||Issue No. 226||25 June 2004|
Interview: The New Democrat
Bad Boss: The Ugly Australian
Unions: Free Spirits and Slaves
Industrial: National Focus
History: A Class Act
International: Across the Ditch
Economics: Home Truths
Review: No Time Like Tomorrow
Poetry: Silent Note
The Locker Room
Est Maximus Tool
Just exactly what planet Federal Education Minister Brendan Nelson is on remains unclear this week after his bizarre outburst over the fundamental issues that face the nation's schools.
In the middle of a cold snap you would think this might be adequate heating in the many demountable classrooms around the state, or the fact that schools don't have enough paper or library books.
But no, our Tool Of the Week got right to the heart of a matter during an announcement that education funding would be linked to schools flying the flag.
"Some schools haven't even got a school motto!" cried Nelson in horror.
Having a school motto is something that is of significant practical benefit to, well, Brendan Nelson.
The Christian Brothers Old Boy is obviously impressed that many of his private school educated colleagues in the coalition have achieved remarkably well, despite having the I.Q. of a house plant.
Nelson is no fool, and he's got a certificate to prove it. He knows that without their school contacts most of these chaps would be struggling to hold down a park bench, let alone a seat in Parliament.
And what do all these private schools that offer such good employment prospects have in common? They have a motto!
Despite the fact that it's doubtful whether one in fifty people could remember their school motto they remain, in Brendan Nelson's eyes, the key to a modern well-rounded education.
Other foolish people may suggest that being able to read and write may be of some use in the educational process, but Brendan, along with his boss, know that what this country needs is a good swift dose of some snobbish irrelevance.
No doubt Brendan could help out those schools by providing them with a motto. Given the Federal Government's attitude to those who aren't related by marriage to the Downer family, or come from good stock, it would be easy for Brendan to think of something appropriate for the nation's public schools.
Why not 'Freedom Is Slavery'? Or 'Centrelink Awaits!'
They say that patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel, but that would be selling Nelson short, as he is considerably worse than a scoundrel. Only a complete Nelson could wrap up an education policy that sets out to re-establish a snobbish two-tiered education system with some pointless nationalistic hubris.
Is it any wonder that Nelson and his ilk have this sort of 'colour-by-numbers' approach to education? After all, they have a quaint nostalgic view of offering all kiddies the chance to experience Tom Brown's Schooldays, complete with jingoistic nonsense like flying the flag.
I guess it is only natural given that Brendan spent the best five years of his life in the fifth grade.
The scary part is that young Nelson is taking all this very seriously.
"We're sick and tired of reports turning up at home, which are meaningless with politically correct jargon," continued a breathless Nelson, who obviously prefers his own brand of political correct jargon.
The irony of all this is the mountain of red tape that will be generated as schools have yet another hurdle to jump before they can continue to be underfunded.
Brendan is an interesting chap with a rather colourful past. The one time member of the ALP has had more political positions than the Karma Sutra, yet it reveals the paucity of talent in the ranks of Australia's neo-conservatives that this intellectual midget can be touted as a potential future leader.
Meanwhile, the rest of us in the real world can only look on in fascination as our Tool Of The Week continues his bizarre and erratic intellectual orbit.
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