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“This is Australia, we speak ENGLISH here”

As a parent there is nothing more useful and informative than your child’s report card  because it lets you know where your offspring are succeeding and more importantly what part of their education needs further effort. As such I welcomed the introduction of NAPLAN testing because its nationally consistent methodology and its easy to comprehend reporting does a good job of telling parents where our children stand in relation to their fellows on the all important skills of literacy and numeracy I also like the fact that this is a test for which there can be no “cramming”. Which is why I found the piece in today’s Age rather strange:

click for source

I can’t help but think that Kevin Pope is entirely divorced form the real world and far too hung up with the ideology  of multiculturalism which seeks to accommodate new arrivals from other cultures rather than help them become part of the greater Australian  society. Kevin clearly needs to realise the same simple truth that my late  father in law used to enunciate to his mother when she would speak to him in their native Dutch “This is Australia, we speak ENGLISH here”  because there is no escaping the fact that all new arrivals and for that matter all indigenous people for whom English is a second language, will not find a fruitful life unless they are competent  in English. Language competency is the core business of our schools and If Kevin Pope can’t deliver that or at least give delivering that his best shot then surely he has no business being in the teaching game at all.

Cheers Comrades

Half a million page views at the Sandpit

I know that statistical miles stones are really meaningless but that does not stop you feeling pretty good when you reach them. Well if you keep an eye on the hit counter at the bottom of the page some time today I expect that you will see the counter tick over t0 the magical “500,000” mark . That is pretty good for a modest blog written as a bit of fun .

Thanks very much to all of those who take the time to read what I and my friends put up  here and a special thanks to all of those who take the time to comment and argue with what is on this web-page. Commentary and argument is the life blood of blogging and long may it keep pumping at the Sandpit.

Cheers Comrades

Tony Abbott appears confident he can take the prime ministership saying Labor had lost its legitimacy.

Opposition Tony Abbott speaks at the official Liberal party election night function at the Four Seasons hotel in Sydney. All the drama and tension from around the country as the votes are counted.

I think that Tony Abbott’s confidence is well placed on this occasion and it seems more than just likely that he will get enough support to from government, and as I watched Maxine McKew begin the recriminations for what was a terrible result for Labor I just knew that within Labor’s ranks the blood will flow and flow very freely indeed.

Mr Abbott told a crowd of party faithful at Sydney’s Wentworth Hotel shortly before midnight: “What is clear from tonight is that the Labor Party has definitely lost its majority and what that means is that the government has lost its legitimacy.”

Australia has a historic hung parliament after Julia Gillard’s Labor suffered a vicious backlash from angry Queensland voters in the tightest election result for decades.

A primary vote swing of 9.5 per cent cost the ALP nine seats as the state that handed Kevin Rudd victory three years ago turned on the woman who pushed him from leadership.

Ms Gillard, who started the campaign with a good lead, was facing the prospect of losing power after just 58 days as Australia’s first female prime minister.


With more than two-thirds of the vote counted, the two-party preferred swing against Labor in Queensland was close to 6 per cent.

Wyatt Roy, 20-year-old LNP candidate in Caboolture-based Longman, became the youngest person ever elected to Federal Parliament with an astounding win over veteran Labor member Jon Sullivan.

Labor casualties in Queensland included Arch Bevis, losing Brisbane after 20 years to Teresa Gambaro, who served in the Howard government.

Former Liberal MP Warren Entsch, who retired in 2007, had a comfortable victory in north Queensland.

Labor also lost the electorates of Dawson and Flynn, where the mining tax continued to be a key issue, as well as Forde and Bonner and the seats of Dickson and Herbert, which had sitting LNP members but were notionally Labor under boundary changes.

Australian Workers Union national secretary and Labor Party powerbroker Paul Howes refused to accept that Kevin Rudd’s dumping had backfired on the party in Queensland, instead blaming dissatisfaction with Premier Anna Bligh.

The punishment continued in NSW, particularly in western Sydney – once Labor’s heartland – where voter anger was palpable with a 6.7 per cent swing against the ALP.

Mr Abbott attempted to calm the crowd warning against “premature triumphalism” and urging measured reflection of the magnitude of the task ahead.

He agreed the caretaker provisions of the Labor Government should continue but said the result showed clearly “”the Coalition is back in business.”

Mr Abbott said a government which previously found it hard to govern effectively with a majority would never govern properly as a minority government.

“It’s pretty clear that the Australian people have responded to the clear policies we took to the election,” he said.

Mr Abbott said he would talk to the Independents over the next few days to ensure the Coalition could form a stable government worthy of the Australian people.

“”It has been a great night for the Australian people,” he said.

Mr Abbott told the crowd he loved its enthusiasm.

“But I have to say to you I feel humbled by the responsibilities that I feel could lie ahead.”

Mr Abbott also paid tribute to Prime Minister Julia Gillard.

“”The last eight weeks could not have been easy for her but she has certainly worked hard for her cause.”

But Mr Abbott added the election result was also a comment on the distaste Australians had for the political execution of former prime Minister Kevin Rudd.

The “knock on the door at midnight by the faceless men of Labor” should never be part of the Australian political equation, he said.

Personally I am delighted to have helped Peter Dutton across the line and I am really proud that Queensland has elected the youngest member of parliament in this country’s history with the victory of Waytt Roy in Longman. Of course I acknowledge that its is not yet set in concrete and that there will be some argy bargy with the conservative independents but I just can’t see that Labor has the legitimacy or the numbers to hold the treasury benches.

Its only fair to also acknowledge the fact that the Greens have also done very well in this election but They may well find that having the balance of power in the senate is a two edged sword that will make them have to grow up and learn the art of compromise , if they don’t then they will find that they will share the the fate of the late, and not so lamented Democrats

Cheers Comrades


Blood-letting in the west

Should comrade Gillard be sent to share a cell with citizen Garrett?

I have done a little bit of building and it staggers me that the costs of projects have been so inflated in the BER projects for state schools. The contrast between building in schools and building big offices is stark enough but the difference in value for money between private and public schools really cuts to the chase.

Under the scheme, private schools have self-managed projects outside the fee-heavy template structures of the state governments and have overwhelmingly received better value for money.

Mount Evelyn Christian School in Melbourne’s west is building a 1600 square metre architect-designed hall, which which will house two basketball courts, a rock climbing wall and a stage, among other things, for $2.27 million, or $1420 a square metre. By contrast the standard “14 core” communal hall and shade area being rolled out at hundreds of public schools costs $5700 a square metre.

Despite repeated requests, Education Minister Julia Gillard and the NSW education department have been unable to adequately explain why state schools were being forced to pay such high prices for structures.

In recent months both governments have shrugged off claims of cost blow-outs, claiming higher costs are a result of “higher quality” buildings and because of other specific costs such as managing contractors having to perform “working with children” checks.

However neither government has been able to show how BER school buildings were of a higher quality than other school buildings being delivered across the nation. Further, inquiries by The Australian have found working with children checks are not only free but, according to the NSW Working with Children program itself, are considered unnecessary for the scheme.

What disappoints me most about this stark proof of incompetence of Comrade Gillard and her state government co-conspirators is that so many people from the left are either ignoring this issue or playing it down, mainly because they don’t want to be seen to offering any support to the opposition.

But what it proves is that Comrade Gillard is just as incompetent at administration as citizen Garrett was with the Pink Batts, the only difference is that she has yet to have deaths on her watch.

Cheers Comrades


Deckchair follies or Garrett actaully gone

A few days ago I predicted that Garrett would soon lose his job . This announcement sees him stripped of all of the important parts of his portfolio, he is reduced to the “feel good” parts of the ministry . This is a decision that would make Sir Humphrey give us one of his knowing smiles. Garrett has effectively been emasculated here rather than shot for his incompetence but I don’t think that this will be the end of the issue in the minds of the public.

Source: The Australian

KEVIN Rudd has sacked Peter Garrett over his handling of the bungled $2.45 billion roofing insulation scheme and overhauled the government’s core climate change policies in the wake of the emissions trading scheme being put on hold until at least May.

As the Prime Minister moved to find a circuit-breaker to quell the air of crisis surrounding his government – by stripping the environment minister of responsibility for the roofing scheme, and appointing troubleshooter Greg Combet to fix the mess – he gave the Department of Climate Change a new energy-efficiency role.

“There is no point sugar-coating this,” Mr Rudd said, announcing the changes in Sydney.

“This does mean a different range and reduced range of responsibilities for Minister Garrett. Let us simply acknowledge that fact.”

But Tony Abbott said the government was in a “political panic” and Mr Rudd lacked the guts to sack Mr Garrett. His demotion would be “a small comfort to the tens of thousands of families who have suffered through this horribly botched home insulation program, that Mr Garrett remains in cabinet and continues to collect his salary”.

Now while there are certainly lots of people out there who are still willing to forgive Brother Number One almost anything because he ousted John Howard but I think that they are going to be out numbered by those who are starting to worry. If they took up the inducements and had their roof insulated they will be worrying big time. If they have private health insurance they will be worrying about it becoming too expensive to keep. If they use electricity they will be worrying about the way that this government wants to make their energy more expensive. If they think that our borders should be secure they will be worrying big time because this government has ceded our refugee resettlement programs to the people smugglers. If they are any kind of number cruncher, they will be worrying about the level of debt that has been incurred in all of our names and they will be wondering how it will be repaid. If they are environmentalist they will be worrying that this government put all of its eggs into the ETS basket and continue to do so even though the arse has fallen out of it.

I don’t know why any Labor voter would not be worried about this government while it does some deck chair shuffling the ship is still sinking and no matter how loudly our dear Brother Number One insists that the ice on the fore deck is their purely to cool the Gin and tonics we know that below it is the stokers (insulation installers) and those in the bowels of this ship (ordinary voters) who are laying down their lives as the sea begins to flood each successive compartment…

Perhaps Poseidon will heed the supplications of our dear Brother Number One because it is clear now that Gaea is far from amused by the monumental cock up in the insulation program and being served Petter Garrett’s ministerial balls is hardly enough when his incompetence should have required his head on that platter  along side the head of his master.
Cheers Comrades

Garrett Gone?

This is outrageous, and to be entirely frank I think that this revelation must seal Garrett’s fate and the end of his time as a minister.

Peter Garrett (picture from the Australian)

ENVIRONMENT Minister Peter Garrett has admitted he did not see a damning risk assessment of the federal government’s roof insulation program until 10 days ago, 10 months after it was delivered to his department because of concerns the scheme could lead to death or injury.

Kevin Rudd has revealed he was also in the dark about the taxpayer-funded report until February 11, the day Mr Garrett told parliament about its existence, despite it having been handed to the government in April last year.

The report from the consulting arm of law firm Minter Ellison gave specific warnings on house fires and property damage by dodgy installers, substandard batts and a department ill-equipped to roll out such a massive program.

To be unaware of such a damning report for this long when it contains such dire warnings about how the insulation scheme was going so horribly wrong is an example of gross negligence on the part of the minister. The writers of Yes Minister could not have invented a more bizarre example  bureaucratic incompetence even  if they had taken a whole shit load of drugs.

My prediction is that Garrett will reluctantly resign by the end of the week as the puss in this boil comes to a head

sadly for many homeowners who took up the scheme the fear and loathing will go on for very much longer.

Cheers Comrades


“About 80,000 households faced safety risks”

In the comments thread to my previous post the virtues of the Whitlem government came up because I invoked its memory in the picture that I had made to illustrate the piece. The discussion led me to concede that there were some reforms made by that government that have enduring value, an end to the “White Australia Policy ” was just one of them. The news that I heard yesterday that Garrett had announced an end to the disastrously lethal insulation scheme led me to wonder if we will be able to find any virtue in the Government of Brother Number One when we look back upon it with the benefit of hind sight some time in the future.

This cartoon from Nicholson sums up the governement's woes on this troubled scheme

KEVIN Rudd was standing by Environment Minister Peter Garrett last night after the government scrapped its botched $2.45 billion insulation scheme, admitting that about 80,000 households faced safety risks.

And the government released figures suggesting up to 160,000 homes had been fitted with sub-standard ceiling batts with minimal benefit to the environment.

After weeks of pressure, Mr Garrett announced the scheme’s immediate termination yesterday.

Declaring the risks “unacceptably high”, he blamed “unscrupulous, sometimes illegal and shonky operators” for problems in the scheme, which has been linked to four deaths, at least 87 house fires and alleged rorting.

He also released damning legal advice the government had received last April warning that the program could result in house fires and fraud, and might be of little benefit to the environment.

Mr Garrett dumped a major plank of his troubled Green Loans program and the government’s solar hot water scheme, plunging key environmental sectors into chaos and prompting outrage from green groups.

In the bloggosphere it has been clear that one of Brother Number One’s biggest election assets was the simple fact that he was NOT  John Howard the other was his  promise to scrap the very unloved “work choices”.  Now that he faces an election he will not be able to draw on the Howard haters for inspiration, in fact he is going to have to rely on the virtues of his government rather than the sins of his predecessor. His problem is that the virtues of his administration are actually rather thin on the ground.  Oh we have certainly have had the grand gestures like the signing of Kyoto and His apology to indigenous people but what substantive matters will we have to look back upon when we are looking at the “the Brother Number One years” ?

Not much by my reckoning. Its like I suggested with the picture for the previous post Brother Number One ‘s government comes from the same producers that gave us ” The Gough Years”  but I some how think that the minions of teh left will be hard pressed to  find virtue in the insulation scheme , the Eduction revolution, or the CPRS,  in fact I think that we will find that the only thing that they will seeas an enduring virtue is the fact that Brother number one can be thanked for ending the Howard tenancy of the lodge. Its not much to show after all of teh fanfare now is it?

This latest debacle from Brother Number One  has certainly improved the odds that this government will not be returned at the next poll.  The question is  how many  more policy disasters does there have to be , how many more houses have to burn down and how many young people have to die because of the schemes and   policies of  Brother Number One?

Cheers Comrades


How can we tell when our roofs are burning???

Well it seems like a case of frying installers or roasting residents to me…..

Figures obtained by The Weekend Australian show 172 fires have been linked to insulation or reported in ceiling cavities since the start of last year, but Mr Garrett’s spokesman said 86 fires had been linked to insulation installed under the program.

NSW Emergency Services Minister Steve Whan said the 67 insulation fires in the state last year and one this year were “concerning enough that an urgent public warning was immediately issued in November following advice from fire brigade statisticians”. This compared with 16 insulation fires in 2008.

NSW Emergency Services Minister Steve Whan said the 67 insulation fires in the state last year and one this year were “concerning enough that an urgent public warning was immediately issued in November following advice from fire brigade statisticians”. This compared with 16 insulation fires in 2008.

In Victoria, the number of fires involving insulation in a ceiling space doubled from 19 in 2008 to 38. Queensland reported 43 fires originating in the ceiling or roof space in the last six months of last year, compared with 35 for the 12 months to June 30 last year.

South Australia reported one such fire, down from two the year before, and in Canberra the ACT Coroner will investigate three house fires.

How can the minister remain in his job with the continuing revelations of disaster in the home insulation program?

What was it somebody said about a free lunch?

Cheers  Comrades


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