Australia: the dumnation.

Australia continues on it’s path to dumnation. Intellect is spurned and academia is neglected, our economy is dumb and education is disrespected.

Australians are gullible.

A leadership challenge gave us a prime minister who is nothing more than a re-branding exercise for the Liberal National Party (LNP). At the time, Scott Morrison was called the caretaker PM. Some even referred to him as the night-watchman in reference to a tactic used in cricket in which a less competent batter is sent in for the last moments of a day’s play, in order to protect the more competent batters for the following day. If the night-watchman is dismissed, it doesn’t really matter – he is expendable, a sacrifice to protect the team. Morrison was a sacrifice, a less competent politician chosen to fill a gap. Then Australians voted him back in. They fell for the PR spin of the carefully-crafted persona, a man devoid of substance who is himself a marketing man. Australians continue to succumb to the marketing spin and support a man who is leading the country on the path to dumnation.

A carefully-crafted persona has kept Morrison in office. He is successfully sold as the daggy Dad, the typical Aussie bloke who loves beer and footy. He occupies his days with endless photo opportunities. Photo opportunities that are lame, predictable and vacuous, but successful. In his latest photo opportunity, he pretends to nail gyprock into a wall. He holds a hammer and pretends to hold a nail between his fingers. Only, he’s not holding a nail. A quick zoom in of the image reveals he’s holding fresh air. The Australian prime minister can’t even pretend to hammer a nail in correctly. For a man who is nothing but photo opportunities, this is a major failure.

He is sold as a leader of the workers, a man who identifies with the construction worker, farmer and tradesman (yes, tradesman, not woman), and yet he and his PR team can’t even manage a staged photo opportunity. Does it matter? Does it diminish his standing in the eyes of his new constituents? No, they still fall for the PR spin. Many experts predict he will win the next federal election. All Morrison needs to do is appear in high-vis, in lab coats, in footy gear or with his family, and Australians love him. It’s that easy.

The gullible Australian is a political creation. The Labor Party, and especially the LNP, have created the gullible Australian through the mainstream media and the public education system.

An uneducated population is easier to control. Leaders like the Sultan of Brunei know this, and deliberately underfund their public education systems. The current government also understands this. Government schools in Australia are grossly underfunded and teachers are overworked and underpaid. The nation ranks very poorly among OECD nations for basic educational standards in literacy and numeracy. It is impossible to develop critical literacy without basic literacy, and this motivates the current government’s attack on public education.

Citizens who lack critical literacy will not see, or even look, behind the marketing spin of the government. They will not question announcements and policy decisions. They can be fooled with targeted language, numbers and statistics, and controlled with slogans. The current government is a master of slogans – and the slogans work.

Tertiary education is also suffering. Universities are poorly funded, but for different reasons. Universities foment anti-establishment sentiment and dissent. Students and professors have a prerogative to reject the status quo, especially a status quo led by a conservative government. Universities often lead the dissent and robust discussion that is central to a functioning democracy. The current government has successfully stifled the debate that traditionally emerges from universities.

Technical education is also under threat. Funding has been stripped from TAFE (Technical and Further Education) colleges. The result is a labour shortage. Subsequently, labour was sourced from overseas (pre-COVID). Foreign labour disadvantaged local workers, who found less employment opportunities. Foreign labour benefitted large corporations, who could source cheaper, more compliant workers. Ironically, the tradies, labourers and construction workers who form the new supporter base of the LNP, are directly disadvantaged by their chosen representatives. They are one group of Australians who have voted against their best interests, but they are too gullible and uneducated to realise.

While the Labor Party has not attacked public education with the same vigour as the LNP, they have neglected the system for many years and left government schools crumbling. The undereducated masses blindly follow the current government on the path to dumnation.

Cool to be a fool.

Many Australian school students live by this mantra. It is considered cool to not study, not care and not pay attention at school. The attitude is typical of teenagers in many countries, but in Australia it stems from a cultural disrespect for authority and intellect. A country built on convict transportation from Britain naturally carries a disrespect for authority figures, including teachers, and this partly explains the behaviour of many students in class. Disrespect for intellect runs deeper, though. Australian identity is based on the images of the farmer, the soldier, the bronzed Aussie and the athlete – all exalted for physical prowess. None praised for intellectual prowess.

Australians can revel in this image for as long as they want. Other countries won’t mind. Other countries will leap ahead of Australia is education, technology, social policy, trade and economics while Australia celebrates its ignorance. Other countries will see Australia as an opportunity to be easily exploited.

Uneducated people passively consume mass media. Discernment and critique are nowhere to be found. Driving this consumption is one man – Rupert Murdoch. NewsCorp owns most of Australia’s national and regional newspapers, and the climate change-denying, racist, sexist, bigoted news empire is a powerful propaganda tool of the LNP. Not only does the news network spread propaganda, but it publishes content which is offensive in its quality. The simplified language is aimed at 13-year-olds. The content is over-sensationalised tabloid rubbish, and the targeting of people such as Indigenous Australians, left-wing thinkers, migrants, ethnic groups, environmentalists, women and other minorities is shockingly obvious to anyone with a modicum of intelligence. Unfortunately, this is lacking in its readers, and the Murdoch-led mainstream media is leading Australia on the path to dumnation.

At the same time, the current government is stripping funding and influence from the Australian Broadcasting Commission (ABC) because the national broadcaster is famously objective, admittedly left-leaning in some cases, and trusted for its history of investigative journalism. The LNP is weakening one of its critics, but in doing so is weakening an important community service. Victims of natural disasters such as floods and fires turn to the ABC for updates and information which literally saves lives. Gutting the ABC could cost lives, as extreme weather drives further natural disasters, and pandemics become more likely. Some of those who will suffer voted for the very people who are destroying this vital public service.

Australia exports almost nothing that requires a university degree to make. The country’s economy relies heavily upon mining and livestock agriculture. While intelligent, tertiary educated people work within those industries, the act of farming and mining are not complex. Mining involves digging a hole, and farming involves animal husbandry.

Such a simple economy is not economically sustainable. Especially in a globalised world in which other countries are deliberately and actively diversifying their economies to withstand changes and progress, as well as unexpected events such as COVID-19. Mining and agricultural exports suffered during the COVID-19 pandemic, with border closures interrupting export activity and transport. Countries and businesses in the IT industry, in contrast, prospered during the pandemic as anyone who had access to technology used it to stay in contact, stay connected, stay employed or stay sane. Australia, meanwhile, runs on a nationwide internet service whose speeds recently placed it at 61st in the world.

Slow internet speed has no justification. There is no excuse for such a poor national internet service. It is simply the result of political incompetence. A country with slow internet speed, in a digital age, is heading towards dumnation.

Mining and agriculture dominate Australia’s economy, alongside construction and tourism. International tourism has halted due to the pandemic, and it is impossible to predict when it will resume and pour more money into Australian businesses and the national economy. Income from foreign tourists was previously considered a guarantee for Australians, but the country is now paying the price for the failure to diversify the economy.

Concurrently, the nation is destroying the very thing which lures so many international visitors: nature. Tourists flock to the country to see the Great Barrier Reef, Uluru, pristine beaches, rainforests, national parks and native animals. Most of these are under threat from climate change, over-development, mining, agriculture and poor regulation. Failure to protect Australia’s natural wonders will damage post-COVID tourism as well as destroying the nation’s biodiversity.

Destruction of the natural environment is not unavoidable. It is the result of direct action by Australian people since colonisation. It is the result of actions which have given Australia the highest rate of native mammal extinction in the world, the largest per capita carbon footprint of any nation on earth, and the number two world ranking in biodiversity loss.

What’s more, scientists predict the possible extinction of koalas in the near future. Only a country on the path to dumnation would knowingly destroy one of its most famous and loved national symbols. How many tourists will visit Australia in the post-COVID world if they know they can’t see a koala?

An ignorant nation does not recognise the importance of its natural environment. An ignorant nation believes the lies perpetuated in the mainstream media. An ignorant nation believes the lies told by politicians beholden to the fossil fuel industry, and the agricultural and construction sector. An ignorant population is a sign of a nation on the path to dumnation.

A useful barometer of a nation’s intellectual health is its mass media consumption. In particular, it’s free-to-air television content. Reality TV dominates this content in Australia, and every year it sinks to a new low. Scripted, manipulative shows in which contestants are rewarded for their selfishness, greed, betrayal and lies are surging in popularity and dominate the content on every commercial station.

Voting habits also indicate a nation’s intellectual standing. Fringe parties based on extreme ideologies such as racism are growing in strength in Australia. One such party is Pauline Hanson’s One Nation, named after Australia’s most famous racist.

Parties such as One Nation win support through outrageous statements. They also promise without fear because they know they will never have to fulfil the promises they make, because they know they will never form government. Of course, every politician makes promises, and most of those promises are not kept, but fringe parties can make more outrageous statements and promises, and attract more of the disgruntled voters, because the members know they will never have to deliver, and will not be voted out for failing to deliver. Members of the major parties make empty promises, but risk being voted out at the next election if they don’t deliver at least some of their promises.

Unfortunately, the people who vote for the fringe parties don’t understand this dynamic. They are ignorant, ill-informed, lowly educated or simply quick to judge and condemn, and they believe the extreme statements and policy announcements of the extreme right wing candidates. They possess the ignorance of a Trump supporter, and are a symptom of a nation on the path to dumnation.

The path to dumnation is the path to damnation. Australia will be left behind economically, socially, intellectually, technologically and academically unless it develops a respect for the enormous intellectual talent which resides in the country. Australia’s brightest minds must be recognised because they will save the nation from dumnation.

Image: http://www.worldatlas.com

Who will teach Australia’s children?

Australia demands a qualified, dedicated and capable teaching workforce to prepare its youth for tomorrow, but will this workforce comprise of long-serving, permanent teachers, or will it rely on an increasing number of casual teachers in the near future?

Teachers are quitting the workforce. Countless reports indicate that up to 50% of teachers leave the occupation within the first five years. Exhaustion, disillusionment, low pay, long hours, poor student behaviour, parental pressure and increasing administrative demands are driving many young people away from the profession.

Some of these teachers might take time off to study, find a new occupation, travel or simply recover from the trauma of modern-day teaching. Many of them may also return to teaching on a casual basis because they still have bills to pay, and because they wish to remain in touch with education with thoughts of returning to the job full-time.

Casual teachers earn a reasonable daily rate and are not burdened with the same pressures of daily planning, preparation and marking. Nor do they have to complete reports, deal with parents, attend every staff meeting or collect data on all of their students. Essentially, casual teachers are not requited to complete the endless administrative tasks which drove many of them away from the occupation in the first place.

The result could see an increasing number of Australian school students taught by casual teachers.

Is casual teaching easier?

No. Casual teaching may require less administration outside of the classroom, but the demands in the classroom are greater. An Aussie tradition is to ‘muck up’ when the regular teacher is away, so the casual teacher deals with more challenging behaviour from students. Sometimes it’s an absolute nightmare. Casual teachers often accept this trade off in return for the chance to do their job, get paid and do something they could never do as a full-time teacher – leave the job at work.

Why is casualisation a problem?

Casualisation is akin to high rates of teacher turnover. Students see different teachers regularly, and each teacher has a different personality and teaching style. Teachers new to the class may not know exactly what was covered, or how it was taught, in the previous class, and will spend time catching up the previous lesson – or simply learning the names of the students.

In addition, each individual teacher may not be a subject expert. Schools attempt to match casual teachers to the subject in which they are trained, but this isn’t always possible, Consequently, the students are supervised but not necessarily taught.

The greatest disadvantage of the casualisation of the teaching workforce is the loss of a personal connection.

‘Teachers teach people not subjects’

This saying reminds teachers that they must see their pupils as people before they regard them as learners of a particular subject. All teachers accept this role. It is the role of mentor, older sibling, counsellor, confidante, role model and, sometimes, parent. This connection with a student can only be established over time and after regular meaningful contact, and this connection is very difficult to establish as a casual teacher.

Also, if more and more teachers are casual, who will fill the roles of home-room tutor, year co-ordinator or subject co-ordinator? The aforementioned positions all entail a degree of personal mentoring and counselling of students which is vital for their general wellbeing and academic performance. If more teachers are casual, fewer will accept the responsibility of ensuring the emotional wellbeing of the students.

Casual teachers move from class to class, subject to subject and school to school. An increase in casual teachers across Australia will leave a dearth of trusted adults in schools and increase the pressure on primary school students who are developing the foundations of their education, and on secondary school students who are negotiating adolescence.

Special needs

Students with special needs will also suffer in a casualised school system. Students with special needs require individual activities or teaching strategies, and the most effective strategies are developed over time and after consultation with support teachers, the student, parents, special needs experts and the full-time teacher. A casual teacher simply cannot cater for the individual needs of every student in a class they have never met. It’s impossible.

How can this be prevented?

The best way to prevent the casualisation of the teaching workforce is to keep teachers in the teaching profession. Fortunately, the methods required to achieve this are not at all complicated.

Pay teachers more

This demand is made and ignored year after year. Even after the enormous pressure placed on teachers during the COVID-19 outbreak in 2020, teachers in Australia still have not been promised a pay rise.

Teachers are lowly paid. Lowly paid in comparison to the hours worked and the pressure of their occupation. Lowly paid according to the importance of their role in society. A mid-level teacher in NSW earns around $80,000 per year; the same amount earned by some Sydney bus drivers. Poor wages drive many teachers away from the occupation.

Low wages also create problems for schools. Lowly-paid teachers cannot afford to live in expensive suburbs, even if renting. Thus, teachers working at schools in wealthy suburbs face a very long commute from more affordable suburbs, and schools sometimes struggle to find staff on a regular basis. Teachers could live closer to school, but their meagre wages will disappear before they can even dream of buying their own home or living without financial stress.

Increasing teacher’s salaries would also improve the standing of the occupation in Australian society. Teaching is a profession, but is paid much less than other professions, and is thus regarded as inferior. Australia is a capitalist society and the worth of a job is linked to its salary. Teachers in Australia are respectful, but not respected. In a capitalist society, teachers also have bills to pay and should be able to do so comfortably in return for educating the next generation of the country.

Fund schools adequately

Schools are not funded sufficiently in Australia. Government schools lack resources to provide a variety of meaningful activities to students, or even to teach the students basic skills and knowledge. This places more stress on teachers and forces many of them to buy essential resources out of their own pockets, dipping into their meagre wages.

Funding schools adequately would improve academic outcomes and in turn improve job satisfaction among teachers. This would keep many of them in the occupation for longer.

Stand up for teachers

Society as a whole needs to stand up for teachers. Not just through uttering vague statements reminding teachers that they are ‘valued’ and ‘important’. Teachers are too smart to be fooled by empty words. Society, education departments, individual schools and sometimes individual principals need to stand up for teachers.

Teachers need to be defended from parents. Many parents now attack teachers every time their child is reprimanded or punished, or when they receive unsatisfactory grades. These attacks are usually verbal, but often physical. While parents of the past would support the actions of teachers, now they attack teachers. Unfortunately, even the most ill-informed and unreasonable parents wield enormous power in schools and can destroy a teacher’s career, as well as their general wellbeing.

Principles, schools and education departments need to stop giving in to parents.

In addition, teachers need to be defended in their interactions with students. Every year, the daily behaviour of students seems to worsen. Every year, the power of teachers to deal with that behaviour is diminished. Defending teachers does not mean bringing back capital punishment. Never. It means allowing educated, trained and experienced teachers to take reasonable action to hold children accountable for their behaviour and to stop them acting in a way that destroys their own learning and the learning of other students in the class.

All of these measures would keep teachers in the profession for longer, and prevent the casualisation of the workforce.

Paper work

Paperwork is a frustration for every occupation, including teaching. The administrative load is increasing and falls under two categories: data collection and self-defence.

Data collection is ‘on trend’ in modern education. It is not a trend initiated by teachers. It was initiated by bureaucrats. Teachers are now forced to collect and report data on student attendance, behaviour, exam results, assessment results, homework, classwork…on top of their daily tasks of planning, preparation, marking, student feedback, playground duty…

A great surge in administrative tasks has created an enormous workload for teachers and has not helped a single child learn. The data goes to schools, educations or government departments, and appears to exist only to bolster a politician’s press release.

Data is also a necessary weapon of self-defence. Teachers are forced to justify every action they take in dealing with students and parents. Teachers are filling out endless forms and databases to justify every action they take at school in fear of criticism from students or parents. Data entry allows teachers to pre-empt complaints from students or parents which could see them reprimanded, suspended or even sacked.

If a secondary student refuses to read the set text in their English class, the teacher must make a note. The teacher must prove that they have advised the student to read ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’, because the class if studying ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’. When the student proudly and publicly states that they are never going to read the novel, the teacher must create written evidence that they did everything possible to encourage the student to read the novel. When the student flies into a mad panic three days before the due date of the assessment task for ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ the teacher must provide yet more written evidence that they offered support to the student to help them pass an assessment for a novel they refused to read. The teacher must then use this written evidence to defend themselves when the parents complain to the school that their child is not able to complete the assessment task. The teacher must use the written evidence to defend themselves when the parents demand extra tuition for their child in the teacher’s lunch time or free period, so that the student who refused to read ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ can pass the assessment task about ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’. One wonders if this is what Harper Lee had in mind when she wrote the classic?

Australia faces the real possibility of a casualised teaching workforce and further erosion of overall academic standards. Teachers must be enticed to stay in the occupation, and this can be done through increasing teachers’ salaries and school funding, standing up for teachers, stripping parents of the power they wield over schools and removing the administrative load forced upon modern teachers.

Image: Element5digital

Does China need to invade Australia?

The drums of war are beating. Australia is preparing for war with China as politicians and senior bureaucrats warn of armed conflict with the emerging superpower. Citizens are stockpiling weapons or boycotting their local Chinese restaurant and the tabloid media is disseminating fear to increase sales.

But would China ever invade Australia militarily? Would it ever need to?

China’s global ambitions are undeniable. Its construction of islands in the South China Sea and its actions in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Tibet and Xinjiang indicate plans to expand its influence. Counties throughout Africa, the Caribbean and the South Pacific are also being heavily courted, and China watched on with glee as its major rival self destructed under the disaster of Trump’s presidency. Boris and Brexit must also have pleased Xi Jinping.

China will not need to launch a military attack on Australia because the land Down Under is following Britain and The USA down a path of self destruction. China simply needs to wait and pick off the weakened state when the time is right.

Numbers

China can dominate Australia numerically. Millions of Chinese people comprise the diaspora which has created entrenched communities in Australia, as in other countries. Chinese people came to dig for gold in the 1860s, and since then to seek better opportunities for their families. Chinese influence will continue to grow as the number of migrants, students and tourists from China continues to grow.

Economics and trade

Chinese dominance of Australia will be achieved primarily through economics and trade. China is Australia’s biggest trading partner – and statements from Beijing remind Australia that it is the junior partner in this relationship. Indeed, when the Australian government made ill-timed and thinly-veiled racist comments towards China recently, Beijing imposed restrictions on Australian exports, and many Australian businesses suffered significantly. Some of the comments mirrored those of former US president Donald Trump, and were deliberately designed to appeal to the same demographic: ignorant, racist, narrow-minded, bigoted, lowly educated citizens whose influence has grown in Australia in recent years.

Australia has itself to blame for this situation. Australia has a ‘dumb’ economy. The nation exports almost nothing that requires a university degree to make, and its exports consist mainly of natural resources from mining, and the products of agriculture. Australia’s refusal, inability or reluctance to diversify its economy has made it dependant upon China, and this grants China economic control. It is also another reason that China does not need to invade Australia militarily.

One economic opportunity Australia continues to squander is renewable energy. Intelligent countries, including China, recognise the future economic as well as environmental opportunities inherent in renewable energy, but Australia remains fixated on fossil fuels which will destroy the environment and the economy.

The abundant sun light which attracts so many tourists to the land Down Under each year, especially from China, could be captured as solar energy and even exported for profit, but the fossil fuel industry controls the current government, and the semi-literate Australian mainstream believes the government’s rhetoric about the need for fossil fuels in Australia’s energy market. This is a situation entirely of Australia’s making, and one which weakens the country and makes it susceptible to Chinese dominance.

Education

Academia and intelligence are not prized in Australian culture. This is the reverse in China. Public education is poorly funded in Australia and more money appears to be stripped from government schools each year, especially under a conservative government. There are young Chinese people, studying at Chinese schools in China, with higher standards of English literacy than native-speaking Australian students studying at schools in Australia. Many Australian students don’t read, and won’t read. Their parents don’t appear concerned, the students are not concerned, and both major parties continue to strip money from public education and to further damage literacy rates across the country. Numeracy rates also continue to fall in Australia, and without succumbing to national stereotypes, China’s prowess in mathematics is well known.

In addition, many young Australians lack resilience. Too many primary and secondary students are diagnosed with stress and anxiety disorder, ADD, ADHD and myriad other academic or behavioural conditions. Some students genuinely suffer from these conditions, but many don’t. Australian society has allowed the over-diagnosis of these conditions, and a generation lacking resilience will inherit this country, making it ripe for the picking from a country that does not allow the same exceptions for its students.

A solution to this problem is to fund schools adequately, and to increase wages for teachers – as a starting point.

In a globalised world, Australia is weakened. Young Australians now compete for careers with youth from across the globe, including China, and need to form habits of resilience and dedication in their daily lives in order to protect their own futures and the future of the country.

Universities

Disrespect for academia extends to tertiary education in Australia. Public universities are inadequately funded, and this has further weakened the country. Universities are subsequently forced to operate as businesses and chase international fee paying students, most of whom come from China. Lecturers are pressured to award qualifications to international students even if they fail, because universities rely on their continued income. University staff tell tales of students from overseas, and from Australia, who lack the necessary English literacy skills to pass a course, but are awarded qualifications regardless because the universities need the money. The result is a decline in academic standards which will eventually devalue the qualifications international students have paid a fortune to receive. Soon, international students will seek degrees in other countries, and another lucrative source of income to Australia will be lost. This is a situation of Australia’s making.

Poorly funded tertiary education creates another problem for Australia – brain drain. If the country’s best and brightest are denied opportunities for research in Australia, they will take their intelligence overseas.

Historical pragmatism

China is not a coloniser. Not traditionally anyway. History reveals China’s focus on establishing trade and extracting resources from other lands instead of colonising those lands. Colonisation requires the invading power to manage the lands they invade and to manage the government, as well as transport, health, education, communications and other public services, which all require personnel, money, time and effort. China knew it could still enjoy the economic benefits of dominance over other lands without having to deal with the mess of governing the country. It is likely to do so with Australia.

Three superpowers in three weeks.

The Australian government has managed to upset three superpowers in the space of three weeks. Comments from the prime minister and senior minsters or staff have provoked negative responses from China, India and the United States, and the results could be very harmful to Australia.

China.

The threat of war. Senior government figures provoked China with comments about imminent armed conflict. Former Liberal minister Christopher Pyne, Senator Jim Molan, Home Affairs secretary Mike Pezzullo, and even Defence Minister Peter Dutton made comments suggesting Australia is already, or will soon be, engaged in some form of direct conflict with China. In contrast, an article by Ewen Levick appeared in Australian Defence Magazine in March this year entitled:

War with China is not inevitable.

Average Aussies don’t know who to believe. They also might not understand the true motivation behind the comments, but China does, and Australia’s largest trading partner has already responded the best way it knows how – economically.

India

Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced that Australian citizens attempting to return to Australia from the COVID-19 hotspot of India could be issued massive fines or sent to jail. Many Australian citizens were born in India, have family in India and hold dual citizenship between the two countries. Australian citizens have access to Australia’s health system, and could be treated in Australia after completing mandatory quarantine, but they are being forced to remain in a country in the middle of a crisis, and are placing more pressure on India’s overburdened health system. This has not just angered Aussies in India and back home, but upset the government of India, which is battling to bring the crisis under control.

The United States

The Australian government set itself at odds with The USA when it refused to follow plans to reduce carbon emissions and protect the natural environment. New US president Joe Biden has publicly stated an ambition to actively reduce carbon emissions in the US in the near future, but Australia has refused to match these efforts. One specific policy which will harm Australia is the carbon tariff. The tariff, or fee, will be imposed on any goods being imported into the United States which have not been produced using more environmentally-friendly methods. Goods that are produced using fossil fuels will thus be worth less, and those businesses will lose money. The European Union is proposing a similar plan.

Ironically, this will adversely affect traditional Coalition voters, whose businesses will suffer due to the tariffs. Australia, rightly or wrongly, has a very close relationships with the United States, and cannot afford to alienate the superpower.

Upsetting other nations is inevitable in international diplomacy. Upsetting other nations is also justified if those nations are acting in a way that clearly contravenes the interests or the accepted values of the nation making the comments. China, for example, needs to be called out for its actions in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Xinjiang. In this case, however, the comments are calculated, but careless, and are deliberately designed to appease specific sectors of the Australian population.

China. Anti-China comments appeal to the racists. Australia is a racist country, and anti-Chinese racism has existed since the gold rush in the 1860s. The Liberal National Party coalition taps into this anti-China sentiment because it is dependant on the votes of the country’s racist underbelly. Warning Australians of the threat of war is also a convenient way to justify enormous spending on defence, and observant commentators noticed that the comments were made close to ANZAC Day, which commemorates fallen Aussie soldiers and is the nation’s most sacred day. Ironically, however, the public comments about China have adversely affected trade with China and this severely disadvantages Australian producers of beef, wheat and wine, who would normally vote for the Coalition.

The USA. The prime minister rejected the US proposal in order to appease the fossil fuel industry. Australians are now cognisant that the fossil fuel industry owns the Coalition.

India. Racism, or damage control? Threatening to imprison Australian citizens returning from an Asian country is clearly racist, but the proposal could also be an attempt to save face. COVID-19 quarantine is ultimately a federal government responsibility in Australia, and it has been handled very poorly. The COVID-19 vaccine rollout has been even worse. Many Australians are staring to see through the government’s COVID-19 publicity stunts, so the threat to fine or imprison citizens could be an attempt to appear tough and decisive on border control and biosecurity.

Some of the Australians trapped in India have no Indian heritage. They are cricketers, chasing big money in the lucrative Indian cricket competition. A few of the cricketers have criticised the government’s stance. Will the words of some Aussie sports heroes be enough to the change the government’s stance?

For a government that is nothing but publicity, photo opportunities and marketing, this is a massive public relations faux pas. Will it persuade Australians to stop voting for the Coalition at upcoming elections?

Image: Aditya Joshi

ANZAC Day is an ideal time to denounce right-wing extremism.

Will Scott Morrison denounce right-wing extremism on ANZAC Day?

Will the Prime Minister of Australia use his national address on April 25 to publicly denounce the rise of right-wing extremism in the country and make a strong statement that the racist ideology is not welcome in a democratic country? The prime minster’s speech writers will fill his public statements with phrases about ‘protecting our way of life’ ‘laying down their lives for our freedom’, upholding ‘Australian values’ and ‘defending democracy’, as well as encouraging us all to ensure we never live through another war. He might even pretend to cry again. But will he denounce one factor which contributes to war?

Why do it on ANZAC Day?

ANZAC Day recognises the sacrifices, suffering and deaths of individual soldiers from Australia and New Zealand since WWI. It also reminds all of us to do whatever we can to prevent war in the future, and this includes preventing right-wing extremism and excessive nationalism from becoming entrenched and accepted.

Excessive nationalism = war.

Excessive nationalism is a form of extremism. Hitler understood this very acutely, and labelled his party the National Socialist party. He also created a nationalism which was deliberately exclusive. He famously scapegoated Jewish people, and excluded them from notions of German identity, and excluded anyone else who did not conform to his party’s ideal of the pure Aryan race. Ironically, Hitler himself did not satisfy his own criteria for pure Aryan blood. Right-wing extremism caused World War II.

The ANZACs fought against the Hitler’s Nazis in WWII.

Recent media reports point to an increase in public declarations of excessive nationalism and growing support for Neo-Nazi ideology and activity in Australia. Neo-Nazi groups, emboldened by right-wing media and defenders of ‘free speech’, have been gathering in groups and happily publicising their existence across social media platforms. Swastikas have been spotted on people’s cars, their clothing, their skin and their social media accounts, and racially motivated attacks on innocent people are reported regularly.

Furthermore, Brenton Tarrant is Australian. Tarrant carried out the two terrorist attacks on mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand in 2019, and Australia produced him. Tarrant grew up in Australia and is known to have followed various right-wing extremists groups on social media before he carried out the pre-meditated attacks. He also admitted that racial and religious intolerance motivated the attacks. New Zealand soldiers fought alongside Australian soldiers during the battles which are remembered on ANZAC Day. Is this how we repay their service?

The prime minster and his Liberal National Party coalition have yet to publicly criticise the extremism which provoked the massacres.

Will he do it?

No.

Morrison and the LNP need the Nazi vote. The conservative party’s new constituency includes right-wing extremists who believe in exclusive nationalism which excludes anyone who is not white, straight and Christian. The Nazi vote is even more important after the party and the prime minister failed disastrously to handle the 2019/2020 bushfire crisis, the abuse of women in parliament house and the COVID-19 vaccine roll out. Die hard coalition voters and right-wing extremists may well save the LNP from defeat at the next federal election. This is also the party which famously boasted about ‘Turning Back the Boats’ as the cornerstone of a racist immigration policy, and which has a disastrous record on Indigenous issues.

Should he do it?

Yes

Denouncing right-wing extremism close to ANZAC Day will carry more weight. War and the suffering of conflict are at the forefront of people’s thoughts. The desire to prevent another war is stronger during commemorative days, so denouncing the philosophy which led the world to war in the past is very appropriate on ANZAC Day. In addition, ANZAC Day has become more patriotic in recent years and right-wing extremists may be more likely to exploit the surge in patriotism to push their racist agenda, so the government should denounce this ideology strongly and publicly.

Image: http://www.abc.net.au

ANZAC Day is the one day of the year…

ANZAC Day is the one day of the year that many Australians show any genuine respect for Australian history. For the remaining 364 days, many remain ignorant, dismissive, racist, sexist and bigoted. These overtly patriotic Aussies access a deeply-hidden reverence on April 25 and demand that the remainder of the population display an equal amount of pride in the achievements of soldiers and the nation as a whole.

Respect Australian history!

Many Australians implore us all to respect the nation’s history on ANZAC Day during personal conversations, across social media, in the workplace and on the flagpole in front of their house. These same people exhibit very little interest in the stories of women, migrants and Aboriginal people and the part they played in the nation’s history. History for many Australians extends to accounts of WWI and WWII, the Gold Rush, Federation and the Explorers. The figures they credit with building the nation are Diggers (soldiers) farmers, sportspeople and Explorers – almost all of whom are Caucasian and male. All Australians recognise the part these people played in shaping the modern nation, but some realise that women, migrants and Aboriginal people also made a significant contribution to contemporary Australia, and deserve to be remembered.

The respectful mourners cling to the following tried and true phrases about the history of this nation:

Australia has no history

Proud, flag-waving patriots often bemoan the fact that Australia has no history. They perpetuate this idea with reference to the age-old cultures and structures of Europe or Asia and compare these to Australia’s comparative youth. There is one major flaw in this thinking; it completely dismisses the existence of Indigenous Australians, who continue the world’s oldest surviving culture.

It happened long ago, forget about it

When confronted with the truth of colonisation and the forceful dispossession of Indigenous people from their land, many Australians tell Aboriginal people that ‘it happened a long time ago’ and that everyone should ‘let it go’, ‘move on’ or ‘forget about it’. They issue the same response to stories of the Stolen Generation, The Aboriginal Day of Mourning’ and accounts of individual massacres of Aboriginal people across the nation. Interestingly, they refuse to forget about WWI even though that happened ‘a long time ago’.

They defend our way of life

We are told that Australia’s armed forces defend the nation. We are told that our armed services personnel ‘keep us safe’ and ‘protect our way of life’. The last time we were reminded of this our prime minister, Scott Morrison, even forced himself to cry for the cameras. Most of us believe these broad statements, out of patriotism or naivety. We fail to recognise that these statements are often used to justify support of the multi-million dollar defence industry, and to send young people to needless deaths. Armed forces play a part in defending the nation, but so do trade and diplomacy.

Did the ANZACS protect Australia?

ANZAC Day was created to recognise the sacrifices, hardships and deaths of soldiers in WWI, particularly in Gallipoli, Turkey. WWI never directly threatened Australia. Australians lost their lives protecting Great Britain. ANZAC Day also recognises Australia’s contribution to WWII, when we fought again for the British. Our own country was directly threatened in WWII when Japanese submarines entered Sydney harbour and their planes bombed Darwin. It is also argued that the fall of Singapore posed a subsequent threat to Australia, and that Australian soldiers suffered while defending the tiny nation. That said, most Australian armed forces personnel fought for Great Britain in WWII, in battles waged a long way from Australia. Did they protect Australia, or did they protect our relationship with our colonial masters?

Current ANZAC Day commemorations pay tribute to soldiers who have have worn the Australian uniform in any war, but all of these battles have occurred overseas, most often in service of The United States during their wars in Vietnam and the Middle East. The only extended battle that occurred on Australian soil was the battle between the British colonisers and Indigenous Australians, but the ANZAC Day commemorators don’t like to be reminded of this. They cling to another popular phrase associated with the history of the nation: Australia was settled, and not invaded.

Do Australians realise this historical truth, or are they too enamoured with the patriotism of ANZAC Day to accept the subtle and nuanced details of modern history?

The strength and depth of emotion prompted by ANZAC Day could be explained by a question:

What is Australian?

The problematic nature of Australian identity also explains the heightened reverence towards ANZAC Day. April 25 has become a quasi national day and surpassed January 26 in the minds of many Aussies, because Australia Day is problematic.

Many Australians continue to celebrate Australia Day with joy and pride, while Indigenous Australians refer to it as Invasion Day. The day itself raises the difficult question of what it means to be Australian. Is an Australian an Indigenous person? Is an Australian a Caucasian soldier, farmer or athlete, or is an Australian a migrant who could have been born anywhere in the world? Is it all of the above?

For many Australians, this question is too difficult to answer, or even to consider, so they impose their patriotism on ANZAC Day. Some keen observers have tracked the increasing patriotism associated with ANZAC Day, and fear it could overshadow the remembrance of fallen soldiers, for whom the day was created.

Don’t criticise ANZAC Day

ANZAC Day is sacred. ANZAC Day is off limits. Even this article is likely to be met with scorn and criticised as unpatriotic or an insult to fallen soldiers – most likely by the same people who carry bumper stickers reading:

Australia, if you don’t like it, fuck off!

Any questioning of any aspect of ANZAC Day is interpreted as an attack on the memories of fallen soldiers and their surviving families. These reactive, emotional responses exemplify the blind reverence for April 25 among a section of the Australian population, who show little to no interest in nuanced and varied accounts of Australian history for the remainder of the year.

Should we ignore ANZAC Day?

No

Absolutely not.

This article is in no way intended to diminish the sacrifices of individual soldiers, civilians and their families. It is not intended to brush aside the sufferings and horrors of war. It is designed to remind people that historical perspective should be exercised every day of the year, not just when commemorating war. It is also designed to remind all Australians that patriotism is a vital component of ANZAC Day celebrations but it should not overshadow the original purpose of the day; to pay respect to individual soldiers, and to do everything possible to make sure war never happens again.

Image: http://www.abc.net.au

Underperforming team set to bring on reserves.

The starting team is failing. The run on team isn’t up to scratch. What do you do?

You give the reserves a chance.

You put on the replacement players, the ones who’ve been waiting for a chance to show what they can do. It might work, and the team might return to winning ways. It might not, but surely it’s worth a try.

It’s time to take the men off the field, and give women a chance. Men have ruled the world since time began, and the harsh reality is that the world is in a bad way. Man are dropping the ball, missing tackles, throwing forward passes, missing an open goal, and often show a complete lack of effort.

So why are they still on the field?

When sporting teams fail, starting players are replaced – some of them never return. The replacements are given a go, to see if they can fix the problems. Fans demand change. Managers and club bosses demand change. Sponsors demand change. Something always changes when a sporting team is performing poorly for an extended period of time.

If we demand such action for our favourite sporting teams, why are we not demanding the same of the leaders of our society? After all, sporting teams just play sport – it’s not that important. On the other hand, societal leaders, especially politicians, make laws and decisions which effect the daily lives of all of their constituents.

Having multiple women in genuine positions of power could solve some of the world’s biggest problems including overpopulation, environmental destruction, rising inequality, corporate greed, exploitation and human trafficking.

Overpopulation

Overpopulation is the biggest problem facing the world right now. Men cause population growth, and men have prevented it from being addressed. Men continue to stifle efforts to control population growth by standing in the way of methods such as the use of contraception, and the legalisation of abortion and assisted dying. Even suicide is illegal in many countries.

Acceptance and decriminalisation of same-sex relationships could limit population growth, because same-sex couples cannot naturally reproduce. Furthermore, it is known that fewer children are born into relationships with greater gender equality.

Interestingly, organised religions outlaw or criminalise many all of the actions which could limit population growth. Men control organised religions.

Human trafficking

Trafficked people can be male or female, adults or children. Many are forced into hard labour, many are forced into prostitution. Who runs the corporations which benefit from cheap labour? Usually men. Who uses the services of prostitutes? Usually men.

Environmental destruction

Corporate greed, as well as overpopulation, is driving environmental destruction. The climate crisis is causing extreme weather events, which can be disastrous or even deadly. The climate crisis has created environmental refugees and has reduced the amount of resources available to people, at the same time that the world is becoming more populated. Men run the corporations, and created the culture of greed which underpins the corporate world. Corporations and their leaders are obliged to return higher and higher margins of profit at every reporting period. Even business and finance experts agree that this can only be achieved either by acts of economic genius, or by the exploitation of the environment and/or people.

Business experts also argue that female directors can often adopt a different style of management.

It is well documented that during a recent economic downturn, major banks in Iceland suffered massive losses, and were threatened with closure. The economic meltdown was blamed on a banking and business culture that was labelled ‘buccaneering’ and ‘reckless’ – and was overwhelmingly male. The economy was rescued in large part by women.

Three women in particular were credited with boosting the economy. Halla Tómasdóttir and Kristin Petursdóttir are the founders of Audur Capital, and they teamed up with one of Iceland’s most famous names, the singer Bjork, to establish an investment fund that invested in green technology. They made a deliberate effort to incorporate female values into the world of private equity, wealth management and corporate advice. From all reports, it worked.

Iceland’s northern neighbour, Finland, is the origin of Women’s Bank, a fund that supports sustainable entrepreneurship and livelihood among women in developing countries.

According to the Women’s Bank;

“…gaining approval for women’s entrepreneurship is the most efficient way of decreasing poverty in the world, as women and girls often form a forgotten resource.”

Perhaps the best way to harness this resource is to place more women in charge.

Still in Finland, the country has recently earned the distinction of having the world’s youngest leader. Sanna Marin was 34 when elected as prime minister, and remains one of the few women to run a country. Many of her party colleagues are young and female. Is Finland prospering? It appears to be. A detailed analysis of the country’s performance is too lengthy for this article, but the country consistently performs highly in international standardised education tests.

Another young female national leader is Jacinda Ardern, the Prime Minister of New Zealand. New Zealand has almost returned to ‘normality’ after negotiating its way through the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s management of the pandemic is held up as world leading practice. Results that Scott Morrison, Donald Trump, Boris Johnson and Jair Bolsonaro could only dream of.

Jacinda Ardern is a woman. Jacinda Ardern got results. In contrast, Australia’s Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, responded to nationwide protests calling for an end to violence against woman by essentially telling protestors they should be grateful they didn’t get shot.

Is this goal realistic?

Mosuo and Scandinavian cultures prove that a society based on female empowerment can prosper.

Scandinavian societies traditionally enjoyed greater gender equality. Historical texts tell us that women carried out physical tasks alongside men, including hand to hand combat, and owned some of the land on which they worked. They ran a variety of independent businesses and were apparently able to keep the profits, and pass those profits onto their own children. Then this changed, and women were relegated to domestic roles and lost much of their independence. It is believed that this was largely due to the arrival of Christianity.

Mosuo women belong to a rare matriarchal society in Yunnan, south-west China. Apparently, Mosuo women are in charge, marriage does not exist and society follows a maternal bloodline. Men are called upon only for the act of reproduction and women own and inherit poperty.

Does it work?

Well, the system has been lived for thousands of years, and the Mosuo are surviving and prospering.

Great game in a losing team.

Of course. Not all men are performing poorly. Just like a sporting team, some men are doing a great job while those around them are failing. These starting players should be kept on the field when the reserves are brought on because they can be part of the change, part of the solution. Luckily, capable, qualified, skilled, dedicated, determined and proven reserves are ready to take their place of those who are not playing well.

Conversely, women need to be installed in positions of power in sufficient numbers. Individual women may be talented and capable, and some countries, states, provinces, organisations and corporations are led by women. But individual woman will struggle to make genuine change, and may only be able to, or interested in, perpetuating the cycle which caused so much damage to the world. Bringing on only one reserve when the team is being thrashed will not save the team – no matter how good that player is.

The ideal team is thus a combination of men and women who are capable and produce consistent results. A team selected by merit, not gender.

Men created and control the systems which have placed the world in such a precarious position. The systems need to change for a more optimistic future. Can those systems change while men are still in charge?

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

Why are dogs allowed in cafes?

Dogs are as common in Australian cafes these days as smashed avocado and freshly-ground coffee. But should they be?

Diners adhering to the latest social trend pile into cafes with their four-legged friends and potentially threaten the health of cafe staff and other diners.

Surely, pet dogs present a threat to hygiene standards, particularly in an age of heightened awareness since the outbreak of COVID-19. While humans are now required to check in via an app, and to sanitise their hands, dogs are not. Dogs don’t sanitise their paws before their owners take brunch, and a lot of these dogs have come straight from the park or the beach where they have been rolling around in the grass, the mud or the sand.

Dogs have a seat at the table.

Many owners even set their dog on a cafe chair to eat and drink with them. The dog’s posterior, which may have recently ejected a dropping and has never seen a bidet, is thus placed on a seat which a future patron will occupy. Cafes wipe down tables, and clean cutlery and crockery, but I don’t remember seeing waitstaff wiping down a seat at a cafe.

How is this hygienic?

How is it allowed during COVID-19?

Pet dogs definitely present a threat to health and hygiene in areas of food preparation and consumption. For this reason, they are technically prohibited from public food preparation areas, such as communal barbecue areas at parks and beaches.

But my dog is clean

Owners will claim that their dog is clean. It gets washed, goes to the vet and is healthy.

How do we know that?

Cafe staff and other customers have to take the owner’s word for it. Every other person using that cafe has to trust that every dog is clean and not likely to threaten the hygiene and safety of the eatery.

We do it at home

Dog owners will argue that they let their dogs into their kitchens and dining rooms at home, and that they let their dogs eat from their floor or their dinner plates, or straight from their hands. They argue that it is no different to a dog eating at a cafe.

It is different.

Owners accept the risk of contamination when they obtain a pet. Owners know exactly where the dog has been before it enters the kitchen or the dining room. Owners know when the dog was last washed. Owners can also control their dog and stop it from doing soemthing that might threaten someone else’s health or safety. Strangers can’t. Dogs won’t automatically obey directions of a stranger, and dog owners often react with horror when someone else tries to control their precious pooch.

Maybe the current pandemic is an opportunity to remind people that dogs don’t belong in cafes.

Image: 2PhotoPots

…no religion too…

Imagine there was no religion taught in Australian schools. Imagine removing religion from the curriculum of every school and thus removing the primary justification for the existence of private schools.

Why?

Private schools are detrimental to the Australia education system, and almost all private schools are faith-based.

How?

Ban compulsory lessons which teach students a particular faith and allow schools to only teach about religion, the way government schools currently approach the subject. Students at government schools currently receive instruction in their chosen faith only in lessons taught by religious specialists from outside the school, and only if their parents have chosen that option. The remaining students participate in other subjects. In contrast, religious education lessons at faith-based schools are compulsory.

Teach about religion.

Religion underpins Australian society. The Judeo-Christian world view informs our parliamentary and legal systems, so religion cannot and should not be ignored. History and Humanities subjects can still examine the role religion played in events such as colonisation and the Stolen Generation in Australia. Students can study, and even join, religious volunteer organisations like Vinnies and the Salvation Army. They can also research the Crusades and the Reformation, the conflict in the West Bank and Northern Ireland, and even the convergence of major religions in the court of Kublai Khan.

Is it possible to teach about religion without teaching religion?

Yes.

Government schools do it. Steiner schools do it, so do the small number of independent secular schools. I’ve done it. I had to explain the term BC to secondary students at a government school in Brunei, a country under strict Sharia law.

A module entitled ‘Belief Systems’ or ‘Faith’ could also present the broad principles of the world’s major religions, without instructing students to follow any of these systems of belief.

Would any fee-paying schools survive?

Yes. Non-religious private schools exist in Australia and include the following:

  • Steiner, Waldorf and Montessori schools.
  • International schools, such as International Grammar School in Sydney.
  • National schools, such as Japanese, French, German schools…
  • Schools such as Reddam House and Ascham in Sydney.

What if private schools dropped religion?

Many may survive. Reddam, after all, is famously non-religious and is entering its 21st year, while Ascham is one of the most prestigious girls schools in the country – for families who can afford it.

How are private schools detrimental?

Funding

Private schools continue to receive substantial government funding as well as contributions from the religious organisations which run them, plus fees from parents. The same religious organisations receive additional government funding – for being religious organisations, and enjoy tax concessions – for being religious organisations.

This reduces the funding provided to government schools, which are poorly resourced and struggle to offer a strong education to their students. An underfunded public education system produces an undereducated population, and this is bad for most of the country – most, but not all. A weakened public education system strengthens the private education system and offers an automatic head start to the students of private schools. So much for an egalitarian society.

Studies have indicated that the single biggest determinant of academic success in Australia is wealth. Thus, it is not surprising that the following attitudes exist among everyday Australians:

  • Private schools are better than public schools
  • People only send their children to public schools because they can’t afford private schools.
  • Private schools, especially Catholic schools, have better discipline.
  • Private schools are great for networking, which helps students secure employment later in life.

They’re not learning anyway.

Most students at Christian private schools know very little about their own faith. I can’t comment on Islamic or Jewish schools, because the majority of my teaching has been in government schools or Catholic and Protestant schools. Despite up to 12 years of instruction in one particular faith, most students will leave Christian schools with very little knowledge about the teachings of their own faith. So why should these Christian schools exist?

Australia is a secular society. Most students are not practising Christians, neither are their parents. Some students don’t belong to the faith of their school, nor do some of the teachers. Religious education is seen as the ‘bludge’ subject and very few parents ever book appointments with teachers of religion during Parent/Teacher interviews – but they all see the Maths teacher!

In fact, the dearth of religious knowledge among students at Christian private schools prompted a previous article on this site. The article proposes an independently administered exam in the faith of that school, to be sat by every student at that school (except K-2 students). If schools do not score an average of 80%, across the entire school, then they do not receive any government funding in the next round of funding distribution. They can only regain their funding when they score an average of 80% in the exam.

I am certain most Christian schools in Australia would not pass such an exam.

In addition, most Christian churches are largely empty during weekly church services, and Christmas and Easter are now a celebration of Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny. Most children are sent to private schools because they are ‘better than the local public school’. Furthermore, the religious education subject is often given to (or forced upon) young teachers or new teachers at Christian schools, who can only ‘off-load’ the subject once they’ve proven themselves in their core subjects.

Australia is a secular country, and yet almost all of its private schools are religious.

Single-sex education

Most private schools are still single-sex. In 2021. Some have become wholly or partly co-educational, but most cling to their single-sex traditions. This can be beneficial to some of the students, depending on which educational theorist you read, but is it beneficial to society?

Students at single-sex schools miss the opportunity to mix daily with members of the opposite sex, but are suddenly forced to do so when they enter the real world. Moreover, some exclusive private schools still provide boarding. Thus, students study and live among their own gender, for up to 12 years. This informs their world view, and many of these students, especially boys, become leaders of society and make decisions which directly affect the lives of every Australian.

We are still suffering the results of this phenomena.

Attorney General Christian Porter was recently accused of historical rape. He was never found guilty, but was exposed for infidelity and sleazy behaviour with young female members of his staff, in a public bar near Parliament House. Porter attended Hale School in Perth. He and the remainder of his party have refused to allow an independent inquiry into his behaviour, which many Australians see as a disregard for the victim of the alleged rape and to women in general. The revelations prompted widespread protests throughout the nation calling for greater gender equality.

The response from the government has been appalling, and continues to inflame the conflict. Most of the politicians responsible for the response are male, and most attended single-sex, faith-based, private schools.

This follows the very public and misogynistic behaviour of students from two of Melbourne’s most exclusive boys private schools, Wesley College and St Kevin’s. It also follows allegations of a culture of rape and sexual abuse of girls by boys from Sydney’s most exclusive private schools, which was recently revealed in the mainstream media. An online petition signed by thousands of former private school girls alleges sexual assault by private school boys, and calls for greater focus on consent in sex education lessons delivered to boys. The creator of the petition, Chanel Contos, claims the culture of rape in Sydney is the worst she witnessed, despite having lived in two other countries.

Recent articles by Mike Seccombe in The Saturday Paper, and from respected child and adolescent psychologist Michael Carr-Gregg, do not blame private schools for the toxic masculinity that pervades Australian society. They do, however, concede that they are a contributing factor.

Restricted curriculum

Religious schools present a restricted curriculum. Religious doctrine determines their teaching of science, gender, sexuality and other social issues. Future leaders carry this particular world view into politics and make judgements based on that world view. Our government and business leaders have also grown up in a world in which religious chaplains replace qualified counsellors at schools.

Where will students learn religion?

At home.

Place the onus on parents to provide their children with a religious education, either entirely at home or at institutions like Sunday School. The classes would take place outside of school hours and receive no government funding.

How can students learn morality?

At home.

Religious devotees of all faiths often argue that a non-religious person cannot learn morality. The boys at St Kevin’s, Wesley College and Hale clearly did not learn morality. The male politicians in the LNP, most of whom attended faith-based, single-sex private schools, show no evidence of moral learning. It is clear that notions of gender, class and racial superiority took precedence over values such as compassion, morality, respect, tolerance and service, for students of these private schools.

Is this article just religion bashing?

No.

Religion bashing is certainly on trend in Australia, but this article is not targeting religion per se. The article cites religion as the primary justification for the existence of most private schools in the country, and nominates private schooling as the problem.

A precedent

Private schools are rare or non-existent in countries such as Finland, Japan, South Korea, Singapore and Scandinavian countries. Singapore does have private schools, but these cater mostly for international/expat children. These same countries consistently top the rankings in international standardised exams. Experts suggest there is a correlation. When almost every child is forced to attend their local government school, every parent has a strong vested interest in the quality of that school. Thus, parents put pressure on the government to maintain high standards at local government schools, and hold the politicians and schools accountable. In addition, the people who make the decisions about school funding and educational standards, politicians, also send their children to government schools.

In Finland, apparently it is illegal to charge fees for a child’s education.

One must also point to the culture of these countries, not just the lack of private schools. Academic achievement is highly regarded in countries such as Japan, South Korea and Singapore, and this explains their success. The countries themselves are also far from perfect. Enormous pressure is placed on students in some Asian countries and this can have disastrous effects on young people That said, Australia can learn something from these countries as literacy and numeracy rates continue to fall throughout the nation.

What happens next?

What would happen if schools were prevented from teaching religion in Australia? What would happen to the schools?

Schools could drop religion and remain private. Many parents would not remove their children, because we’ve already established that most parents don’t send their children to private schools for a religious education, but for a better general education.

If private schools are not religious, religious organisations have no reason to fund them. They may run into financial ruin, at which point they would be taken over by the government and become public schools. Parents could leave their children in that school, or seek another private school and compete with other parents for limited spaces.

If existng private school parents were forced to send their children to a public school, they would put more pressure on the government and educational authorities to adequately fund and resource the school and to ensure strong academic outcomes. More parents would have a vested in in quality public education, just as they do in countries such as Finland, Japan and Singapore, and governments would have no choice but to allocate more resources and care to public education.

Not only would parents demand adequate funding for their child’s school, but children from different social backgrounds would attend the same schools, and this has been found to create greater empathy between all groups in society, including those who formulate laws.

Where will they find the money?

The money to fund public education exists. Much of it is currently being directed to private schools, some of it is sitting in government coffers waiting to be spent on projects which will win votes at the next election. If there were fewer private schools in Australia, public education would become one of those central issues which could determine the outcome of an election.

The main obstacle to adequate funding of public education is political will, and religion.

Images: Element5Digital, http://www.pridelife.com.

Huge shock for Cronulla fans at start of 2021 season.

Cronulla Sharks fans have reacted with horror to the news that they are the most gullible fans in rugby league after it was discovered that their No. 1 ticket holder is an imposter.

And all it took was a beer, a smirk and a baseball cap.

On the morning of the NRL season kick-off, news has broken that Prime Minister Scott Morrison fooled the club into thinking that he supports the pride of The Shire. Morrison is seen at most home games wearing team merchandise, and his customary smirk, surrounded by adoring and naive fans who genuinely believed he is one of them – until today.

News broke that Morrison actually grew up in the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney in the heartland of the Sydney Roosters. He also attended Sydney Boys High School, which is part of the Greater Public Schools network and only plays Rugby Union. What’s more, he declared himself a fan of the Western Bulldogs Aussie Rules team and stated that AFL is a “great game” and the AFL grand final is the “greatest show in Oz”.

Not only does the prime minister sport his Sharkies gear at home games, but even during his many photo opportunities and marketing videos broadcast to the Australian population.

Morrison only started publicly supporting Cronulla when he became the member for Cook. Sources have also suggested that Morrison only won Liberal preselection for the seat after News Limited ran a dirty smear campaign against long-standing Liberal member, and his opponent, Michael Towke.

Towke was also born in the east, but had lived in The Shire for many years, and was actively involved in many local organisations. Furthermore, Towke won the first preselection ballot in 2007, and polled 10 times as many votes as Morrison, 82 votes to 8. Morrison was eliminated in the first round. The Daily Telegraph then published four articles which heavily criticised Towke, even suggesting that he could be sent to jail.

Yet Sharks fans clap and cheer their famous fan as he cradles a beer in the stands at Shark Park.

A long and ugly defamation case ensued, and News Limited eventually settled with Towke out of court. The saga was revealed in the Sydney Morning Herald, and later in the St George and Sutherland Shire Leader, and apparently News Limited offered The Leader a $110,000 payment to stop the story from going to print. It seems Rupert Murdoch wanted no bad marks against his selection for future prime minister.

A second preselection ballot was held, and Morrison was chosen to lead the Liberal party in The Shire. This is how Scott Morrison came to be the federal member for The Shire, and how he came to be the No.1 ticket holder for the Sharks.

Rupert Murdoch had chosen his man, and it was Morrison – not an Australian of Lebanese heritage. A few years later, Murdoch would send instructions for Malcolm Turnbull to be removed as leader of the Coalition, and replaced by Morrison.

But Sharks fans don’t see this, or don’t want to. The man they know as ScoMo drinks beer and wears the black, white and blue.

They cheer a man who marked International Women’s Day in 2019 by saying that women should not rise in society at the expense of men. The man who took a holiday in Hawaii while the country burned through horrific bushfires. The man who protects alleged rapists and has overseen scandals involving Sport Rorts, the destruction of the Murray-Darling basin and Robodebt. They also support a man who cut funding to aged care services while he was Treasurer. By the time today’s Sharks fans need aged care services, will Scott Morrison still be pretending to support the Sharks?

In fact, the strongest proof that Morrison may truly care about Sharks victories is his famous visit to Engadine Maccas after Cronulla won the grand final in 2016.

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