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This website is in imminent danger of being shut down. It has been online since 1995, but the personal circumstances of the owner, Malcolm Farnsworth, are such that economies have to be made. Server costs and suchlike have become prohibitive. At the urging of people online, I have agreed to see if Patreon provides a solution. More information is available at the Patreon website. If you are able to contribute even $1.00/month to keep the site running, please click the Patreon button below.


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Gillard And Swan Look To The Election

In statements published today, Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Treasurer Wayne Swan have sought to frame the political debate in this election year.

GillardAs Gillard overtakes Kevin Rudd’s 935 days as prime minister, she has written a piece for the Sunday Telegraph in which she talks about her family’s background in a Welsh mining village and her consequent attitude to education, jobs and fairness. Gillard portrays herself as a prime minister “getting the big things done” to create opportunity.

Gillard depicts her government as one “with security as our foundation stone”. She presents the National Disability Insurance Scheme as the modern complement to Medicare, and the National Broadband Network as essential to Australia’s future economic growth. Most of all, she stresses the importance of education: “We have to be smarter.”

The statement says “we’ll never again see a world without global warming”, but makes no mention of the carbon tax or the eventual emissions trading scheme.

Like Gillard, Swan talks of the nation’s spirit of optimism and of “reforms to secure our future”. In his weekly Economic Note, the Treasurer stresses that Australia is in “the box seat” to take advantage of the global economy as it tilts toward Asia.

Swan talks up “hard fought reforms like pricing carbon, building the NBN, or huge reforms in health, aged care, mental health, taking a million taxpayers out of the system by tripling the tax-free threshold, paid parental leave, the Schoolkids Bonus or the biggest boost to the pension this country has ever seen.”

Text of statement from Prime Minister Julia Gillard, as published in The Sunday Telegraph.

The 28th of December would have been my parents’ 55th wedding anniversary.

No matter what else is happening, you can never fill the gap left by the loss of a loved one.

So I was in a reflective mood this Christmas and I took that feeling with me to Sydney as I welcomed the New Year. There were fireworks and bubbly all around me but I was concentrating on memories of the past and plans for the future.

Whether you remember the past as an easier, happier time or a harder, lonelier time depends on your own circumstances and journey through life.

But however you remember it, there is no going back there. You can’t change it or relive it. But you can plan for and shape the future.

What’s true for individuals, is true for our nation and our world. [Read more…]


Julia Gillard And Bob Hawke Speak At Woodford Folk Festival

Prime Minister Julia Gillard has appeared at the Woodford Folk Festival with her Labor predecessor Bob Hawke.

Gillard told the gathering that the “big decisions” made by her government “would have been effectively the same” even if the government had not operated in a minority.

She said that she wanted to launch the National Disability Insurance Scheme on July 1st and deliver “further education reforms” before “we get around to winning that election”. [Read more…]


Tony Abbott At Oxford: On Tradition, A Revived Colombo Plan, And Decision-Making

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has addressed The Queen’s College, Oxford, on his experience as a Rhodes Scholar at “this enchanted place”.

Tony AbbottAbbott remembered his “sense of belonging” as his plane flew low up the Thames Valley and gave him his first adult view of Westminster Abbey, the Houses of Parliament, St Paul’s Cathedral and the Tower of London.

Of Oxford’s values, Abbott said its most important tradition is the contestability of ideas. “There are few subjects on which it can ever safely be assumed that we have heard the last word. There are hardly any arguments where right is all on one side. Truth matters – it matters as much as anything – but it is far more likely to be approached than ever finally to be grasped. This insatiable curiosity and ceaseless questioning that Oxford at its best embodies is the hallmark of Western civilisation (especially in its English-speaking versions) and provides our comparative advantage among the cultures of the world.”

On his approach to experts and policy-making, Abbott said: “As those who worked with me as a minister can attest, my style is to consult with the people that a government decision could impact and to work out for myself what are its real pros and cons. The next Coalition government won’t take an “officials know best” approach to the problems of the nation and won’t make decisions that impact on people’s lives without, as far as is possible, taking them into our confidence first.

Abbott acknowledged that “this century will inevitably be more of an Asian one than the last”. He said a coalition government would “swiftly re-establish the Colombo plan as a two-way street student exchange under which Australia’s best and brightest can study in our region’s universities as well as theirs in ours. It’s my hope that this new Colombo plan will become the Rhodes scholarship of our region.”

Transcript of Tony Abbott’s Address to The Queen’s College, Oxford, UK.

Like about a million other Australians, including Prime Minister Gillard, who also came to Australia as a child, I was born in Britain. As well as people, the British Isles have given Australia our language, our system of law and our parliamentary democracy. The conviction that an Englishman’s home is his castle and faith in British justice, no less than the understanding that Jack is as good as his master, have taken strong root in Australia. As my former teacher, Father Ed Campion, used to say of our country: the English made the laws, the Scots made the money, and the Irish made the songs!

So when the plane bringing me back to Britain flew low up the Thames Valley and I saw for the first time as an adult Westminster Abbey, the Houses of Parliament, St Paul’s cathedral and the Tower of London, I had a sense of belonging, not because I was born here but because our culture was. Australians shouldn’t be oblivious to our heritage just because we have refined it and improved it and because we also honour the way it has been added to and deepened by the people of many other cultures who have been attracted to it. [Read more…]


Gonski: Gillard Announces New School Funding Arrangements

Prime Minister Julia Gillard has announced new school funding arrangments in response to the Gonski report.

Julia Gillard

 

The funding changes will start in 2014, after the next election. Major changes will be phased in over the years to 2020. [Read more…]


Kevin Rudd: Building An Asia-Literate Australia

Queensland Labor backbencher Kevin Rudd says Australia is failing to do enough to become China-literate and Asia-literate in the 21st century.

Kevin RuddLaunching a paper, “Finding a Place on the Asia Stage”, by Carillo Gantner and Allison Carol, at the University of Melbourne’s ASIALINK centre, Rudd said there has been a decline in the teaching of the four principal languages of Asia: Chinese, Japanese, Indonesian and Korean.

As “an outpost of the Occidental world”, Rudd said Australia needs to “do more work in understanding the minds..of Asia”. Despite a belief that English is now the universal language, Rudd said the truth is “the bulk of the intellectual discourse, political and policy debate as well as economic exchange within Asia occurs in languages other than English.”

Rudd posed the question: “How much is literally being ‘lost in translation’ in straightforward transactions between individuals, corporations and governments, not to mention the media, everyday around China, Asia and the world.” [Read more…]


A Flurry of Activity – and it’s only January 7

The federal government and opposition have been busy today, even though it is only the first week of January.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard has been in Western Australia where she held a press conference about the education tax rebate and other issues. [Read more…]


Rudd And Gillard Promote National Education Curriculum

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and his deputy, Julia Gillard, have promoted the proposed national curriculum for schools during a visit to a Canberra school.

Speaking at Amaroo School, Rudd said the national curriculum was “a key pre-election commitment”. Australia would have a national curriculum for the first time in 2011. “This is in English, it’s in maths, it’s in science, it’s in history, and what we’re on about is making sure the absolute basics of knowledge, the absolute basics of education, are taught right across the country.”

As Education minister, Gillard said: “Curriculum has often been a mystery, a mystery for parents, for employers, they didn’t know what was being taught in Australian classrooms. We’re taking a very different approach. It’s there on the web for all to see and for all to comment upon.” [Read more…]


Pyne and Gillard Debate Waste in the BER Program

Christopher Pyne and Julia Gillard have clashed over alleged waste and mismanagement in the Building the Education Revolution program.

The Opposition’s Shadow Minister for Education proposed a Matter of Public Importance in the House of Representatives this afternoon.

The Minister for Education, Julia Gillard, responded to Pyne. [Read more…]


Education Revolution: Rudd And Gillard Launch Quality Education Plan

The Rudd government has released a “Quality Education” plan as the next chapter in its “Education Revolution”.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard said that a “world class education system” is needed “to help build a stronger economy for Australia’s future”.

The plan is in three parts: improving the quality of teaching, measuring school performance and helping disadvantaged school communities. [Read more…]


An Education Revolution In Our Schools: Rudd And Gillard Announce School Reform Agenda

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Education Minister Julia Gillard have announced a school reform agenda that they have dubbed an Education Revolution.

The program aims to improve the quality of teaching and reward top teachers. It proposes a program of measuring school performance, including the public reporting of the progress of schools on key measures, including national test results.

The plan was unveiled by the Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, during his address today to the National Press Club. [Read more…]