity.

When royals attend an event, they do so for propaganda. Their marketing arm, which is large, arranges suitable photo opportunities which maintain the positive public image of the family and the very institution, in the same way that marketing teams present a positive, and inaccurate, image of politicians.

Propaganda is powerful.

In many countries, royalty is the government and the government controls all media. This certainly explains the positive coverage of the Sultan of Brunei, and explains the reaction to his decrees. The Sultan is known to issue a ‘titah’, or an address to the nation, whenever he feels the need. Every person in Brunei must get off the streets, close their shops, cease classes and other non-essential tasks, and tune into the address.

The Sultan will lecture his subjects on any topic. He might tackle the issue of obesity among Bruneians. The very next day, every government employee, school and university student will be forced into a government mandated health check and fitness program, which normally lasts until everyone loses interest, or until the next ‘titah’ is delivered on a completely different topic.

Bruneians are forced to get healthy because a royal commented on the issue, despite the fact that countless doctors, nurses and health experts had been advising Bruneians to get healthy for years.

But who are royals in reality?

What authority do they hold?

They’re simply born or marry into a particular family.

They’re not scientists, so they speak with absolutely no authority on the issue of climate change. Despite this, Australian news networks devoted much column space to a meeting between the Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Prince Charles of England. The article implied that Morrison had to justify Australia’s climate policy to Prince Charles. The same news networks rarely, if ever, show Morrison meeting with environmental organisations, Greens politicians, victims of climate events or renewable energy corporations. Morrison is not shown justifying his (deplorable) environmental policies to those who are experts in the field or victims of climate change. Yet somehow the issue of climate change becomes real when a royal speaks about it.

Furthermore, Queen Elizabeth II spoke at COP26 in 2021. The world has ignored expert scientists, conservationists, ecologists, renewable energy advocates and other environmental authorities for years and years, but the moment an unqualified royal speaks about climate change, the media endorses the Queen’s call to protect the environment, as if now we must start to tackle climate change.

Lecturing the world on democracy

Royals are not immune to lecturing the world on democracy, especially when it is under threat. Prince Charles of England brought this to the world’s attention when he commented on the Russian military invasion of Ukraine in early 2022.

Prince Charles was reported in the mainstream media criticising the attack and claiming that the values of democracy were under attack.

“In the stand we take here, we are in solidarity with all those who are resisting brutal aggression,” he was quoted as saying. Even his son and daughter-in-law, Prince William and his wife Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, said they stood with the people of Ukraine.

Thus, the royals claimed they stood in solidarity with all those resisting brutal aggression, except when that same brutal aggression saw countless territories stolen from indigenous people in the name of king and crown and led to the creation of the British Empire.

Rugby World Cup

Prince Harry made headlines when he entered the dressing rooms immediately after South Africa won the 2019 Rugby World Cup and congratulated Siya Kolisi and the team. The victory was significant because Kolisi was the first black captain of the Springboks to win a world cup, not so long after black South Africans were barred from even playing the sport. Kolisi was a story in himself having overcome many obstacles to captain the winning team. And yet, It was as if the victory was not real until Prince Harry personally congratulated the captain.

This is despite the fact that the British royals are certainly not experts on race relations and the rights of oppressed people. They are the oppressors, even in the case of South Africa. The English government, headed by the royal family, colonised South Africa and oppressed and murdered Indigenous South Africans. It is largely the fault of the British royal family, and the Afrikaaners, that it took so long for a black South African to captain the ‘Boks.

Proof of their poor record on race is British colonisation, as well as the tabloid news stories about a leaked message from within the British royal family decrying the racial background of Meghan Markel and the colour of her child’s skin.

Harry and Meghan made news for other reasons.

In January 2022, news outlets reported their concerns over the spread of COVID misinformation on Spotify. This is a worthy statement. But, again, why did media networks devote so much space to the concerns of a pair of royals, when health experts, media experts, governments and other authorities in this field had been raising the same concerns, with much more authority, for months and months prior to the royal statement.

Royals are celebrities

Royal families these days are nothing but celebrities. Celebrities create clickbait. This explains some of the attention given to royals in the media. But most articles and headlines do more than note the presence of the royal. They are written in such a way that the presence or comment of the royal validates an issue or event that was hitherto less important.

Interestingly, articles about a royal calling for an end to world hunger often run beside an article about which royal wore a designer-label dress better.

In all of the examples listed above, how much actual work had each royal devoted to each issue?

How much time had Prince Harry spent trying to encourage and welcome black South Africans into rugby union. How much work has he done in this sphere since sneaking into the dressing room?

How many meetings had Harry and Meghan conducted with Spotify before demanding an end to COVID misinformation? How many meetings have they had since issuing that statement?

What has any royal family, anywhere in the world, done to alleviate world poverty. What have they done in any real sense? Many of them could start by offering some of their enormous personal fortunes and wealth to those in need.

So why is it not real until it’s royal?

Perhaps we can blame the Spanish, or speakers of other Latin languages. In Spanish, the word ‘real’ means both ‘real’ and ‘royal’. Thus, Real Madrid is not the ‘authentic’ Madrid football team, but the ‘royal’ Madrid football team.

Finally, the world is still waiting for a royal to condemn the actions of Raphael Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell.

Image: http://www.ft.com

How is this legal?

A stranger enters your home.

They throw over your furniture. They tear down paintings and artworks. They break objects and rip items out of draws. They smash your possessions and make a mess that will take for ever to clean up.

They steal what is most vaulable.

Days later, the police catch them. Mug shots and finger prints are taken. Their identities are confirmed. You don’t know them, nor did you invite them into your home. You certainly don’t want them to keep your valuables.

They are not punished.

They do not have to return the valuables they stole.

They do not have to pay a fine.

They do not spend any time in jail.

They don’t even have to clean up the mess, or pay for someone else to do so.

They don’t have to fix or pay for the damage they caused.

This could never happen in Australia could it?

It does.

Every day.

Outsiders steal from Australia. They take what is valuable. They cause enormous and often irreparable damage and refuse to fix what they broke. They also refuse to clean up the mess they made, or pay for it to be done.

Who are these people?

They are mining companies.

Australia’s mining industry is 86% foreign owned. They get away with his behaviour because they have spent over $541 million in the last ten years on lobbying Australian governments.

In addition, foreign companies hold 10 out of 14 position on both the Minerals Council board and the Queensland Resources Council board.

A 2011 report estimated 83% of mine production in Australia was attributable to foreign owners, including BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto. yes, even ‘Aussie’ companies such Rio Tinto and BHP, which called itself ‘The Big Australian’. BHP is 76% foreign owned, and Rio Tinto is 83%. Between them they constitute 70% of listed mining company resources.

This means that less than 10% of mining projects are solely owned by Australian owned companies, while over 90% have some level of foreign ownership. Foreign investment accounts for 86% share of ownership of major mining projects, including 26% from the US and 27% from the UK.2.

If the mining companies are based off shore, the profits go off shore. Australians are left to clean up the mess.