Monday, March 17, 2014

Indigenous higher education gathers momentum

The number of Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders who have completed PhDs has quadrupled in the past two decades, according to Department of Education data.

And on past form, I am betting that every one of them had mostly white ancestry  -- JR

Aborigines entered higher education in the 1950s but the first PhD was not completed until 1980. Only 55 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students completed PhDs in Australia from 1990 to 2000 but 219 students completed doctorates in the 11 years to 2011. Although still below parity, the growth looks set to continue with a second generation of Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders entering academia.

There were 143 PhDs awarded in the five years to 2012 and another 324 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students were enrolled in PhDs in 2012, according to the data.

Ian Anderson, assistant vice-chancellor for indigenous higher education policy at Melbourne University, said the increase represented "a maturation of the education agenda and … a growing intergenerational achievement".

"It will enable Aboriginal people to input into the knowledge economy, inspire policy and influence political decision making, leadership and institutional reform," Professor Anderson said.

Sana Mary Nakata, 30, daughter of Professor Martin Nakata, the first Torres Strait Islander to complete a PhD, teaches political theory at Melbourne University.

"I would like the intellectual potential and contributions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people recognised," she said.


Tony Abbott's war on red tape starts with repeal day

The federal government's promise to cut $1 billion in red tape annually will be put to the test on Wednesday when it begins repealing more than 8000 redundant regulations and laws.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott will begin the repeal process this week with the introduction of an omnibus red tape repeal bill, designed to cut bureaucratic compliance costs for business and households by more than $300 million.

More than a dozen other bills designed to strip away regulation and red tape will be introduced on Wednesday by cabinet ministers in their individual portfolios.

The sweeping repeal of laws and regulations will affect every sector of the economy, from small business to aged care to immigration to the rules around government procurement and grants.

The red tape reduction omnibus bill is designed to reduce the volume of regulation, eliminate duplication between state and federal governments, improve consultation with business and ensure greater transparency and efficiency within the public service.

Mr Abbott's parliamentary secretary for deregulation, Josh Frydenberg, will release a rule book for bureaucrats on Monday designed to keep red tape down.

Mr Frydenberg said the new rule book, which applies to all the public service, was designed to achieve cultural change and ensure regulation was a last resort for mandarins, not the default option.

"We do not want to get rid of every regulation, what we are on about is better regulation, only implementing new regulations after establishing what the cost of compliance is, what the impact is on key stakeholders after consultation, and what is its impact on innovation and investment," he said.

Mr Frydenberg said there were more than 80 examples of the former government ignoring its own requirement for a regulatory impact statement on new laws, and that practice had to end.

"Key legislative changes like the carbon and mining tax, the national broadband network and the changes to Fair Work laws were all exempted by the former government from the regulatory impact statement process," he said.

"All cabinet submissions that have a major regulatory impact will now be subject to a regulatory impact statement and all senior ministers are required to establish a deregulation unit within their department."

The government blames the Rudd and Gillard governments for introducing more than 21,000 regulations during their six years in power. It has promised to hold two repeal days annually.


Distinguished Army officer dismissed over truth telling

Criticising Islam, gays sets army major up for a fall

Major Bernie Gaynor jnr has served three tours of duty in Iraq but he is going to be thrown out of the army this week, or next, or very soon. And he is not going quietly.

Last week, I attended a conference in Melbourne called the Symposium on Islam and Liberty in Australia, organised by the Q Society, and Gaynor was one of the speakers. I also interviewed him at length about why a patriotic, articulate Australian intelligence officer, now serving in the Army Reserve, has become an unbearable presence for the Chief of Army, among others.

In his blog, Gaynor describes himself as "a conservative Catholic who writes what normal men dare not speak out loud". I put it to him that his commentary online and on Twitter had evolved into a provocation to the army.

"Absolutely," he replied.

Everyone listening to his speech in Melbourne quickly understood why, and I quote: "It is my unpleasant duty to inform you that the Australian Defence Force has a fundamentally broken approach to religion, an approach shaped partly by the triumph of bureaucratic administration over battlefield considerations but mostly by plain old political correctness.

"Political correctness has cost lives on the battlefield and resulted in completely flawed campaign strategies … [The ADF] has spent the last decade at war with people who fight for their religious beliefs. And part of the problem that comes with fighting people who are motivated by religious belief is that you need to have soldiers equally motivated to oppose them.

"As a Catholic, I understand why people are motivated to do things based on religious belief, rather than what would seem to be rational on a purely secular level. As an intelligence officer, it is a valuable insight to have … but the ADF has a fundamentally flawed understanding of Islam.

"Just look at Iraq. I was one of the last Australians to serve there. All the politicians and military hierarchy were saying the withdrawal of Western military force was based on success. And yet al-Qaeda today controls more of Iraq than it ever did while Western forces were in the country, or while Saddam Hussein was in power.

"The Iraq war was a failure because no one can say why we were there, who the enemy was or what the mission was … This has cost lives and wasted a decade and a half of war. In a strategic sense, Iraq and Afghanistan are no better for the blood shed by Australian soldiers.

"In Afghanistan, the government has a constitution based on Islamic law and teaching, just as the Taliban's regime was. So the efforts of the last decade to remove the threat in Afghanistan from Islamic groups has directly led to the creation of an Islamic state."

If it were possible to be more provocative to progressive sensibilities, Gaynor found a way. He then turned to the Muslim community in Australia: "The community's participation rate in the ADF is low. There were 88 Muslims in uniform in mid-2013. That means that, while there is one Australian in uniform in every 400, there is only one Muslim in uniform for about every 6000 Muslims in this country.

"This is not because the Islamic community is peaceful. I think there are now nine Australian Muslims who have died in Syria. On a per capita basis, that is equivalent to the ADF losing over 400 soldiers in Afghanistan. So while the Islamic community is 15 times less likely to contribute to our nation's defence, it is 10 times more likely to see its sons die on the battlefield … for a cause that hates Western life, history and culture."

While this is fire and brimstone, what got him into career-ending trouble in the army was his run-in with the gay community within the military. In early last year, Gaynor criticised a law that would prevent Christian schools from barring gay teachers. He lodged a formal complaint about ADF personnel being allowed to take part in uniform in the Sydney Mardi Gras. He cited the military's ban on engaging in political activity while in uniform.

He quoted references to political activism in the constitution of the Mardi Gras. He referred to a tradition of "religious and political vilification" at the Mardi Gras, especially of the Catholic Church. He pointed out that Catholics made up almost 40 per cent of Australian military personnel.

The details go on and on but, in March last year, Major General A. J. Campbell, DSC, wrote requesting his resignation from the army: "In short, army does not share your views, which are both offensive and divisive and not in the interests of army or our people."

The chairman of the Defence Force Gay & Lesbian Information Service, Squadron Leader Vince Chong, weighed in with a complaint that Gaynor's conduct "compromises a person's ability to work within the diverse workforce of the Australian Defence Force, which includes transgender personnel, personnel from Islamic backgrounds and women".

Although internal investigations dismissed the complaints and charges against him, largely because he was expressing personal views while serving in the reserves, the army has moved, in the absence of his resignation, to terminate his commission.

"While I was having this battle," Gaynor told me, "Defence issued a policy that if any uniformed personnel participated in an event that vilified Islam they would be severely dealt with. We now have the absurd situation where the ADF protects the religious beliefs of Islam, while tolerating the vilification of Christianity, the religion that most soldiers identify with."



MWD Issue 215 featured Richard Ackland’s column titled “Welcome back to the days of White Australia”.

A Sydney based avid MWD reader has forwarded a screen-shot of the very same article as it appeared on the Sydney Morning Herald website.

1. -Page 5

2. -Page 20

Needless to say, the above links do not support the Herald’s assertion. Australia’s major source countries for skilled migration in 2012-13 were India, China and the United Kingdom. Moreover, according to the available figures, in 2012-13 refugees who were granted visas under the Australian humanitarian program were mostly from Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

It seems that the Herald on-line’s White Australia beat-up was just misleading click-bait.


1 comment:

Paul said...

And on past form, I am betting that every one of them had mostly white ancestry -- JR

And on past form, I am betting the marking has been "fine-tuned" to meet the political imperative of getting the numbers up.