Tag Archives: Tertiary Education

We Live In Messy Times

The Mess Age

Years ago, when I was in a band called… okay I’ll just call them ‘Mess Age’ for now. In Mess Age was the lead singer who was a long-suffering person with LSD – Lead Singer Disease of the Ego – and during the 196 election he quipped that if he ever won the election he’d nationalise everything and bunker up in Parliament, surrounded by the army. When I pressed him on why he thought nationalising everything would be a goo idea, he said he didn’t really know but it was the sort of thing Hitler might have done. When I asked him if he aspired to being like Hitler, he said, “not the killing Jews bit, but nationalising everything would make society equally unfair.”

Now, I’m not a communist nor a Stalinist, but I found it interesting that he thought true equality entailed being equally unfair on everybody. And the ramification was that people would hate him and so he would probably have to go to Martial Law and bunker up in Parliament House. It’s a peculiar vision from a peculiar person, but I’m sharing it with you now because it seems oddly relevant.

If you come to power and forcefully enact a raft of policies that are deeply unpopular, you can expect the peasants to revolt, so you may even have to mobilise the army for Martial Law. Tony Abbott isn’t exactly nationalising everything, but he’s ripping whole planks of our social contract to shreds. He can legitimately look forward to people coming together forming unlikely alliances to confront him. In the same sense, if it should go to a Dismissal, he may actually be the sort of person lacking in common sense that would mobilise the army against its own citizenry.

The Price Is Wrong

I know I write about education a lot but with each passing day I have yet another reason why the current budget is wronger than wrongness itself when it comes to education. The Coalition is trying to put in a $7 co-payment for every GP visit. This is a deliberate plan to put in a disincentive for people going to the doctor. If $7 is supposed to deter you form the doctor, then presumably $20,000 is supposed to deter you from your education. It strikes me that a government that could do with more knowledge workers want to put in even bigger disincentives for education than already exists. The world is only going to get even more technologically demanding, be more in need of scientific rigour, in need of wider understanding of our humanities; none of these demands upon people is going to be less in the future. Why in God’s name would you be erecting serious barriers for getting an education?

The downside of such policies beyond the evils of inequality and locking in privileges for the rich is that through the lack of mobility in such a society, our academies will genuinely wilt in quality and output. For all this talk of competition, it is in fact diminishing genuine competition for the best minds. I’m certainly no friend of the sandstone monstrosities we love to hold up as our glorious universities, but I have to say our lives and future would be much worse if their doors narrowed so that only the rich can get in. Unless we want to be like a third world nation, it’s really not an option that should be countenanced by a major party – even a seemingly brain dead conservative one.

But Who Can Take Over?
Yes, that is the question as Dear Leader Tony Abbott continues in his unsustainably unpopular ways; it’s almost like a bad parody of Julia Gillard’s time as  Prime Minister. At approval ratings of 30%, L’Abbottoir is hitting the same kind of nadir as Julia Gillard. Naturally we must ask ourselves whether this is Malcolm Turnbull’s Kev-Return moment. If one were a tea-leaves reading prognosticator, one might be persuaded that there was a game afoot, but seeing that these are conservatives, it is against their very nature to rock the boat in government. It was certainly the case with Peter Costello who mumbled complaints about not getting a go as PM, all the way to a quick retirement from Federal politics. These conservatives just don’t do spills with the exhibitionistic fancy-pizazz of the ALP or an award night for porn stars.

The other candidates that might or could replace Tony Abbott are actually not that inspiring. You can count Joe Hockey out for he too is tainted by this lousy budget. Julie Bishop inspires no hope (which makes her hope-less by definition). Morrison, Pyne and Hunt simply won’t do because they’re the faces fronting for divisive policies, while Kevin Andrews is too inane. So that leaves Malcolm Turnbull once again but you can sort of see the right wing hard cases squirming in their seats at the thought of the member for Wentworth lording it all over them again. In other words, they’re talentless as well as gormless.

Thus we may yet be stuck with Tony Abbott thanks to a spineless clueless Liberal Party room. They may therefore stick with this lousy excuse for a budget, much of which likely won’t pass this Senate or the next, thanks to its enduring intrinsic lousiness. They might find themselves backed into a double dissolution even without Governor General Peter Cosgrove having to sack Tony Abbott (although that remains a fat juicy fantasy shared by many bloody-minded observers). We can only hope and dream.



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