Andrew James Whalan

Poet Blogger Writer

Tag: Politics (page 2 of 3)

The Government of Gobbledygook

After the week in politics, I realised how much I miss Yes Minister (and Yes Prime Minister too!). I especially miss Sir Humphrey Appleby.

Ostensibly Appleby often spoke in riddles,paradoxes and contradictions. His self articulation was comprised of and constituted obfuscation and circumlocution both written and verbal.1249432_54026452

Yet given the fullness of time, as he would say, it was possible to make sense of what he said. Certainly he made more sense than at times nearly indecipherable academic writing I encountered as a student and the business speak I encountered as a technical writer and trainer. Again in the extended fullness of time, I managed to make sense of both.

Appleby was a master of rhetoric. He knew his content (too well), his purpose (power) and his audience. As a result he often prevailed over Jim Hacker.

Unlike the Government. Here are only a few examples.

We’ve had Matthias Corman say there will be no cuts to the ABC despite Mark Scott’s view. We’ve had Malcolm Turnbull carefully craft words to defend Tony Abbott’s pre-election promises. Without too much effort I could find many more.

Despite what Andrew Bolt says, the Government lacks purpose, has lost connection with its audience and cannot express even simple let alone complex content. As Michelle Grattan points out in this article and also Katherine Murphy‘s comments regarding the ABC and climate change, the government has become inarticulate and incoherent.

In other words, not to put too fine a point on it, we have a government of gobbledygook.












Ban the Burqa Keep The Veil (Now That’s Ironic)

It’s time. Time to call out some ironies.

Jacqui Lambie is proposing a law to ban the Burqa.

So many ironies to choose from…

By now the Senator should be aware that the Burqa isn’t worn in this country but the Niqab is. Ironic.

Her proposed law may have to be amended anyway. Even more ironic.

The law as it stands may be unconstitutional. Most ironic.

But there’s more much more…

It’s ironic that Christian women take the veil when they become a nun. Yet its unlikely any law will be passed banning nuns wearing veils.

It’s ironic that some Christian sects also mandate that women wear a veil as well and use the Bible as justification. Yet its highly unlikely their members will be banned or fined.

It’s ironic that politicians quite openly criticise other religions and cultures that enforce women wearing headwear including penalties or punishments.

And the biggest irony of all. This is not a debate about religion.

Telling women what they should or shouldn’t wear isn’t religious.

It’s sexist. Now that’s ironic.


Vale Gough Whitlam

Having heard the sad news of Gough Whitlam, it reminded me of this.

Many years ago I was asked to scrutineer (check the validity of votes cast as they were counted by the electoral officers) for a friend running for office.
Luckily as the son of two political parents, I learnt scrutineering at my mother’s knee.

In this case, my friend was one of two candidates for this office so the job was as easy as could be. But I had a pleasant surprise.

On one of the ballot papers, someone had neatly printed Whitlam,E. G. added a box and had filled in the number 1 leaving the other candidates blank.
On the day of his passing all I can do is agree!

Earn or Learn : The Government’s Misunderstood Purpose of Education

There has been much upset and anger at the Government instigated changes to education:

  • University fee increases.
  • University debt interest increase.
  • University HECS proportion increase.
  • Commercialisation of universities.

The proponents chant earn or learn, competition will work its magic, fees will be less and new university places will be created.

The opponents are derided as leaners, bludgers, selfish thugs and bullies.

Now that the name-calling has begun, there can be no argument.


That’s not the real argument.

That’s not the real debate.

Separately the above changes are disquieting.

Together the above changes show the Federal Government and its associated interest groups don’t understand the real purpose of education.

Earn or Learn : The Misunderstood Purpose of Education

We’re being told through the post-Budget earn and learn mantra that the purpose of education is to get a job. Easily said from a comfortable corporate armchair. Especially given the assumption that there’s enough educational capacity for those who want to learn and there are enough jobs for those who have learnt. Neither are true: in general, there are more unemployed than can be educated and there are less jobs for those who have the correct education.

The purpose of education is not to just get a job. If that was the case education would be purely pedagogical, utilising knowledge and skills for a specific predetermined purpose. Andragogy or adult learning as we know it would not exist. How then could anyone explain how adults and children too of their own accord become self-taught experts in subjects that may or may not be part of the school curriculum without regard to the possibility of being employed.

The purpose of education is not to just get a job. If that was the case then anyone who finishes a qualification and then gets a job has all the knowledge and skills required. They have the qualification, they don’t need to learn any further. But from personal experience and existing research, much education (up to 70%) occurs on the job. Which means the employee is still learning despite attaining the right qualification.

The purpose of education is not to just get a job. If that was the case then the Greeks, Romans, Chinese, Arabs, just to name a few or during the Renaissance or the start of the adult educational movement, would not have learnt and then recorded much more knowledge and skills than was required to fulfil just a job. And here is a clue.

The purpose of education is not to just get a job. If that was the case then there would be no opponents to third-world girls and women being educated. After all better schooled girls and women would make better mothers and wives. And in the opposition to women being educated whether in Nigeria, Afghanistan, Sierra Leone, etc lies the clue.

Beyond a Job: The Real Purpose Of Education

The purpose of education is not to just get a job.

  • The purpose of education is to learn new knowledge and skills and create new opportunities for yourself that you never thought existed. Ask any self-taught expert.
  • The purpose of education is to learn and educate others. Wherever and whenever with whoever. Whether it’s in the workplace or home or community. And learn from others. Anyone who has ever taught anyone anything knows implicitly that every learner is a teacher and every teacher a learner. Ask any adult educator, they’re still learning.
  • The purpose of education is to create new ideas and concepts to create opportunities for others that no-one though existed. Wherever and whenever with whoever. Ask any artist or entrepreneur.
  • But the real purpose of education is to change yourself. And others. And the world.




Cory Bernardi and Freedom of Speech

Much has been made of the recent comments by Senator Cory Bernardi regarding his book the Conservative Revolution (see the reviews and Twitter). All I will say is that I disagree with him. Based on his expressed values I almost certainly won’t read his book. And like Bill Shorten I can give personal examples!

It won’t be long until comments are offered that Cory Bernardi is exercising his freedom of speech. It may look like I’m ghost writing for Andrew Bolt or Piers Ackerman. There may even be an appeal to the new Human Rights Commissioner for Freedom Tim Wilson.

And according to the framers of free speech (warning: Wikipedia reference!), he should express his opinion without fear of penalty.

Why? Implicit in the right to free speech is that it is a right for all. Freedom of speech is for everyone.

Which presents a problem for those like me who disagree strongly.

It’s way too easy to tell him to shut up or insult him. Some have already.

The problem with that is my explicit and implicit attitude : the only person who should exercise freedom of speech is me and me alone.

Which means I can enjoy my moment of free speech. And silence everyone else’s freedom of speech.

Which mean freedom of speech is lost in the long run for me and for everyone else.

The LNP Know Nothings : Criticism Without A Solution

If you examine politics sooner or later one finds some trends that repeat themselves.

English: Flag of the Know Nothing or American ...

English: Flag of the Know Nothing or American party, c1850 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One of these is the LNP’s approach to politics.

It is almost completely negative and oppositional.

But it is not the first time that this approach has been tried and failed. Let me take you back in time.

When One Nation first appeared on the Australian political landscape in the late 90s, Bob Carr wrote an article comparing them to the failed conservative American Party of the nineteenth century.

The American Party members were known as the Know Nothings! And Carr drew the same comparison with One Nation.

Both One Nation and the American Party failed politically as they were completely negative and made promises that they failed to deliver.

That comparison now even more accurately describes the LNP’s approach to politics.

Every question asked is steered back to the current negative talking point. And any promises made, for example, stop the boats, more jobs, etc, etc aren’t explained in detail if at all.

What detail given is scarce. Examples of this abound, Greg Hunt‘s interview regarding Direct Action on Lateline, Scott Morrison‘s interviews regarding immigration, Joe Hockey‘s interviews regarding the economy, Tony Abbott‘s recent comments regarding the Gonski reforms and education funding, Tony Abbott’s comments regarding funding infrastructure, etc.

In truth it is boring know-nothing politics.

All in all, the LNP have failed the first rule of debating: first criticise, then provide a specific solution.

Until that changes, they are merely an opposition not an alternative government.

Why I’m UnAustralian

Being unAustralian is an epithet often levelled at people who don’t tow the line or aren’t politically correct.

English: Orthographic map of Australia centere...

English: Orthographic map of Australia centered at 26.75° S, 133.25° E. Official territory. Claimed territories. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In that case I better explain myself.

  • I believe in that Australia is a welcoming country where people of all races, colours and creeds put aside their differences to live as harmoniously as they can. Despite the stories we hear, harmony happens more often than not.
  • I believe that Australia’s strengths lie in the diversity of its people. Only in Australia can a diverse company supply interpreters at short notice!
  • I believe that Australia should help people from other countries as well as our own including the Aboriginals. As an immigrant country it is obvious to support those who emigrate here however they got here as well as those who were here first.
  • I believe too that the fortunate should help the less fortunate. Australia has enough riches and resources (even now when we have a AAA+ Credit Rating) to assist the disabled, children with learning difficulties, etc, etc. We’ve done it in the past!
  • I believe too that we should manage our resources from a long-term view (and sustainably so). After all as colonists and original owners of the land we had to!

Apologies in advance to those who believe that being Australian means being:

  • monocultural.
  • racist.
  • discriminating by religion, race or sexual orientation.
  • favouring the rich over the poor.
  • depleting our resources in the short term unsustainably.
  • being uncharitable to the unfortunate, original land owners and immigrants.

Such things make a small country smaller!

What Does the Ultimately Downsized Government Do?

With the death of Margaret Thatcher, many people have been reflecting upon her legacy.

Since her time as Prime Minister of Great Britain, governments of all colours have rolled back their dominance through spending cuts, tax cuts, withdrawal of services, privatisation and/or deregulation.

As the GFC and its after effects continue, austerity is the new watch word. Countries like Greece, Italy, Spain, Great Britain, USA and France are struggling due to even more tax and spending cuts, privatisation, withdrawal of services, etc.

Even when governments change (See France ), the incoming administration struggles to replace what is lost. The loss of revenue and spending cuts create difficulties in replacing what has been lost. Even Australia despite its world class economy will face this problem if there is a change of government.

This trend to roll back government raises the following question:

What does the ultimately downsized government do?

  • Are they reverting to the nineteenth century role of administering defence, foreign affairs, law and trade?
  • Will downsized governments have no role in the areas of health, education and social security?
  • What then happens to the poor, homeless, sick, unemployed, old, disabled and unfortunate?
  • What about the attendant social dislocation?

What does the ultimately downsized government do?


Trolls and Insults….If all you can do is call me names then you have run out of facts!

Often on Twitter I am witness to many different conversations both great, good, bad and truly vile.

One I just witnessed was the use of the insult:


Unfortunately, the insult landed. VanBadham’s father recently died (of cancer on the 19th March 2013).

Her response to my (and many many others) sympathy and to the insults was one of grace and courage.

My response might help. This is how I won my one and only argument.

After being really insulted I was exasperated.

All I said was: “If all you can do is call me names then you have run out of facts!”

Then argument ended. And I felt sorry like Van Badham for the arguer too!

An opportunity was missed to learn something new. Not just facts that don’t fit their world view. But  grace and courage to disagree and accept disagreement in return.

Which is actually fun!

The Boring ALP Leadership Soap Opera!

English: Kevin Rudd, 26th Prime Minister of Au...

English: Prime Minister of Australia Julia Gil...

Yet again I turn to the political section of the newspaper. Yet again I feel I am reading the script of a soap opera. But the same scene and same dialogue is being replayed.

More stories on the Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard leadership crisis! Should Kevin be leader instead of Julia? Should some one else? It should be newsworthy. It isn’t. It’s boring. I’ve heard it all before. Sorry Michelle Grattan, Peter Hartcher, Paul Sheehan, Katharine Murphy and Stephanie Peatling and your colleagues, I’m not interested any more. Here’s why.

Who leads the country is important, that is true. But changing leaders doesn’t change what politics is really about:

  • What will the leaders and their parties do in the short term and long term?
  • How will they do it?
  • And most importantly why?

The leadership soap opera doesn’t answer these questions. Neither does your coverage of it.

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