Tuesday, September 03, 2019

Morrison warns of influx if Tamils stay

Australia risks being swamped by a new wave of boat people if it lets a Tamil asylum seeker family remain in the country, the prime minister says.

Scott Morrison says people smugglers will again hit high gear if the government responds to "a public reaction" in support of a family that had been found not to be refugees.

"Now - at a time when there are increasing push factors come out of Sri Lanka - the worst possible thing you can do is to ... send a message which says: 'You know what, if you come illegally to Australia and the courts say you don't have a claim and the government say you don't have a claim, then the government just might make an exception because there's been a public reaction," he said on Monday.

"That's not how you run strong borders.

"I know what happens when you send those messages back into those communities whether it's in Sri Lanka or the more than 10,000 people sitting in Indonesia right now who would get on a boat tomorrow if they thought this government was changing its position."

Mr Morrison said he could not understand why Australians might be cynical about the government's decision on the weekend to release details about the interception of a sixth asylum-seeker vessel from Sri Lanka since May.

"It's just a simple fact. It's a fact," he said, saying it was the government's habit of announcing turn-backs only after the fact.

He said he would never allow a return to the tragic scenes of people dying at sea while trying to reach Australia illegally.

"That's not something that I, in good conscience, can allow to happen and nor can my ministers.

"I need to be very clear to those who might be sitting in Indonesia or Sri Lanka, or anywhere else, my government's policy has not changed."


Flaws in education system ignored as journos plunge into class warfare

The sources quoted by journalists can tell media consumers a lot about the politics of a newspaper or electronic network but sometimes not much about the truth of the story.

Look at the reaction to the release last Wednesday of preliminary results of this year’s National Assessment Program — Literacy and Numeracy tests. Journalists at Nine Entertainment’s newspapers, the ABC and Guardian Australia were likelier to quote teachers, teacher unions and politicians continuing their long criticism of national testing. Media on the right often quoted education researchers who have argued Australia is not getting value for its spending on schools.

Many teachers hate NAPLAN and anything that makes them accountable for student performance. But here’s the thing: the media should not care. The $57.8 billion we spent across all levels of government and school systems in 2016-17 is not for the edification of teachers. It’s to educate our children. Some tweets last Wednesday highlight personal attitudes among media types.

Former teacher and Sydney Daily Telegraph education writer Maralyn Parker tweeted: “Oh FFS, #NAPLAN has failed. The constant testing and huge scammy $$$$$ industry around teaching and preparing for the tests is stuffing up Australian children.” Nine newspapers cartoonist Cathy Wilcox tweeted: “What if, now bear with me, just as an experiment, we properly funded public schools (crazy I know), then compared NAPLAN results to see if it made a difference?” Unbelievable that a highly paid cartoonist whose work is published in The Sydney Morning Herald did not already know the figures.

Australia has increased funding across all school systems from $36.4bn to $57.8bn in the nine years since the Gillard government committed to the first round of Gonski funding rises. The Turnbull government committed an extra $18.6bn across four years in Gonski 2.0 funding in 2017. All that money has bought some improvement in primary school NAPLAN results, flatlining overall in literacy and numeracy and disappointing Year 9 results.

Remember NAPLAN was not a plot by a conservative government to hurt political enemies in the teacher unions. It was introduced in 2008 by then education minister Julia Gillard in the first Rudd government.

The most sensible reactions to NAPLAN numbers each year usually came from long-time critics of educational standards such as Kevin Donnelly, from the Australian Catholic University, and Centre for Independent Studies researchers Jennifer Buckingham and Blaise Joseph.

Progressives tend to deny there is a problem and want the test scrapped or its standards lowered. Funny thing is we have known for many years why Australia lags in international tests. Admission standards for teaching are too low, more than half of university education degree entrants being accepted with an Australian Tertiary Admission Rank of less than 50.

Better paid and more qualified teachers with proper mentoring in the job seem to work in systems that continually outperform ours, particularly in Shanghai, Singapore and Finland. Education reformers in the US and Canada have proved better quality headmasters with more independence in hiring and firing staff — usually backed by activist parents bodies — can lift results in even the most underprivileged areas.

Unfortunately state education departments here have used headmaster independence to load the role with managerialist tasks to defend schools against lawsuits rather than to lift education outcomes.

The Australian under former education writer Justine Ferrari in the noughties highlighted the role of curriculum in letting down children. This has only worsened as teachers have been required since 2012 to overlay all their work with three mandated cross-curriculum priorities: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures; Asia and Australia’s engagement with it; and sustainability. In a worst-case hypothetical, maths teachers with fairly poor HSC results who did no maths to Year 12 and none in their education degrees are now burdened with these three overlays in trying to teach kids struggling to understand mathematics.

Teachers often complain about lack of student discipline and lack of parental support for schools trying to impose such discipline.

Technology and the rise of social media, smartphones and iPad use in education have had a perverse effect. Some schools have now banned mobile phone use. I have heard of parent-teacher nights when parents themselves did not put away their phones and Facebook feeds while teachers were giving individual feedback about children.

Auto-correction software on devices is having an adverse effect on spelling ability while teachers talk of students coming to school, often with no breakfast, having been up past midnight on devices.

The Daily Telegraph on Wednesday raised another important issue with screen use. University of Sydney cognitive psychology professor Sally Andrews said poor grammar skills “could be the result of skim reading on screens”. “That means they’re not picking up on the subtleties of sentence construction and punctuation marks that occur when you read a book on paper,” she said. Many parents no longer read books to their kids.

Like The Australian, the News Corp tabloids last Wednesday also quoted Donnelly and Joseph, who discussed these issues. The Sydney Morning Herald chose the Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority, which runs NAPLAN, and federal Education Minister Dan Tehan to defend the test. It quoted Australian Education Union acting federal president Meredith Peace and NSW Primary Principals Association president Phil Seymour bagging it. ABC 7.30 interviewed Tehan but host Leigh Sales seemed to think the testing should be scrapped.

It is instructive the left media did not question teaching methods or curriculum, discipline and electronic learning approaches. Nor did most media go to the core philosophical question: what is our education system for? Do we want world-class students or do we want to reshape the world?

Some quotes from educators suggest more of the latter. Former Victorian premier and education minister Joan Kirner: “Education has to be reshaped so it is part of the socialist struggle for equality.”

Former Griffith University education lecturer Gregory Martin: “A major task for leftist academics is to connect education with community struggles for social justice.”

Former head of the Australian Education Union Pat Byrne: “We have succeeded in influencing curriculum development … conservatives have a lot of work to do to undo the progressive curriculum.”

Media consumers are grateful when journalists shine a light on such areas. Parents marvel at children’s lack of numeracy and literacy skills, things taken for granted in previous generations. Maybe modern “child-centred learning” needs a rethink.

Having watched direct instruction in action at Noel Pearson’s Hope Vale school north of Cooktown last month I can only concur with Donnelly in Friday’s Tele: “The most effective way to learn stresses … ‘automaticity’ — essential knowledge and skills like times tables and learning to read have to be automatic before students complete more complex tasks.”


How a Belgian saved the recent Federal election for Australia's conservatives

(Mathias Cormann came to Australia from Belgium in 1994)

It’s just over 100 days since the Coali­tion’s crushing victory over Labor at the federal election in May. Speaking on the occasion of Scott Morrison’s first anniversary as Prime Minister last Saturday, John Howard told The Australian’s Simon Benson that the parliamentary Liberal Party “is in better shape than it has been since 2007”.

That’s true. It’s also correct to say that, at the leadership level, the Liberal Party is more united than it has been at any time since the days of prime minister Robert Menzies and his deputy Harold Holt more than a half-century ago.

Certainly the relationship between Morrison and his deputy, Josh Frydenberg, is remarkably close. This is something rare on either side of mainstream politics, since promotion is invariably gained by beating your colleagues to attain high office.

In the period between Tuesday, August 21, and Friday, August 24, the Liberal Party was in real crisis mode. The matter had to be resolved that week, otherwise the party might have found itself facing a genuinely unwinnable election before the end of last year because of internal divisions.

There has been much criticism of Cormann’s actions at the time of the leadership change, particularly among members of the Canberra press gallery, quite a few of whom were Turnbull supporters. But there is a strong case that Cormann saved the Liberal Party, in the short term at least.

As the government leader in the Senate, Cormann did not have a conflict of interest with respect to the leadership. Whoever prevailed would come from the House of Representatives — not the Senate. His only interest was to remain a minister in the government and ensure that Labor remained in ­opposition.

When Cormann decided that Turnbull’s self-inflicted political wounds made it impossible for him to hang on as prime minister, he brought two Senate ministerial colleagues with him — Mitch ­Fifield and Michaelia Cash.

The Coalition’s win in May endorsed Cormann’s political judgment. Since Abbott’s victory over Kevin Rudd in 2013, Cormann had been running a consistent line proclaiming the Coalition’s economic agenda and accusing Labor of big-spending, high-taxing socialism. This can be traced in six keynote speeches delivered to the Sydney Institute between 2014 and this week.

It was Cormann who maintained the Coalition’s economic line following Turnbull’s successful challenge against Abbott in September 2015. And it was Cormann who did the same as Turnbull’s leadership fell apart following his near loss in 2016.

After the leadership changed, Morrison and Frydenberg (as Treasurer), with a little help from backbencher Tim Wilson, joined Cormann in making the economic case against Labor. Morrison proved to be a first-rate communicator and an extremely hard worker on the campaign.

In his speech to the Sydney Institute last Tuesday, Cormann arg­ued that at the federal election this year “Australians voted for policies supporting opportunity and aspiration and they voted against the economy-harming, opportunity-lowering politics of envy and division”.

He praised the record of the Labor governments led by Bob Hawke and Paul Keating and blamed Wayne Swan, who became treasurer in 2007, for moving Labor’s economic policy to the left.

Many commentators, especially on the ABC and in Nine newspapers, misunderstood the Coalition’s tactics in the lead-up to the election.

After becoming Prime Minister a year ago, Morrison targeted some seats that Turnbull had lost in 2016 — in northern Tasmania, parts of NSW and parts of southern and northern Queensland. The aim was to hold as many seats as possible in the remaining states, and to win back seats held by independents in Melbourne (Chisholm) and Sydney (Wentworth).

There were two prongs to this tactic: appeal to aspirational Australians along with social conservatives. The Coalition succeeded on both counts.

In 2004, after Howard’s fourth victory, Bill Shorten was interviewed on the ABC television Insiders program. At the time he was secretary of the Australian Workers Union.

In this interview, Shorten spoke about the need for Labor to advocate an agenda beyond “progressive left-wing views”. And he argued that Labor should “send a clear message to people who live in the outer suburbs and provincial cities, that if you have a dream to have an intact marriage, to go to church on Sunday, to have a mortgage, to want to send your kids to a private school — then the Labor Party of the inner city does not look at your disdainfully”.

Shorten understood the problem Labor faced before the 2004 election.

However, when opposition leader on the eve of the election this year, he lost contact with ­aspirational and socially conservative Australians in suburbs and towns.

After the election, Labor front­bencher Chris Bowen expressed concern at the flight of believers away from Labor to the Coalition.

Cormann’s economic and social conservatism was mocked by some commentators. However, his approach to the Liberal leadership contest a year ago was correct. And most Australians supported Morrison and his colleagues at the subsequent election.


Real solutions for Indigenous problems

The vast majority of Australians — including many Australians of Aboriginal descent — know very little of the reality of the situation on remote communities and the extent to which aspects of traditional culture play a significant role in the acceptance of interpersonal violence which in turn perpetuates the crisis.

Nor are Aboriginal people who struggle with poor education and live within the confines of traditional culture capable of articulating to the wider Australian community the contrasting differences between traditional culture and the functions of a modern Australian society — based on democracy and the upholding of individual human rights.

What has become increasingly apparent to me is that there is one standard for the majority of Australians — and then there is a lowered standard for Indigenous Australians, which is aggressively driven by the left.

This lowered expectation for Indigenous Australians works to keep disadvantage in place — to entrench it. Rather than it giving us an ‘easier path’ — as some people claim they are trying to do — it prevents us from realising our personal and community agency in our own futures.

We are in a time where common sense is needed now more than ever. Ideology is driving the current politically correct narrative that Indigenous Australians require continual placation in order to close the gap.

The current narrative demands that symbolic gestures take priority over the implementation of practical solutions in order that marginalized Indigenous Australians may overcome their disadvantage.

We live in an era of smoke and mirrors where an industry has arisen that purports to be helping Indigenous Australia — and yet while increasing sums are spent, the promised outcomes are nowhere in sight.

Why has this happened? Because somewhere within our country’s consciousness, a shift has taken place, which has triggered an obsession with our country’s historical injustices toward Indigenous Australians — and a blindness about the real problems that abound today.

I believe it all accelerated after Rudd’s great act of symbolism with the apology. The apology focused on the Stolen Generation but failed to acknowledge those who were left behind… Left ‘on country’ with no jobs, but access to welfare and alcohol — and out of sight and out of mind for the rest of Australia.

It was the Aboriginal Ordinance of 1954 all over again, where people of mixed heritage could apply to be exempt from Ordinance but Aboriginal people of full descent continue to remain in poverty — without education, without jobs, without normal access to services — and continually told by those without traditional culture that it is their culture that will save them.

My mission — CIS’s mission — is to change the narrative. The current narrative ensures the misery of the most marginalised Aboriginal Australians continues.

As long as we continue to be sidelined by arguments for the need of more symbolism — changing the date, replacing the anthem, finding racism where it does not exist — the real issues will not be solved.

The new Indigenous Program at CIS will build on the research by the late and eminent scholar, Helen Hughes.

Building on Helen’s previous research in the area of education will be one of our first tasks. Remote Australian children have the lowest attendance rates in the nation and the lowest educational outcomes compared to the rest of Australia.

Indigenous Incarceration and its relationship with family violence is another priority the program will address.

We will also research which institutions and processes are hindering economic development — and whether the Land Rights Act should be reviewed in order that traditional owners can actually take real ownership of their land to enable economic prosperity.

The common sense that has been a hallmark of CIS policy research, and the commitment to bettering the lives of all Australians —including Indigenous Australians — means we will focus on practical and real solutions for problems that have been ignored for far too long.


 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


1 comment:

Paul said...

"and whether the Land Rights Act should be reviewed in order that traditional owners can actually take real ownership of their land to enable economic prosperity."

Step 1: give land

Step 2: ummm, er....

Step 3: Profits!!!