Saturday, December 12, 2009

Influence for "some academic scribbler of a few years back" (To quote Keynes)?

A correspondent writes: "In reading Tony Abbott's "Battlelines", I find you cited. Your "Conservatism as Heresy" seems to have been a seminal influence on the young Abbott's life. Indeed, Abbott picks up your assertion that you are a "Burkean conservative" and opines that you were probably the first Australian to so self-describe. Given that our former prime minister described himself thus, we can now realise he was plagiarising you. Congratulations Dr. Ray for your influence on the re-formation of conservative ideology in Australia."

The hate-motivated party

Comments below by Andrew Bolt. One thing Andrew fails to note is that displaying a flag upside down is a sign of disrespect for it

NOW put some clothes on the lady and explain to me the difference - but slowly, so even I can understand. Let's start with Sam. Last year Channel 9 Footy Show star Sam Newman stuck a picture of a female sportswriter's head on a bikini-clad mannequin, and that was so wickedly sexist that he had to be hounded off air, formally counselled and slagged off by every sanctimonious blowhard in the land. "Punt the bastard," screamed a typical headline, over a piece by Michael Costello, former chief of staff to Labor leader Kim Beazley. Costello was sure feeling righteous on that day. Speaking on behalf of outraged women and their more unctuous gallants, he raged at the "low, sad, pathetic antics of sickos such as Newman".

Now fast forward to this week, when many of this same Costello's Labor cronies, Beazley included, crammed into the Guillame at Bennelong restaurant at the Sydney Opera House to celebrate the 80th birthday of former Labor prime minister Bob Hawke. There they all gathered, these black-tied representatives of the party that inflicted on us so many anti-discrimination laws and hired so many anti-discrimination police to nick the Newmans of this wayward world.

(God still laughs that Hawke, that once notorious womaniser, in 1984 gave Australia the Sex Discrimination Act, presumably as a public sign of repentance.)

There was Paul Keating, for instance, and Simon Crean, as well as Gough Whitlam, the always breathless Maxine McKew and glowering Greg Combet, the fiercest global warming moralist, with his new partner. Naturally, Pope Kevin Rudd turned up to give the blessing, since he's always hogging microphones and always up for a moral sermon, delivered in words of the deadest bureaucratese, like this: "It's very important for sporting organisations across the country to show leadership in demonstrating proper respect towards women."

And then it was party time. The band struck up ... and, golly, the clothes came off. See, a model - far fleshier than Newman's mere mannequin - hopped on to the stage as a treat for bawdy Bob from wife Blanche and stripped down to her bikini, while using an Australian flag, carried upside down, for some peekaboo. And on her head she had not a picture of sportswriter Caroline Wilson, stapled to her skull, but a latex mask of John Howard, the second-longest-serving prime minister of this country, after Sir Robert Menzies.

Hur, hur, hur. That'll cut Howard down to size, turning him into just a girl. Into just a bimbo. Because that was the joke, right: Howard was demeaned, because being a woman is demeaning. Even better, Howard's Labor haters - or at least the men - could at last now really do him over, at least in their fervid minds.

So did Hawke reel away in horror, shouting for his sex discrimination police to come arrest all those responsible? Did Beazley or his old chief of staff thunder denunciations of such "low, sad, pathetic antics"? Did Pope Rudd rise from his throne to counsel "leadership in demonstrating proper respect towards women"?

I've gone through the pictures of that night but all I can see is leers, smirks, mouths wide open with guffaws, people clapping and taking glad snaps, and Rudd with glasses gleaming and jacket off like he was once more back at Scores strip club, and this time could see.

How strange, then, that a paid clown like Newman is required to set a higher moral example than are the men who've run - and again run - this country. But how often we see the great deftly excuse themselves from laws meant for the small.

Yet this is not just a "let them eat cake" teachable moment, or a chance to show that our new moral laws are often more a weapon than a principle. What strikes me most from Hawke's bouncing birthday treat is just what a tribe will excuse itself when bonding - and how tribal a collectivist party such as Labor really is.

And, yes, this is indeed something you'd expect from Labor rather than the more individualist Liberals. Could you really imagine the Liberals using John Howard's 80th birthday for some raucous group-hate of Kevin Rudd, let alone hiring some stripper to strut around with Rudd's picture over her scone? Gentlemen, please. Ladies, shame! And hand over that flag.

But see what the tribe permits itself when in need of some some boyo bonding. THINK how much more it permits itself when its members are such to-the-knife rivals (think Keating and Hawke, Beazley and Crean) that they're best united by a common hatred than a common passion. No wonder such a tribe could forgive - even applaud - a stripper in a Howard mask.

But would these Labor moralisers have forgiven their dancer had she done her jiggle on the Footy Show instead, wearing, say, a Barack Obama mask - or even Caroline Wilson's picture, glued to her nose? Or take the other details of the act. Could Rudd have resisted delivering an improving sermon had he seen a stripper use the Australian flag as a prop not at Bob's bash, but at some bump-and-grind club?

The difference is that a tribe must hate, and hate licences what love could never excuse.


Poor students top performers at elite unis

Which suggests that only the very bright can overcome a poor background

STUDENTS from poor backgrounds are less likely to attend the nation's prestige universities, but those who do are likelier to finish their degrees, according to a report by the Group of Eight.

The report, released earlier this week, will inform a Go8 equity strategy that is being hammered out in response to the federal government's call for a boost in the proportion of undergraduates from low socioeconomic backgrounds to 20 per cent by 2020.

The report found 72.4 per cent of applicants to Go8 universities achieved an equivalent national tertiary entrance rank score of more than 80.05 last year, and of these only 10.4 per cent were from low socioeconomic backgrounds. But the imbalance was corrected to some extent by better retention and academic success rates for students from these backgrounds.

"Retention rates were higher in Go8 universities than any other universities across all equity groups in the five-year period from 2002 to 2006," the report says. "The difference was greatest for remote students (77 per cent in Go8 universities, 66.9 per cent in other universities) and indigenous students (70.2 per cent in Go8 universities compared with 60.6 per cent in other universities)." The report says the dropout rate for low-socio economic status students, likewise, is lower within the Go8 than outside it.

The Go8 report comes after the federal government released its own attrition figures for 2001-07 which revealed a national dropout rate of 18.9 per cent for undergraduates. The worst rate, of 40 per cent, was found at the Batchelor Institute of Indigenous Tertiary Education in the Northern Territory, while the lowest dropout rate, of 8 per cent, was recorded by the University of Melbourne.

Earlier this year the Go8 was stung by a higher education equity report written for the University of South Australia's new National Centre for Student Equity in Higher Education.

While the report, by Griffith University researcher Leesa Wheelahan, found that universities such as Macquarie and Canberra had worse equity credentials than the sandstone universities, it revealed that the Go8 admitted an average of 10.9 per cent of their students from poor backgrounds. This compared with an average across the higher education system of 17.4 per cent. At the time the Go8 strenuously asserted its members' capacity to retain disadvantaged students through to graduation.

The new report, which pledges to improve ways to identify students with academic potential and develop "multiple pathways through partnerships with other post-secondary education and training institutions", gives substance to this claim.

In a related development, the University of Melbourne has unveiled a "guaranteed access" program which it says will "give certainty" to students from rural or isolated areas and in disadvantaged socioeconomic circumstances who apply to enter the university next year and meet the published criteria. These students will be guaranteed a commonwealth-supported place in the university's new-look degrees (except music, for which students have to audition) if their ENTER is 78 or above for arts, environments or science, or 88 or above for biomedicine and commerce. Disadvantaged students whose ENTER scores are below this level will still be eligible for a place.

Melbourne University's deputy vice-chancellor Sue Elliott said of students from disadvantaged groups who meet the criteria: "They will know they have a place at Melbourne when they get their [Victorian Certificate of Education] results. These are high-quality students whose results don't necessarily reflect their true academic ability."

Professor Elliott said disadvantaged students had been shown to perform at much the same level at university as other students. "The undergraduate experience at a good university is a level playing field where students from all backgrounds have the opportunity to flourish," she said.


Bumbling Police Minister Bob Cameron labelled 'worst in Victoria's history'

BUMBLING Police Minister Bob Cameron has been labelled "the worst in Victoria's history" after a third damning Ombudsman's report in nine months into management and cultural problems at Victoria Police. In a scathing report, Ombudsman George Brouwer warned confiscated drugs were not being stored securely at the Victorian Police Forensic Services Centre, paving the way for corruption.

The report highlighted that some of the issues raised about drug exhibits and staffing problems at the laboratory might date back to 1994. Forensic drug and alcohol branch head Cate Quinn was yesterday suspended.

This is the third toxic Ombudsman's report into Victoria Police, putting huge pressure on the Police Minister - nicknamed Sideshow Bob by his political enemies for his poor performances in Parliament. In March, the Ombudsman found police abused recording procedures to improve crime clearance rates. Last month, Victoria Police was under the microscope with a scathing Ombudsman report about a series of costly blunders and dodgy contracts that left the force's IT budget $39 million in the red.

Victoria Police's credibility took a further battering this week when Chief Commissioner Simon Overland ordered that forensic officers not provide DNA testimony until further notice. The directive came two days after Farah Jama was freed after 16 months in jail and his conviction was quashed after the Crown conceded DNA evidence in the rape case might have been contaminated and there might not have even been a crime.

Opposition Leader Ted Baillieu in Parliament called on Mr Cameron to resign, describing him as incompetent and lazy. "Will he finally accept the title as the worst Police Minister in Victorian history? Or will he resign?" Mr Baillieu bellowed in the last Question Time of the year.

But Premier John Brumby remains fully supportive of his beleaguered Police Minister and Victoria Police.

The Ombudsman's report, tabled in Parliament yesterday, outlined "significant issues regarding the security and storage of drug" exhibits at the MacLeod centre which stores some 18,000 drug items. "(Drug) exhibits were being stored on pallets in an open work space in open boxes without seals or evidence tape," the report said.

In the report, Mr Brouwer admitted he did "not have confidence that all drug exhibits have been accounted for until a full external audit has been undertaken" and warned electronic records of drug exhibits were inaccurate.

Mr Overland said immediate action would be taken to overhaul the centre's drug handling and management issues. Victoria Police has accepted all 43 of the Ombudsman's recommendations. But Mr Overland conceded the recent problems at the centre had tainted the force.

Former Australian Federal Police forensic specialist Graham Ashton will take over management of the centre. Mr Ashton headed the AFP's Bali bombing investigation.


Victoria police again: Thug cop demands unconditional obedience at the point of a gun

A 70-year-old former CFA [Country Fire Authority] captain broke down in court yesterday as he recounted having a detective point a gun at his head at a police roadblock on Black Saturday. Horsham man Donald Carter has pleaded not guilty to charges including assaulting police and resisting arrests that resulted from an incident 300m from his house on February 7.

Mr Carter said he had briefly left his home to check on the progress of a bushfire that was sweeping towards his house. When he tried to return, Mr Carter said Det-Sgt Stephen Walker pointed a gun at his head after he tried to pass a traffic control point to reach his nearby home, which was threatened by the fires.

Det-Sgt Walker has given evidence he was forced to pull his gun after being rammed by Mr Carter's black 4WD ute.

Mr Carter denied ramming the officer with his car. "He jumped in front of my vehicle and pointed (the gun) directly at my head. His left hand was on the bonnet, and the gun in his right hand," a shaken Mr Carter told the Horsham Magistrates Court.


No comments: