Monday, August 16, 2021

Academic calls to scrap ‘English’ name from the curriculum

Another white "Aborigine" making a nuisance of herself

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English would be renamed as a subject in the Australian curriculum and kids instead taught “Language Arts” under a radical proposal from a leading academic.

In a major address at the recent Australian Association for the Teaching of English conference, former Queensland school teacher and University of Melbourne senior lecturer Dr Melitta Hogarth described the use of the name English as an “act of assimilation”.

She offered alternatives, such as “Language Arts” or “Languages, Literacy and Communications”.

But the idea was shot down by Federal Education Minister Alan Tudge, who told The Courier-Mail in terms of changing the national curriculum he would be “firmly rejecting such nonsense”, claiming it would “lead to the dumbing down of our kids”.

“This is not just political correctness gone mad, but it actually makes me angry that such views are in our universities’ education faculties - the place that trains our future teachers,” he said.

“Everyday Australians are just sick of this sort of rubbish that infects our universities.”

Dr Hogarth, an Indigenous woman who spent many years teaching Indigenous children, said in her address her intent was to “disrupt and scrutinise” the role subject English played in maintaining the “status quo”, and “asserting the besieged sovereignty of the colonial state”.

“The power of the coloniser within colonial Australia is clear when we consider how essential to the teaching and learning and schooling in Australia is the privileging of Standard Australian English,” she said.

“It wasn’t enough that First Nations peoples had been disposed of their lands, their children stolen but also their languages were silenced and it was dictated within the government controlled missions that English should be spoken.

“A supposedly superior language, the language of the oppressor, and just to make sure you didn’t know who the oppressor was let’s call that subject English.

“So I’m left asking, is subject English just another act of assimilation?”

Dr Hogarth told The Courier-Mail her provocation for renaming the subject was “first and foremost to identify that there is no definitive English language but many Englishes”.

“Within the rationale of subject English, it refers to the linguistic and cultural diversity of the country but then counters this by stating that you need to be able to communicate in Standard Australian English,” she said.

“I feel as though subject English is limited in describing what it is we do in the subject and therefore, alternatives such as Languages, Literacy and Communications provide a much better scope of the teaching and learning.”

Queensland Education Minister Grace Grace said there were “no plans to rename English as a subject”.

“We adopt the Australian Curriculum and that includes the teaching of English in schools,” she said.

Queensland Teachers’ Union president Cresta Richardson said English was currently taught with a variety of names in senior subjects, including English, English & Literature Extension, English as an Additional Language, Essential English, Literature, and Literacy.

“We believe that curriculum should be reviewed and updated to meet the changing needs of students and their communities and that any change in curriculum must be adequately resourced,” she said.

Dr Hogarth said she knew her ideas would be provocative and controversial - and perhaps even cause “anger” or “outrage” – but said she had received “amazing feedback” from colleagues and peers.

“But of course, the provocation does not have an easy answer and demands a strong reaction so I am sure there were others challenged by what I had to share,” she said.

“If these past 18 months has shown anything within the education space, it is the inequity within education so I would hope that the education community at the very least is open to any innovations and ideas for change that will make things better for all.”


Qld considers laws allowing magpies to be shot

Queensland may adopt NSW-style laws allowing magpies to be shot on sight following a baby’s freak death.

Today Show host Karl Stefanovic has slammed a council over baby's tragic death from a swooping magpie

Rogue magpies like the one responsible for the tragic death of a baby girl in a Brisbane park last week can be shot on sight by cops in NSW.

And Queensland Environment Minister Meaghan Scanlon has not ruled out similar laws here.

The baby, identified only as Mia, was crushed to death when her mother tried to duck a swooping magpie at Glindemann Park at Holland Park in Brisbane’s south last Sunday.

Brisbane City Council received five complaints about swooping magpies in the lead-up to the tragedy.

NSW police can and have used lethal force to control angry magpies if asked to do so by local councils.

Several magpies have been shot and killed by cops south of the border in recent years after launching aggressive attacks on passers-by during swooping season.

Sydney police pulled their guns on a ‘monster’ magpie in 2019 after more than 40 complaints to the local council.

In 2018, police shocked onlookers when they shot a rogue magpie outside a Lismore shopping centre.

In 2011, an aggressive magpie ordered destroyed by Tweed Shire Council was given a death row reprieve after reluctant police refused to pull the trigger.

A NSW Department of Environment spokesman some wildlife which posed a threat to public safety, including magpies, can be destroyed by permit.

“Wherever possible, the Department seeks to resolve negative interactions using non-destructive methods,” he said.

Environment Minister Meaghan Scanlon told the Sunday Mail she had not been approached by councils on proposals for any additional actions or powers.

“This was a tragic incident, and my thoughts go to the family,” she said of baby Mia’s death.

“Landholders have a general responsibility to manage the impacts of wildlife like magpies on their land, including councils where magpies are located in parks, reserves and on local roads.

“And councils are responsible for organising the removal and relation of native wildlife on their land, where appropriate, and installing signage during breeding season.”

Brisbane Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner launched an investigation into the council’s management of aggressive magpies following baby Mia’s death.

But he said he would not back the use of lethal force against the iconic Aussie birds.

“Firing weapons at magpies in highly populated suburban areas and busy public parks is just not practical or safe,” he told The Sunday Mail.


The despicable Punchard is going to jail after all

A police officer who leaked the home address of a friend’s ex-wife, after accessing a police database, has had a wholly-suspended prison sentence reinstated, after an appeal.

Senior Constable Neil Punchard had pleaded guilty to nine counts of using a restricted computer without consent, gaining the benefit of knowledge, in 2013 and 2014.

He successfully appealed against the sentence of two months jail, wholly suspended for 18 months, imposed by a magistrate.

Last year, District Court Judge Craig Chowdhury allowed the appeal, re-sentencing Punchard to 140 hours of community service.

But on Friday the Court of Appeal allowed an appeal by the Commissioner of Police and set aside Judge Chowdhury’s orders.

The appeal court heard that Punchard had already completed the 140 hours of community service.

But the appeal court judges said that fact “did not cause such an injustice” to the officer to be an impediment to their orders that would effectively reinstate the magistrate’s sentence.

Punchard used police databases to find the address of his friend’s ex-wife, who was forced to move after the officer revealed the information to his friend.

He had been aware of the significant acrimony between his friend and his ex-partner and advised his friend to tell her he knew where she lived.

The court heard the woman had not given her ex-partner her address because she maintained she was a victim of domestic violence.

Punchard gave wholehearted and enthusiastic assistance to his friend, abandoning any sense that he was a police officer, the appeal court said.

The appeal court found the material before Judge Chowdhury did not reveal any error by the sentencing magistrate or that the sentence was manifestly excessive.

Police Commissioner Katarina Carroll has previously said she would consider Punchard’s suitability to remain employed by QPS after the appeal process was finalised.


Inland rail: Costs could exceed $20 billion as project based on ‘inadequate’ business case

Another rail boondoggle

The Melbourne-Brisbane inland rail will likely cost more than $20 billion due to planning failures, a scathing inquiry has found.

A scathing Senate report – entitled ‘Inland rail: Derailed from the start’ and tabled to parliament this week – says delivery of the landmark rail line is governed by an out-of-date business case with costings that were “inadequate” from the start, leading to a failure to properly plan and implement the $14.5 billion project.

The Labor-led Senate committee is calling for a full updated business case review and a dedicated oversight inquiry to keep an eye on its construction – two measures which Coalition senators have already opposed.

The report has been welcomed by NSW Farmers and the Country Women’s Association of NSW, who together sought legal advice on dealing with the Australian Rail Track Corporation after repeatedly raising concerns with the agency’s community consultation processes.

NSW Farmers inland rail task-force chair Adrian Lyons said it was the first time the group felt their issues had been heard.

“ARTC have continually had a ‘crash or crash-through’ mentality when it comes to the execution of this project. Well today, they have crashed – in a major way,” Mr Lyons said.

CWA NSW chief executive Danica Leys said the report vindicated their concerns, calling the project a “basket case of mismanagement and budget blowouts”.

The Federal Government promised $8.5 billion for the 1700km track in 2017, which was then estimated to cost about $10 billion in total. But costs have already escalated, with the Government allocating another $5.5 billion to the project in December last year.

The Senate committee was told parts of the line’s construction had been underestimated by more than three times, compared with the 2015 business case, and costs were predicted to now exceed $20 billion.

“Whether inland rail’s 2015 business case remains valid in light of the substantial increase in capital required for its completion is a key question,” the report stated, adding that parts of the route were yet to be finalised.

“The committee continues to be confused as to how a business case can be relied upon if the end point of the inland rail, and therefore the costs involved, are still to be decided.”

The report also questioned why the Federal Government insisted on a “arbitrary” 24-hour journey time, as that requirement had restricted ARTC from looking at other alignments that might better benefit regional communities.

It said there were “significant shortcomings” in ARTC’s engagement with landholders, and questioned why the route’s end point in Brisbane had still not been finalised.

“It is a failure of the Australian and Queensland governments for this uncertainty to remain, despite over a decade of investigation into the Inland Rail corridor,” it read.

The committee made 26 recommendations, including:

* Setting up an ongoing inquiry for oversight of the project;

* An independent review and update of the 2015 business case;

* Integrate the rail project with the National Freight and Supply Chain Strategy;

* Investigate options to extend the line to the Port of Gladstone, in Queensland, and review the Narromine-Narrabri alignment in NSW; and

* Appointing an independent mediator to improve ARTC’s relationship with NSW Farmers and CWA, and improve local consultation processes.

Coalition senators opposed five of the 26 recommendations, as well as the report’s title: “The more appropriate title is that Labor has been determined to derail Inland rail from the start.”

The Government members stated calls for an oversight inquiry were unnecessary as the committee could question ARTC during Senate estimates three times a year, and did not support a review of the business case.

“A review, assessment or update of this business case would significantly impact the progress and stakeholders involved in the project, which is now well underway,” they said.

Originally published as Inland rail: Costs could exceed $20 billion as project based on ‘inadequate’ business case




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