But I thought private schools were repositories of good values . . .

22 04 2008

After all, as John Howard told the American Enterprise Institute in March of this year, that’s why parents send their kids to non-government schools in Australia: they’re searching “for a more values-based education experience for their children.” At St. Patrick’s College in Mackay, some of those little angels have taken that “values-based” experience and produced the following:

A north Queensland Catholic school is offering counselling sessions for students after it was revealed an exclusive girls club is operating on the school campus.

Catholic Education has confirmed the group at Saint Patrick’s College in Mackay rank themselves according to looks, weight and popularity with boys.

The group is known as Club 21 and members write their ranking, from one to 21, on their wrists. [ABC News Online]

Throw in Internet Squadristi hi-jinks (“Ugly girls need not apply“), and claims by ex-members that “sleeping around, binge drinking and drug taking were all activities encouraged by the king pins of the group,” and what else could be it but a vindication of the former Federal Government’s schools funding policy?* Your tax dollars, hard at work. Read the rest of this entry »

The ghosts of Liberals past

23 02 2008

I just stumbled across this eerily prescient YouTube of a 1993 Four Corners panel discussion conducted in the wake of the 1993 Federal Election–the Coalition’s fifth successive defeat. On the panel are John Howard, Peter Reith, Robert Hill and Amanda Vanstone, and the audience is made up of “grassroots Liberals,” including a very vocal Sophie Mirabella.

I would love to get access to a copy of the entire discussion, which is quite lively. Howard and Vanstone attempt to put a shiny gloss on the five successive defeats, and emphasise the Liberal Party’s success at state level (basically the reverse of the situation after the 2004 election). Howard–signature hand gestures on full display–talks about “the future” and the need to distinguish the “modern Liberal Party” from its traditions.

At the end, presenter Andrew Olle mentions in passing that four Liberal Party members who were invited by the ABC to participate in the programme pulled out at the last minute because they were “told to.” This prompts loud protests from the panelists, who accuse Olle of innuendo and taking a “cheap shot,” without giving the panelists a chance to respond. Olle will have none of it: “It’s not an implication; it’s the truth.” Truly a sign of things to come regarding the rocky relationship between the 1996-2007 Howard Government and the ABC. Also a sign of things to come is the indignation and denialism displayed by Howard and co. in response to Olle’s remarks, given the control-freakery that would mark Howard’s tenure as PM. (You can hear Mirabella in the background yelling that the Liberal Party doesn’t “kneecap” people. This is the woman who twelve years later would label as “political terrorists” four members of her own who went public with their objections to the Howard Government’s treatment of refugees and asylum seekers.)

UPDATE: I can’t find an independent source for the information, but at Larvatus Prodeo Mark Bahnsich, discussing the Libs’ infantile behaviour in Parliament on Friday, writes:

It’s worth taking a step back to return to some of the little noticed coverage of this innovation in December. At the time, Liberal sources were quoted as worrying that a whole day for backbenchers would lead to their own MPs putting their feet in their mouth or prosecuting internal party disputes in the public eye. That says something about the state of the Coalition.

It certainly does, given Olle’s last-minute revelation on the 1993 Four Corners programme about Liberal Party members being ordered not to participate.

The dustbin of history pwns John Howard

18 02 2008

Need a pick-me-up? Watch tonight’s Four Corners:

Howard’s End

Reporter: Liz Jackson

Broadcast: 18/02/2008

For nearly a year John Howard lived with a spectre of humiliation – the increasing prospect of his government being tossed aside, his own Bennelong seat swamped in a Labor deluge.

At Kirribilli House on election night, November 24, he gathered with family, close friends and staffers to watch the TV coverage – and to witness his own power ebbing away.

He was ready.

He sort of just said, ‘Well, that’s it then, I’m dead meat‘,” his old right hand man Arthur Sinodinos tells Four Corners.

Howard drove to the Wentworth Hotel and delivered a graceful concession speech to grieving supporters before exiting, grey head slightly bowed. And that was that, after nearly 12 years as PM. To this day he has maintained his public silence.

But now senior colleagues are going public to reveal the machinations behind the scenes as John Howard led them to electoral annihilation. Former allies and long time foes speak candidly about Howard’s role in the defeat.

From the secret Howard-Costello succession “deal” in the mid 1990s, through the big policy gambles on WorkChoices and Kyoto, to the panic Newspoll and leadership angst of last year’s APEC, an array of key insiders – among them Peter Costello, Alexander Downer, Nick Minchin, Tony Abbott, Joe Hockey, Andrew Robb and Arthur Sinodinos – frankly assess the Howard Government’s slide to oblivion.

You’ll feel much, much better.

(BTW: Rudd’s preferred PM rating is up to 70%, the highest for any Australian PM in 20 years.)

Oh Noes!!

14 02 2008

I must be slipping in my old age: it took a casual visit to the Catch The Fire website to learn that

JOHN Howard’s controversial school chaplains program will be expanded to include any suitably qualified counsellor under an overhaul by the Rudd Government.Education Minister Julia Gillard’s office has confirmed the $90 million program will be changed into a secular scheme when current contracts expire.(Herald Sun)

Which is just as it should be, and should always have been, given section 116 of the Australian Constitution.

You can imagine Catch The Fire’s reaction . . . Read the rest of this entry »

Yesterday’s men

13 02 2008

May they remain forever irrelevant
, a fading memory of a small-minded, mean-spirited, xenophobic, socks-and-sandals Australia that should–like creationism–have been dead and buried decades ago.

Congratulations, Australia. Read the rest of this entry »