Tuesday, May 02, 2017

Thought police screening schoolbooks in Victoria

Kevin Donnelly

Victoria’s politically correct thought police and nanny state mentality know no bounds. The Marxist-inspired LGBTI gender and sexuality program is being forced on all government schools, as is the Respectful Relationships program that presents boys and men as violent and misogynist.

Add the state’s Curriculum and Assess­ment Authority’s principles and guidelines dictating what texts should be studied in years 11 and 12, and it’s no wonder Victoria is once again being ­described as our Albania of the South — a state where cultural-left ideology and group-think rules, and freedom of thought is under threat.

The guidelines warn that texts should not be chosen “regardless of literary or dramatic merit” if they deal with “violence or physical, psychological or sexual abuse”, “gratuitous use of coarse language” or they “promote or normalise the abuse of alcohol, the use of illegal drugs or other ­illegal behaviour”. Texts dealing with the full ambit of human ­nature with all its flaws, weaknesses and susceptibility to give in to temptation are to be cut from the state-mandated curriculum.

Often the most enduring and worthwhile examples of literature by their very nature portray the dark and unsettling side of ­humanity and personal relationships. In the Greek tragedy The Bacchae, Euripides presents Dionysus as a god of wine, promiscuity and physical gratification that represents an enduring ­aspect of human nature. Other Greek tragedies, such as Antigone and King Oedipus, centre on the nature and impact of violence, ­deceit, betrayal and the ­impact of psychological and sexual abuse.

Shakespeare’s Macbeth, as vividly portrayed in Roman ­Polan­ski’s film adaptation, is awash with violence and death, and there’s no escaping the reality that what drives Lady Macbeth to suicide is her mental and psychological ­instability. The final scene of Hamlet is also bloody, and once again the destructive impact of psychological abuse is evident with Ophelia’s suicide. As proved by one of Shakespeare’s most memorable characters, Falstaff, it’s also true that great literature often involves bawdy scenes ­involving alcohol and rude and ­offensive language.

Similar to Falstaff, the central character in Zorba the Greek would fall foul of today’s PC thought police as he is consumed by the attraction of women and drink, illus­trated by his statement: “To be alive is to undo your belt and look for trouble.”

There’s also no doubt that if the Victorian guidelines relating to “social and sexual relationships” are taken seriously then metaphysical poets like Marvell and Donne would be unacceptable.

Marvell’s To His Coy Mistress is a seduction poem feminists would castigate as misogynist in nature as the poet’s aim is to convince his mistress to consummate their relationship “like amorous birds of prey”. Donne’s poem Elegie: To his Mistress Going to Bed would also definitely be in the no-go zone as the lines, “Licence my roving hands, and let them goe, Behind, before, above, between, below”, would cause feminist apoplexy.

Modern Australian classics like Wake in Fright, The One Day of the Year and Don’s Party, given the pervasive influence of alcohol, gambling and sexual innuendo and misbehaviour, would also fall foul of the politically correct mentality that seeks to impose state sanctioned behaviour.

And what of Tolstoy’s War and Peace,that vast and majestic novel that not only vividly and in detail portrays the death, suffering and violence of war but also the interplay of characters depicting the full range of human emotions and ­actions ­including sexual promiscuity, ­betrayal and abuse?

Whatever the nature of the text or how challenging its issues, teachers must ensure the way it is taught is affirmative and constructive, that lessons ­include a range of perspectives and there are alternative points of view.

DH Lawrence argues: “The Business of art is to reveal the relation between man and his circumambient universe at the living moment.” Lawrence also argues that literature should never be sanitised and, as such, students have the right to encounter human nature and their world in all its complexity and challenges — good and evil, dark and light.


Crackdown looms for welfare ‘cheats’

WELFARE “cheats” who turn up to Centrelink appointments just to get paid are facing a crackdown in next week’s Federal Budget.

According to figures reported in The Australian, 7006 jobseekers last year missed their Centrelink appointments and re-engaged at the very end of each fortnight, allowing their $579 Newstart payment to continue

Almost half of those repeated the behaviour six times or more during the year. An additional 16,492 jobseekers were flagged for “unusual” behaviour, attending Centrelink appointments at regular intervals to prevent payments being cut off.

A further 3415 people re-engaged with Centrelink every 56 days to avoid having their payments cut off, and more than 800 of those repeated the behaviour more than six times, meaning they were repeatedl­y suspended and then backpaid without consequence.

The group identified as “gaming the system” comprise about 3 per cent of the 759,000 people receiving the fortnightly Newstart allowance.

The Australian reports the crackdown on the small group of repeat offenders will by unveiled by Employment Minister Mich­aelia Cash and Human Services Minister Alan Tudge, promising “immediate and proportionate” financial punishment.

“Australia’s welfare system is there to provide a safety net for those in need — not to fund a lifestyle choice,” Senator Cash told The ­Australian. “The Coalition continues to look at ways in which to strengthen the system so that community expectations are met and to ensure­ that those that can work, do work.”

Mr Tudge said the government was targeting the “persistent group of capable people who are gaming the system”. “We need to close these loopholes so that jobseekers can’t get around their obligations,” he said.

“It is in their interests as much as the community’s for them to get back to work as quickly as possible, because the longer a ­person is on welfare, the steeper the road back to ­employment.

“We need a system that ­recognises that some have serious issues in their life and need assistance. But for those who are gaming the system, we need to introduce stronger, more immed­iate ­conse­quences.”


Good or bad debt has to be repaid: Bernardi

Crossbench senator Cory Bernardi is sceptical about the Turnbull government's new approach to debt, saying whether it is good or bad, it has to be repaid.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Treasurer Scott Morrison went to great lengths last week to explain how debt in the future will be classified as "good and "bad" debt.

In its simplest form, good debt is an investment like that in infrastructure projects, while bad debt is just funding recurrent expenditure.

Senator Bernardi, the former Liberal and now leader of the Australian Conservatives, believes this is about a government trying to make sure the budget looks better than it otherwise would.

"They are going to say 'we are not borrowing to buy pencils but we are borrowing to pour concrete'," he told Sky News on Sunday.

"Whether it is good debt or bad debt it has to be repaid,"

He said the world is awash with capital looking for reasonable returns, so he can't understand why the government is looking at accruing billions of dollars worth of debt to get involved in projects that commercial financing can get involved in.

"If they make economic sense for a nation I know there would be capital attracted to it," he said.

Government frontbencher Matt Canavan said the government has been committed to infrastructure spending since it came to power in 2013 when it announced a $50 billion program

He said the treasurer had taken a step forward trying to better account in the budget when governments are just putting stuff on the credit card and when they investing in something that will pay off for future generations.

"We continue to invest in infrastructure and we will continue to support projects like the inland rail which we have backed already," he told Sky News.


Abbott slams "anti-men" gender quota idea

Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins reportedly wants the federal government to make private sector contractors hire more women.

Government agencies would include a clause in contracts requiring "demonstrated efforts to improve gender balance" with a hiring rate target of 40 per cent women.

"Pull your head in," the former prime minister said of Ms Jenkins, during an interview with Sydney radio 2GB. "We absolutely have to give women a fair go but some of this stuff sounds like it's just anti-men."

Mr Abbott said if the government wanted to do the right thing by women the best thing it could do was to get good conservative women into the parliament. "That's one of the challenges which faces my party right now," he said.


Kiwis reassured one year 'pathway to citizenship' in Australia remains

New Zealanders living in Australia have been assured a crackdown on citizenship requirements has not shifted the goalposts on the "pathway to citizenship" hammered out last year.

In February last year, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced a streamlined pathway to citizenship for Kiwis who had been living in Australia for at least five years and met income and character tests.

As many as 100,000 Kiwis were expected to be eligible for the process, which would allow applicants to first receive permanent residency then citizenship one year later.

But in a surprise move last week Turnbull and Immigration Minister Peter Dutton announced a stringent new citizenship test and said that all new citizenship applicants must have been permanent residents for at least four years.

That raised fears Australia reneged on the 2016 deal and those eligible would have to wait for four years, not one.

However, on Friday a spokeswoman for Prime Minister Bill English said the PM and Turnbull had spoken on the recently announced Australian citizenship changes, and the scope of their impact on New Zealanders who had moved to Australia between February 2001 and February 2016.

"Prime Minister Turnbull confirmed that the Pathway to Citizenship for eligible New Zealanders, announced in February 2016, has not been changed.

"It remains in place and on track, and is separate from the citizenship changes which Australia announced last week," she said.

"Prime Minister English has thanked Prime Minister Turnbull for this confirmation."

The reassurance means those who meet the eligibility requirements for the Pathway announced in Feb 2016 would be eligible to apply for permanent residency under the "pathway" from July 1, 2017 - New Zealanders who moved to Australia between 26 February 26, 2001 and February 19, 2016 and meet the other eligibility criteria - would be exempt from the four year qualification period and will only have to wait one year between receiving permanent residence and applying for citizenship.

Before the "pathway" was announced in 2016 New Zealanders on Special Category Visas could work and live in Australia indefinitely, but had limited access to government services and no pathway to citizenship.

Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).    For a daily critique of Leftist activities,  see DISSECTING LEFTISM.  To keep up with attacks on free speech see Tongue Tied. Also, don't forget your daily roundup  of pro-environment but anti-Greenie  news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH .  Email me  here

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