Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Rudd avoids upsetting middle Australia again

The Labor party has been successful in Australia because it avoids creating alienated constituencies -- and any disrespect for Austalia's greatest cricket hero would have been remembered angrily by many. Rudd is even patron of a gun club in his electorate, so even gun enthusiasts cannot complain about him! His stance on the so-called "stolen generation" is also moderate -- fine words but no money

Kevin Rudd has declared "The Don is safe" ruling out a push to dump a question on Sir Donald Bradman from Australia¨s citizenship test. Claiming political interference from former prime minister John Howard, a self-confessed cricket tragic, Labor sources had indicated they were keen to target the cricket question under a review of the citizenship test. A stunning 93 per cent of migrants who have sat for the test in the last three months have passed with flying colours.

Mr Rudd used an appearance on the Sunrise breakfast program today to rule out any move to axe the question on Sir Don from the Australia test. "The Don is safe," Mr Rudd said. But Mr Rudd said today: "I'm unaware of any plans on our part to give The Don the axe - I'm not lining up in that camp." The question asks who is Australia's greatest cricketer and provides a choice between Sir Donald Bradman, (cyclist) Sir Hubert Opperman and (billiards player) Walter Lindrum.

Mr Rudd has also ruled out establishing a compensation fund for indigenous Australians' stolen generation under his plan to deliver a formal apology when Parliament resumes. The Prime Minister confirmed this morning he planned to deliver on his promise to offer a formal apology in the first sitting of Parliament, which resumes in a fortnight. "The intention is to build this bridge of respect between indigenous and non-indigenous Australia," Mr Rudd told the Seven network. "The judgment I have made is ... let's get this symbolic act of apology right and then let's move on together. Both symbols and substance are important - that's the truth of it."

However, he ruled out offering cash compensation, which some activists have warned is crucial to delivering an apology with real meaning. "We will not be establishing any compensation funds," Mr Rudd said.


Citizenship test a 'stunning' success

Hmmmm... I am not sure I agree with the criterion for success here. Is a test that everyone passes of much use? Maybe so in the circumstances but what the test requires and what it brings about would surely be more important criteria for its "success"

FEARS the citizenship test is unfair to migrants have been proved unfounded by a review showing a stunning 93 per cent pass rate. Indians and Filipinos are doing far better on the exam than Brits and New Zealanders. But a high number of newcomers from war-torn states, most of them refugees, are struggling to get through the quiz, according to an analysis released last night. The study indicates that migrants keen to get citizenship are swotting up on their new country and taking the test seriously.

Immigration Minister Chris Evans said the Government wanted to ensure the test was not a barrier to migrants in need of support. But he said: "The test can play a valuable role in helping new citizens understand the rights and responsibilities of citizenship."

It was introduced by the former government to "assist" people who want to become Australians understand "Australian values, traditions, history and national symbols". The test, which started on October 1, has to be taken by migrants aged 18-60, before they apply for citizenship.

The Department of Immigration review from October to the end of December found 92.9 per cent passed on their first or subsequent attempts. Candidates are allowed as many attempts as they want. But there were some surprises:

The lowest failure rate was 0.9 per cent for the 338 South African applicants, followed by just 1.1 per cent for the 634 from India, and 1.9 per cent for the 254 from the Philippines. The 1103 British migrants had a 2.26 per cent failure rate, and the 282 New Zealanders, 2.8 per cent. Skilled migrants, who made up 44 per cent of the 9043 people from 172 countries who sat the test, had the best pass rate of 97 per cent, and family reunion migrants, 21.6 per cent of participants had a 90 per cent success rate. However, for migrants here on humanitarian grounds [Mostly Africans] the success rate fell to 80 per cent.


The old alliance continues

Foreign Minister Stephen Smith has stressed Australia's commitment to the US alliance at the Rudd Government's first official meeting with the Bush administration. Mr Smith also reaffirmed Australia's plan to withdraw its combat troops from Iraq in the first half of this year. But he promised US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, during a meeting in Washington, that Australia would try to minimise disruption from the pull-out, offering to consider stepping up civilian aid and expertise.

Mr Smith formally outlined the Government's plan to withdraw the 550-strong Overwatch Battle Group when its rotation in Iraq ends. "That's being done ... in a way to minimise, to absolutely minimise any disruption or difficulty," he said in a joint news conference with Dr Rice. "I don't think for one moment think that that in any way has any capacity to disturb either the good working relationship between the current administration and the new Australian Government, nor to be anything of any significance in terms of a long-standing, enduring alliance." The "indispensable" alliance between the US and Australia transcended governments and administrations, Mr Smith said.

Australia would also consider increasing civilian support to Iraq such as rebuilding infrastructure and helping to support the country's fledgling government. The Rudd Government plans to withdraw most of its frontline troops, but will leave hundreds of troops in supporting roles. Mr Smith also reaffirmed the Government's commitment to assisting in the rebuilding of Afghanistan, where more than 1000 Australian troops are stationed. He told Dr Rice that Australia was particularly concerned about Afghanistan following the assassination of Pakistani opposition leader Benazir Bhutto and believed there was need for "significant international community interest".

The pair also discussed climate change and securing democracy, peace and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region in their "productive and useful" meeting, Mr Smith said. Mr Smith is the highest-level official to visit Washington since the Rudd Government was elected in November. The Prime Minister plans to visit Washington later in the year.

Mr Smith, who is also meeting Vice President Dick Cheney and US Defence Secretary Robert Gates, will be at President George W. Bush's State of the Union speech today. Dr Rice accepted Mr Smith's invitation to visit his home state of Western Australia. "It has really been a very good first meeting and I look very much forward to meetings in the future," she said.


Rudd government told "Manyana" on greenhouse targets

("Manyana" is Spanish for "tomorrow" and is often used to refer to not worrying about the future)

The economist advising the Rudd Government on climate change has warned nations against locking in to strict interim greenhouse-gas reduction targets in their zeal to tackle global warming. Professor Ross Garnaut is examining the economic costs of tackling climate change and is due to deliver his report to the Federal Government in the second half of this year. At December's international climate talks in Bali, the Rudd Government refused to commit Australia to interim emissions-reduction targets until the Garnaut review was complete.

Prof Garnaut said it was more important to achieve an overall greenhouse-gas reduction target longer-term - for example over 40 years - than to meet short-term targets in particular years. Instead, the market should decide how quickly to cut emissions, he said. "By focusing on a particular date you may diminish the environmental impact of what you're trying to do and you may increase the economic costs of it," he told ABC radio today. "We're trying to address the question of how we can meet the strong environmental goals in a way that minimises cost. "You have to ask a question about how strongly you focus on particular dates and how much you look at the overall impact over a number of years."

He denied this amounted to a recommendation that governments set looser rather than tighter emissions-reduction targets. "You're looking at a binding total amount of emissions over a long period of time," Prof Garnaut said. "If you just focus on one year or particular years then you can do an awful lot of emitting in other years and so you don't meet the environmental objective that's absolutely crucial - and that's the total amount of emissions going into the atmosphere." However, he acknowledged there was a danger that countries could leave it 10 or 20 years before doing anything if they refused to commit to interim emissions cuts.


Setting standards in Qld. schools

The details are not ideal but more attention to standards is welcome -- and long overdue

CHILDREN will be taught essential subjects such as English, Maths and Science no matter where they are enrolled in the state when they start a new school year today. The Bligh Government yesterday unveiled details of its new "essential learnings" program, aimed at ensuring greater consistency in the subjects Queensland children are taught. The program, which cost more than $8 million to develop, will specify what all students need to know and be able to do at key points in their school lives.

Other milestones for the state's school sector this year include the first full intake of prep children and the introduction of the Queensland Certificate of Education for senior students. Premier Anna Bligh said the program would especially benefit the thousands of students and a quarter of the state's teachers who change schools every year. It will specify the things that all students - whether they go to public or private school - need to learn and will be assessed on.

For example, under the new system, students at the end of Year 5 would be expected to know about the colonisation of Australia including the concept of terra nullius [Leftist crap. The doctine of terra nullius had never been heard of when Australia was colonized by the British], the basics of physics and biology and how to read a map. By the end of Year 7, they would be expected to understand how gravity affects the Earth and other planets, the different roles of local, state and national governments and how to represent and compare data in pie charts and graphs.

The new program will use an "A to E" system of reporting and assessment, where an "A" means a student has demonstrated a comprehensive understanding of a subject and "E" means they have only a basic knowledge of concepts and facts related to a subject.

Ms Bligh said the program heralded a "new era" in school education in Queensland. Education Minister Rod Welford said it still allowed schools the flexibility to organise their curriculum while setting out those things all students needed to learn.

About 480,000 students are expected to enrol in government primary, secondary and special schools this year, while the Catholic and independent student body in Queensland is expected to number about 220,000. About 54,000 children will enrol on the first full intake of prep. Mr Welford will also introduce a scheme which requires all primary school children to take part in physical activities for at least an average of 30 minutes a day.


1 comment:

Marilyn said...

Keep up the good work. Cheers:-)