“I think Malcolm is the kind of person that should have been prime minister of Australia: urbane, highly intellectual, successful, broad, visionary, clever, articulate, funny, charming, everything that a modern leader and a modern prime minister should be.
“And I found it very disappointing that too many of my colleagues didn’t see in Malcolm what I saw and still see in Malcolm.”
Defence Minister Christopher Pyne has linked his damning verdict on the state of Australian politics to the overthrow of Malcolm Turnbull last August, accusing his own colleagues of bowing to “irrational pressure” from “shouty” commentators and warning this is now an entrenched problem.
He refused to define the “shouty press”, saying: “That’ll just ruin the rest of my life. I don’t need that.”
The education minister and conservative commentator tangled on television as Bolt refused to toe the Coalition line, denying his role was to help the government get re-elected
Christopher Pyne has rebuked colleagues for backgrounding the media about the Coalition’s current political woes – but has been rebuked in turn by the conservative commentator Andrew Bolt for implying the broadcaster and blogger was helping the Abbott government with its task of re-election.
Underscoring the scrappy end to the parliamentary year, the education minister fronted the Bolt Report on Sunday morning with an explicit appeal for party unity.
The past three weeks has been characterised by strategic missteps and by damaging internal leaks about Cabinet tensions. Pyne’s argument on Sunday morning was colleagues should hold their tongues – not fuel the media’s appetite for stories about disunity because journalists were not “trying to help the government be re-elected.”
Pyne made an honourable exception for Bolt, his host.
“What my colleagues need to understand is they are advocates for the government’s agenda, they are not background commentators for the media,” Pyne told Bolt.
“They also need to understand that – present company excepted of course – the media are not trying to help the government be re-elected, they are trying to get a story, therefore disunity is always a story.”
Bolt looked distinctly nonplussed with Pyne’s inference about his motivations.
He told his guest he was not, in fact, trying to get the government “re-elected” – he was trying to “get a better performance”.
The two tangled again during the interview, when Bolt asked his guest to shed more light on why the prime minister had despatched the trade minister Andrew Robb to oversee the foreign minister Julie Bishop at climate negotiations in Lima.
Pyne told Bolt that Robb had not been despatched by anyone but was, in fact, going to the climate change talks because he was already in the region in order to pursue negotiations around the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
The education minister insisted that contrary to some reports, Robb’s task in South America was not to chaperone Bishop at the climate conference and make sure that Australia didn’t overcommit on new emissions reduction commitments. He was just in the neighbourhood.
Pyne also pointed out that Bishop was actually the senior portfolio minister, so if anything, she was chaperoning Robb.
Bolt rebuked Pyne again.
“You are denying what I know is a fact,” the broadcaster declared.
“I certainly am,” Pyne replied. “Julie Bishop doesn’t need help from anyone. That’s been proven in the last 15 months.”
When he wasn’t tangling with his host, Pyne used the interview to encourage his colleagues to stay the course. He conceded the government had finished 2014 “in a slightly ragged position but we still have two years to go before an election is due”.
Pyne said many of the current political flashpoints would be gone over the next couple of years.
It was not entirely clear from his remarks whether one of the flashpoints he was consigning to the past tense was his higher education package, rejected by the Senate. “Many of the issues running now will be bedded down over the course of the next two years and I think we’ll have a very different end to next year than we’ve had to this year.”
The education minister said the Coalition just had to keep “ploughing on with our messages” and he added “forward momentum [was a] great salve”.
Bolt zeroed in on the treasurer Joe Hockey, who has been the recipient of some of the negative internal backgrounding over the past few weeks, and also the focal point of some of the negative commentary from conservative quarters outside the government.
Bolt wondered what Hockey could do to win greater confidence from his colleagues. Pyne said Hockey enjoyed his confidence, and the confidence of colleagues within the government.
The education minister also defended the contribution of another Coalition player who has been the target of negative commentary recently – Tony Abbott’s chief of staff, Peta Credlin.
Bolt thought Credlin might need a better communications manager. Pyne thought not.
The education minister noted Credlin had done a “superb” job and his desire was that she stay and do “even better into the future”.
Deregulating university fees will penalise students with learning disorders, increase inequality and send Australia backwards as a nation, writes Tim Lubcke.
On the way to work this morning, as I write this, I heard Christopher Pyne again defending the deregulation of university fees on ABC local radio. I had to switch stations. It seems to me that those in favour of it have lived a fairly benign existence and are honestly unable to see how much they risk undermining further Australian prosperity.
I know what it’s like to come at education with an irregular brain.
I was perhaps six or seven when a teacher slid the piece of paper in front of me. It was the first test of my schooling life.
When he told us to turn over the page and begin, what would dominate the next 15 years of my life came crashing home. The page was unintelligible. I just didn’t get what was being asked of me. It was like being handed a foreign language with everyone around you expecting you to understand it.
I panicked and after some time, broke down. More than two-and-a-half decades later, I still vividly remember that moment.
Dictation was by far the most difficult task I experienced over those early years, however it wasn’t isolated to one subject. Year after year teachers lamented to my parents about my “stubbornness” in class and refusal to learn. One teacher said it looked as though I wrote with my feet.
If it wasn’t for the sanctuary of the private world of my bedroom, I would have believed that I was stupid, as I was being told in school. At least in that one place – and the support of my parents with text books and equipment – I could learn about the natural world, and play with electronics and basic mechanics.
From that, I knew that I was able, but needed to learn by myself.
By the time I looked towards tertiary education, in my early 20’s, an astute teacher recognised the traits of dyslexia. She insisted that I was tested, which confirmed as much. While some suggestions came of it ‒ such as using computers rather than hand writing ‒ the central point was that I had learnt how to learn for myself.
Successfully landing a place in a degree in environmental science, I was not a great student. In the first couple of years, I passed with the occasional credit. Yet when I was given autonomy in my final year of the courses, that’s when I began to prove my value.
Dyslexia is nothing more than a story of a square peg and around hole. When I was able to define my working style, I could flourish.
Since the completion of my degree, I’ve gone on to demonstrate my value.
Although I completed a degree focused on ecology, I quickly moved towards data management, and technical project development and maintenance. I’ve designed a number of automated data validation and analysis packages, project databases, websites, remote research facilities and portable chemistry devices.
Again, it has been in those roles where I have been granted autonomy that I’ve added the most value in environmental research.
The discussions regarding the deregulation of university fees, however, I recognised would have stopped me entirely from pursuing this path.
Schooling has been hard and completely unenjoyable from start to finish in my case. I went on because I saw the value to my career. That value would be lost if I had acquired debt that I would live with for decades; seven years on, I have just under half of my HECS debt remaining as it is.
I’ve also heard talk in interviews from senior figures of various universities suggesting that deregulated university fees would allow them to provide a range of scholarships to students from humble backgrounds. That sounds nice, but I know that an unremarkable dyslexic student such as I was would be extremely unlikely to receive this particular boost.
I come from a working class family, where I am the only one to have even completed secondary education. I am very conscious of debt and how debilitating it can be.
I can confidently say that I would not be where I am today if Howard deregulated university at the turn of the century prior to my application to my course.
Earlier this year, I wrote about the failing green sector — something that has led me to contemplate my career path and indeed the possibility of completing another degree to move into a more secure career. Yet, I am unwilling to start something that might grow in exponential cost as I go further along the course. Uncertainty has left me in limbo.
Deregulation of university fees strips the Aussie fair go from education and I feel for my children, who would be stuck with very difficult choices as young adults.
The value of a candidate is impossible to define on purely academic measures, as I hope my career thus far illustrates. Moreover, with the recent passing of Gough Whitlam, we are reminded just how much it changed the lives of Australian’s (especially women) in opening the doors to universities in the 1970’s through free education
Debt is debt and the most responsible students will be wary to take on too much of it. We risk generations of hardworking, diligent students avoiding such debt and in turn, growing skills shortage which inevitably will take us backwards as a nation.
If there was one thing our former PM Julia Gillard was passionate about it was education, but like so many other great reforms of the previous 6 years, the Abbott government seems determined to vandalise our education system as well. As if its well publicised attacks on higher education weren’t enough, the coalition has just published a report recommending greater emphasis on ‘morals, values and spirituality’ and ‘the contribution of western civilisation’ in the national curriculum. As a student of history this fills me with dread. The word ‘fascist’ is often used loosely, but the early indoctrination of children is quite literally straight out of Mussolini’s playbook
Not only Mussolini’s but akin to the Islamic Madrasas of today that simply teach a heaven based ideology that requires little more than rules to achieve Nirvana.
Of course moral crusaders of the calibre of Bernardi and Abetz probably see themselves as having a mission to uphold the moral standards of our society, even as they go about trying to degrade our real values. Tolerance, understanding, generosity, and egalitarianism are things of which we all should be proud, both as a nation and as individuals. These are the true moral standards we should be teaching our young. Instead we have a government which encourages bigotry, divisiveness, racial hatred and fear. Pathetic, ignorant and cruel are but a few adjectives which come to mind.
If we could rid ourselves of war within a generation by giving children everywhere a sound, publically funded, secular, science-based education which promotes humanist values. While social engineering on this scale is well out of the ambit of this (or any) government’s short sighted vision, it’s wholly unsurprising that Abbott, Pyne and co should want to shift the emphasis in education away from critical thinking and back to the ‘three r’s’, anyway from human geography and back to physical geography, away from multiculturalism and back to Judeo-Christian orthodoxy.
Some will argue that wars are always waged by the rich and fought by the poor, and certainly there is evidence that the military industrial complex exists to serve its own ends anyway (or that of the bankers). But what happens when soldiers refuse to fight? Notwithstanding the horrors of a war which claimed 10 million lives and left 20 million casualties, it’s worth remembering that WWI might have been fought to the last man had the Kaiser’s troops not mutinied. Imagine if they’d all refused to go to war in the first place? There is no greater threat to tyranny than a well informed and educated populus.
THE CABIN ANTHRAX, MURPHY, N.C. (CT&P) – After analyzing the results of a new Pew Research Center poll conducted just last week, experts have concluded that the United States is not yet ready for a democratic form of government. The finding is particularly troubling considering the midterms are less than one week away.
“It looks as if we are in real trouble,” said Dr. Frank Black, who headed the Pew Research team. “There are just too many people out there who don’t possess enough innate intelligence to function in everyday life, much less determine their own fate by voting for their own representatives.”
“We found that only 32% of Americans believe that evolution is ‘due to natural processes such as natural selection,’ and fully one-third of Americans are so stupid that they utterly reject the theory of evolution and believe instead that humans ‘have existed in their present form since the beginning of time.’”
“And that is only one example,” continued Black. “The American public’s lack of basic scientific knowledge is mind-boggling.”
“Only 20% of Americans believe in the ‘Big Bang,’ only 50% believe in climate change, and an overwhelming number of Americans want to ban incoming flights from Africa because of the Ebola crisis when most American citizens have no fucking clue what a virus even is.”
“Hell, do you realize that fully 40% of Americans think that they are going to be lifted up into heaven in some sort of Rapture event? It’s really depressing.”
“The state of affairs is equally miserable when it comes to progressive government policy. America has had to be dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century as regards gay marriage, equal pay for women, immigration, and sane firearms policies.”
“Given the recent track record, whole swathes of the United States should really not be allowed to vote,” said Black. “The rise of the Tea Party to prominence in recent years should make that obvious. Take Texas and Florida for example. When a one state elects a dolt like Rick Perry and the other an ancient Aztec snake god as governor, we have real problems.”
Dr. Black suggested that since America was not yet ready for any type of representative government that possibly the best alternative would be some form of benign dictatorship.
“If we could get someone in the White House who would dissolve Congress and ratchet up public education to at least Third World standards, then that would be a good start,” said Black. “The money is there if we could just redirect it. Instead of invading Muslim countries every other week, we could use some of those trillions to teach our offspring some basic science, civics, and history. It will be a long, hard slog, but I think the future of North America depends on it. After all, do we really want half of our kids believing that we are being observed by aliens in UFO’s? I don’t think so.”
Recent times have seen heated debates in Australia about whether higher education tuition fees should be deregulated, and about the private/public benefits of higher education. A question that goes to the heart of these debates is whether higher education is primarily considered as a social institution, as an industry like any other, or as infrastructure.
The recent decision to eradicate all tertiary fees in Germany provides interesting points of comparison between how Australia and Germany view education.
Higher education as industry
In Australia, recent decades have seen a considerable shift toward conceiving of higher education primarily in terms of an “industry”. As part of this change, universities have become increasingly regarded as corporate organisations competing in the local and international service economy.
At the same time, the perception of universities as social institutions providing orientation to society has waned. In line with this shift in perceptions, the relative public funding provided to universities has suffered a continuing reduction. In 2012, less than 50% on average of the revenue of “public” higher education providers came from Australian government sources.
Higher education as infrastructure
In Germany, the purpose of higher education has likewise become in recent times increasingly framed in terms of more practical economic goals and concerns.
But in Germany, in contrast with Australia, the political push for a more practical, economically oriented view of higher education is not so much centred on the notion of universities becoming corporate organisations competing in a marketplace. Rather, in current German politics and policies, universities tend to be primarily regarded as vital infrastructure for the economy at large.
This difference in how the economic role of universities is framed in each country translates into different approaches to core policy issues such as funding, tuition fees and internationalisation.
In Germany, as has been recently noted in The Conversation, even low-level tuition fees have proven to be rather unpopular. As a result, all German states have eventually scrapped all fees. Moreover, there still is a relative consensus in the political arena that it is the government’s responsibility to provide the bulk of funding to universities. German universities receive around 90% of their funds from the public purse.
Attracting international students
Over recent years, Germany has become increasingly proactive in attracting international students to its higher education institutions. A particular focus has been on attracting students from China and India. According to the 2014 Trends in International Student Mobility survey, Germany’s popularity as a destination for international students has been growing very rapidly, and has recently overtaken that of Australia.
The primary motive for this push toward internationalisation in German higher education has been the need to tackle shortages of skilled labour. A related concern has been addressing long-term demographic developments. There are no tuition fees for international students in Germany. This is not likely to change in the near future, partially due to legal constraints imposed by the German constitution.
By contrast, Australian universities have been attracting international students, very successfully to date, mainly in order to compensate for the reduction of public funding from the Australian government.
Different funding models
Overall, the framing of higher education in terms of infrastructure may be one of the reasons for there being less reluctance in Germany to provide substantial public funding to universities than there has been in Australia. It also may partially explain why, in Germany, the debate concerning the public and/or private benefits of higher education, which we have become accustomed to in Australia, has had hardly any traction whatsoever.
The framing of higher education as industry in Australia has led to universities successfully diversifying their funding sources. As a result, universities have become less reliant on the public purse. However, it has also come at the cost of major higher education policies and institutional strategies in Australia often lacking a long-term vision. Moreover, it has led to the creation of a higher education sector in Australia that is heavily exposed to risks associated with the international student market.
I recently read an article by Miranda Divine titled ‘Why the Libs are Ruddy marvelous’. It outlines the academic qualifications of government members. It is truly impressive. They must be the brainiest bunch to have ever graced our parliament.
“For starters, there are three Rhodes Scholars: Abbott, Malcolm Turnbull, and Angus Taylor. Two more ministers have degrees from Oxford University: George Brandis QC, and Josh Frydenberg, who has the added distinction of a master’s degree from Harvard. Two other MPs also have master’s degrees from Harvard, among the seven MBAs, two MPAs and four PhDs on the government benches. Two more have masters of philosophy from Cambridge. Fulbright scholar Greg Hunt has an MA from Yale. Former WA treasurer Christian Porter has an impressive four degrees. And he’s a backbencher”.
And it doesn’t end there. Read this. She of course failed to mention that it is essentially a men’s club. Or that Brandis cannot use a computer.
Now let’s look at what a Queens College Oxford education has done for our Prime Minister:
“We just can’t stop people from being homeless if that’s their choice”.
“Jesus knew that there was a place for everything and it’s not necessarily everyone’s place to come to Australia”.
“If we’re honest, most of us would accept that a bad boss is a little bit like a bad father or a bad husband … you find that he tends to do more good than harm. He might be a bad boss but at least he’s employing someone while he is in fact a boss”.
“I think it would be folly to expect that women will ever dominate or even approach equal representation in a large number of areas simply because their aptitudes, abilities and interests are different for physiological reasons”.
Statements like the aforementioned (often embedded with religious intent)) are devoid of social empathy and are reflective of thinking that has been influenced by notions of dim-witted superiority. They are the words of a ruler not a leader. They are an indictment of both Abbott and his ministry.
They are statements of the uncaring, the intellectually barren, the cerebraly deficient, the privileged and the narcissistic elitist.
Of the born to rule with ideals of grandeur.
We are experiencing something very unique in Australian politics. A belief that lying has approval, that deception and misleading words will and can persuade the electorate to your view. A belief that there are enough people so politically naive that they will believe you. And that’s the majority of Australians.
It’s straight out of the Conservative Tea Party Handbook. This is deliberate ‘’foot in mouth disease’’ with intentional consequences. There is a pattern and they have been persuaded it works.
“Of course I would have read The Gonski Report had the dog not eaten it”.
Tony Abbott. Prime Minister. “I will shirtfront Putin”. “Coal is good for humanity”.
George Brandis. Attorney General. “People have a right to be bigots”.
Eric Abetz Employment Minister. “Abortion causes breast cancer”.
Christopher Pyne. Minister for Education. “Uni fee hikes wont impact women because they don’t study expensive degrees like law or dentistry”.
Mathias Cormann. Finance Minister. “Bill Shorten is an economic girlie-man”.
Racism and religious bigotry is rife and the division in society is being actively contributed to by the Abbott Government.
Racism and bigotry like Spurr’s is a cancer eating at the core of Australian society, tearing us apart from within — and will only get worse while our Government tries to whitewash our history and heritage. Barry Spurr — an advocate for the removal of Indigenous literature from the curriculum in the interests of promoting the Judeo-Christian literature because, after all, that is our “culture”.
Sydney University has, quite rightly, suspended Mr Spurr while an investigation is undertaken.Christopher Pyne’s education review remains implicitly supported by the education minister — who refuses to reconsider Spurr’s review of the English curriculum and, indeed, explicitly supports his reviewer’s stance on the supremacy of Australia’s Judeo-Christian heritage.
Government is whitewashing the curriculum and focussing solely on the Indigenous culture as a fixture in history rather than a living, breathing, developing cultural reality.
In short, it is clear that the Government supports the underlying bigotry and white supremacist views of Barry Spurr. It seeks to repudiate history by rewriting and sanitising the atrocities committed against the Indigenous people in order to maintain their covert policy of assimilation and covert racism.
The Government is asking you to be vigilant (read: fearful) of terrorism, whilst instructing the media to release images of citizens that prescribe to the Islamic faith; it is asking us to get on board with “Team Australia” — meaning assimilate to the Judeo-Christian ‘culture’.
The man maybe a joke but what he thinks laughs at aren’t. What if whimsy was pedophile?
Chris Graham, editor of New Matilda, which broke the story, described the emails as extreme hate-speech.
“He doesn’t just object to Aboriginal people who he calls Abos and human garbage, he makes references to ‘Mussies’; ‘Chinky-poos’ is a word that he uses frequently; he’s very dismissive of women,” Mr Graham told the ABC.
The emails were written over the past two years and sent to senior academics and officials within the university.
One said “Abo-lover” Mr Abbott would have to be surgically separated from his “Siamese Twin”, Australian of the Year Adam Goodes.
He also said Sydney University Chancellor Belinda Hutchinson was an “appalling minx”, while other women were “whores”.
A group of up to 100 students protested outside Professor Spurr’s office today, demanding his sacking.
Professor says emails part of a game
Professor Spurr, a specialist in poetry and poetics who has been at the university for 38 years, defended the emails and told New Matilda they were mainly to one recipient and were part of a “whimsical” game to outdo one another in extreme statements.
He said they were in no way a reflection of his views.The University of Sydney said it was “deeply disturbed” by the emails and was investigating the matter.
Australian Education Union federal president Angelo Gavrielatos said someone with such outdated ideas should never have been chosen to review the national English curriculum.
“The review is ostensibly about restoring balance to an imbalanced curriculum,” he said.
“These views are hardly the views that one would describe as balanced.”
Race Discrimination Commissioner Tim Soutphommasane was worried the emails might also reflect the way the academic behaves.
“It does raise questions about whether this will translate into unfair treatment of others,” Mr Soutphommasane said.
“People may well think that racism is just a whimsical game of words, but ultimately it’s something that wounds others.”
Gabrielle Pei Tiatia, Ethnic Affairs Officer with the University of Sydney’s Students Representative Council, called on the university’s Vice-Chancellor to sack Professor Spurr immediately.
Undergraduate Student Fellow of the University Senate, Patrick Massarani, doubted there was any reasonable explanation for the comments.
“I’m exceptionally disappointed in having seen the comments that have been made,” he said.
“As a student, I do wonder how somebody who could make these comments could be placed in any sort of pastoral care role within the university.”
Our new laws on terror certainly believe ideology Islam, Marxism, Racism influence a persons thinking. ASIO certainly doesn’t regard it as whimsical or a game. They believe it needs to be taken very seriously. Andrew Bolt would are up in alms at the whimsy climate alarmists will bring to the ABC review board. It’s no joke to the right wing critics of the ABC. This is a far more serious a matter to be called a joke
Education Minister Christopher Pyne describes ANU decision to ditch mining company investments as ‘bizarre’
“For one of [our] leading research institutions to come out and publicly attack them, with no opportunity to respond, does seem not just bizarre, but is quite outrageous behaviour and of course the Government is watching this.”
Minister not just one but the best of our universities. It’s so far in advance of where you came from, Adelaide. It has made a 5% portfolio change and your throwing fuel on what was a damp match. Do you deserve your position Minister? Your Party obviously doesn’t operate as a team or you would have shut the wannabe heard,Jamie BriggsMP down, oops!!
Reputational problems only exist when things are fueled and sure enough between you and Briggs that is now burning. But what a coincidence this is going to be put down to Joe. It is Joe’s fault. Shit his autobiography did create a stir didn’t it so much so he seems as popular as Peter Slipper now. Tony really does want Joe Hockey politically dead.
“A university like ANU invests its funds for the betterment of its stakeholders, our staff, our students, our alumni,” Professor Young said
“Just a like a super fund needs to respond to what its investors want, a university like ours needs to respond to those stakeholders.”
“We actually developed a socially responsible investment policy, modelled on the policy of Stamford University, one of the leaders in this area,” he said.
This is one of the universities you modeled the current changes on. Andrew Bolt seriously hates these subsidized institutions filled and run by the Socialist Left he wants to be on the board as he never made it past first year.
Professor Young said the university had been overwhelmed by the positive response from the community on its new investment policy.
“It’s been very eye opening for me to see the volume of support that the university as received from people right across the country,” he said.
Student group Fossil Free ANU were supportive of the policy, but urged the vice-chancellor to go further by committing to full fossil fuel divestment.
There is strong evidence showing Chinese universities are moving rapidly up the world university rankings, however there are still no Chinese universities in the top 100.
During the last decade Australian universities have also moved up the world university rankings.
It’s unclear how much universities would charge after the Government’s proposed deregulation, and whether universities would spend money on measures that would make them more internationally competitive.
On the available evidence, without Mr Pyne’s reforms, it seems unlikely Australian universities will slide into mediocrity.
Mr Pyne’s claim is far-fetched.