NSW Opposition Leader pro tem Peter Debnam was interviewed about Julie Bishop’s mouthing of her leader’s bright idea on ABC 702 this morning. He had his reservations about Federal control but welcomed a “debate” on curriculum content, which being translated means a Quadranting of the curriculum. Not really good news. I mean, let’s face it, for all this talk about left-wing ideologues screwing our children’s minds, in NSW at least Bob Carr and now Morrie Iemma have been quite conservative in their approach to education, much to the frustration of what you really might call left-wing ideologues. God knows, though it really is rather predictable, what kind of “debate” Debnam would initiate.
…Why would a political party that traditionally (purports to) believe in small government be proposing something as obviously Big-Brotheresque as a national curriculum? I have a couple of suggestions. First, there is the strong authoritarian streak among conservatives (whatever they may say), who see themselves as Strict Fathers looking after the interests of us wayward children…
So writes Arthur Vandelay, an English teacher in training in Perth. Read his post, written around the same time as mine. He has kindly linked back to mine in a footnote there, and I happily return the favour.
While I am no great fan of the Sleaze Ball, one of those bits of gay community self-indulgence that I can take or leave, I am amused by Mike Carlton’s linkage of that famous Sydney event with the Quadrant ruling elite’s orgy of self-congratulation during that same week. See PM selective about which bits he let hang out.
…The orgy of mutual admiration appears to have been about the same thunderous volume, although without the display of bouncing pink bits, but what you got was the political right congratulating itself on being right with an intellectual dishonesty that was, well, sleazy.
This we can judge from the Prime Minister’s speech, which had the usual media toadies stampeding to lavish praise upon it. A king hit in the culture wars, they assured us.
In fact, much of it was John Howard’s familiar boilerplate about the wickedness of the late Professor Manning Clark, the leftist conspiracy in education, black armband history and so on. (Surprisingly, the ABC did not cop a kicking.) Then on to the silly claim that Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, Pope John Paul II and Quadrant itself had saved the world from communism.
The blatant dishonesty came towards the end, with a brief nod at the war on terrorism. “It remains,” intoned Howard, “an inconvenient truth that if countries such as the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia simply abandon the people of Iraq this would be an enormous victory for the forces of terror and extremism around the world.”
No mention of the deceit and incompetence that got us into Iraq in the first place. Nothing on those non-existent weapons of mass destruction. Not a word to concede that the conflict has become a fiasco which, far from realising the neo-conservative fantasy of democracy and freedom in Iraq, has merely replaced the horrors of Saddam Hussein with the horrors of sectarian civil war and heightened the risk of terrorist atrocities elsewhere. And certainly no acknowledgement of the most inconvenient truth of all: that Australia’s outstanding contribution to the war has been $300 million swindled from the United Nations by the wheat exporter AWB and delivered in kickbacks to the bank accounts of Saddam’s henchmen. All on Howard’s watch…