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A few people I have spoken to over the last couple of weeks, people who are otherwise intelligent as far as I can tell, have told me they intend to vote for the Greens in the Senate.

When asked why, they usually respond by saying they think the Greens will do a better job of protecting the environment.

So I ask if they can tell me about any specific Greens policies.

‘No. Well, they’re in favour of the environment.’

‘OK. How do their specific policies differ from those of the Labor or Liberal parties?’

No answer.

The Greens win votes by making sure people don’t know about their policies. There’s just a general fluffy, let’s be nice to green things and furry things feel about them.

But there is nothing green or pleasantly furry about the Greens.

Just consider two Greens policies, one which will impact on everyone, and one which will impact on a few in real need.

First, the Greens have made it clear that if Labor depends on them, even occasionally, to get legislation through the Senate, the price of their co-operation will be a carbon tax.

A Carbon tax will have no positive effect on the environment.

Human activity has had a miniscule impact on the level of CO2 in the atmosphere – from about 3 particles per 10,000 to about 4 particles per 10,000.  And that is assuming we are to blame for all of that small increase over the last 100 years. But we don’t know. It really is just an assumption. CO2 levels change all the time. They have been much higher in the past, and sometimes lower.

Higher is good. During the Carboniferous period, when most modern trees evolved, temperatures were about the same as they are now. CO2 levels were three times higher than now. At current levels, trees and other green things are Carbon deprived. For plants, surviving at current levels of CO2 is like our surviving on Oxygen depleted air. Less CO2 means less green, not more.

More CO2 means better crops, and more resilience in forests and wetlands.

So a carbon tax is bad for the environment. It is also bad for industry, because it is a tax on energy, which means it is a tax on transport, manufacture, travel, power generation, etc, etc, etc.

Everything will be more expensive, for no point whatever.

This is what voting for the Greens means.

A second Greens policy is the closure of the Lucas Heights reactor.

I have mentioned this to a few people, and the response is always something like: ‘Well that’s OK. Good. We don’t need any nuclear reactors in Australia anyway.’ 

Actually we do. They are a cheap, clean, sustainable form of energy production that will reduce our dependence on coal and imported fuels. But that is not the immediate point.

The Lucas Heights reactor produces the isotopes required for nuclear medicine. Radiotherapy. Diagnosing and treating cancer.

1.5 million doses of nuclear medicine (radiotherapy) are administered in Australia every year.

If the Greens have their way on this, cancer patients in Australia will die because a basic modern form of treatment will not be available to them.

Know what you are voting for.

This is honestly one of the funniest things I have ever seen:

There was a time when, even though left leaning, The Age stood for clear reporting, and the best of liberal values, in the sense of being fair and open.

That has not been the case for many years.

The Age has become more and more rigidly dogmatic, biased in its ‘factual’ reporting of political matters, and resistant to the expression of alternative (conservative) views in its opinion pages.

So it is no surprise to see that in the last quarter, its circulation has fallen by 4.5%.

Other print dailies are also experiencing declines. Some of that decline is because of the growing use of internet news sources. Newspapers are expensive, and hard work by comparison.

But why is The Age suffering more than most?

I can only answer for myself. I used to buy it reasonably regularly. But I no longer do, for the same reason I now very rarely watch the ABC.

It is not that there are views expressed there I disagree with. I usually read the appalling Monthly, and the just as appalling Eureka Street. I want to know what people who see things differently from me are thinking, and I often learn from them. Those journals are often wrong, but they are generally honest.

It is rather that both The Age and the ABC claim to be news organisations, and claim to be balanced. They are neither. Both use creative editing to frame news stories to match their political agendas in ways that mislead or distort.

I don’t like that. I don’t like being lied to.

Two things need to happen to return the ABC and The Age to respectability, and to higher circulation, viewing, and reading figures.

First, there needs to be a real commitment to honest factual reporting.

This might include, for example, noting the claims of Julia Gillard’s minders that she was speaking ‘off the cuff’ at her campaign launch, and her own implication that this was so, and then reporting that this was not so, and questioning why Julia and her minders might wish to deceive the media and the public about this.

No, it’s not going to happen.

The second is that there needs to be room in both The Age and the ABC for expression of alternate views. The one-sided badgering of Liberal party politicians on the ABC, and the stacking of panels and audiences, is so common that an exception would be newsworthy. The Age has not one conservative columnist, and conservative opinions on the letters pages are so scarce as to be invisible.

This policy of exclusion doesn’t win votes, readers, watchers even amongst left wingers.

Most Labor voters I know are fair-minded people, and happy to hear and consider views other than their own. Being wrong doesn’t make them stupid.

So dear Age editors, if you need a conservative commentator, and you do, I am willing to consider offers.

A big group of scientists whose funding depends on continuing to scare people about climate change have produced a report saying climate change is scary.

This is news, apparently.

Older news is that Phil Jones still can’t find the data on which much of the warming warnings were based.

What Phil has admitted is:

  • There has been no statistically significant warming since 1995.
  • The world has been warmer before.
  • There was a period of warming from 1920 to 1940 which was not caused by human activity. And there have been lots of earlier periods of warming which were also entirely natural.

But Phil and the other scary scientists still insist the similar warming from 1975 to 1995 must, absolutely, really, have been caused by human activity and nothing else.

So please keep giving them billions of dollars or otherwise really horrible things will happen, like maybe Greenland being green again, and being able to grow grapes in Britain.

Right. Sure.

Based on comments by Engineer and Mick Davis on Andrew Bolt’s blog.

Labor’s Report Card

20/20 SummitFAIL

Millions of dollars of your money wasted. No ideas from summit implemented.

Aboriginal HousingFAIL

$300 million of your money spent, no houses built.

Grocery WatchFAIL

Millions of dollars of your money wasted, no outcome.

Fuel WatchFAIL

Millions of dollars of your money wasted, no outcome.

Private Health RebateFAIL

Core election promise broken, more taxpayers funds wasted.

Federal Takeover of Health ServicesFAIL

Core election promise broken, millions in taxpayer funds wasted, no result.

Super ClinicsFAIL

31 promised in 2007, 2 built at $6 million each (twice the estimated cost if built by private practitioners). More of your money wasted.

Mining TaxFAIL

First ‘back of the envelope’ plan would have sabotaged Australia’s key industries. Gillard’s revision unworkable. Budget figures including income from this tax now short billions of dollars.

‘Free’ Home Insulation – FAIL

$2.5 billion of your money wasted, 4 deaths, 200 house fires, another $1 billion to fix.

Solar Panel SchemeFAIL

Blow-out of $850 million on untested technology. Scheme scrapped, rebates discontinued, workers unemployed.

Foreign Relations – FAIL

Former positive relationships with Indonesia, East Timor, China, Israel, now confused or strained.

Green LoansFAIL

Program dumped after $175 million blow-out. No measureable outcomes. Auditors/inspectors unemployed.

Building the Education RevolutionFAIL

$18 billion of your money spent – $1000 from every Australian. No local consultation. Schools that needed gyms got libraries, schools that needed libraries got halls. Wholesale rorting, sub-standard buildings. Up to $8 billion wasted.

School ComputersFAIL

One billion dollars of your money blew out to $2.2 billion. Less than one third of promised computers delivered.

National Broadband NetworkFAIL

A $5 billion policy blows out to $43 billion. $6000 cost to every household in Australia, assuming costs do not double – which some experts claim they will. Virtually no services delivered. No advantage over existing cable or HFC technology.

Budget Control FAIL

$22 billion surplus turned into $58 billion deficit which tax payers will need to repay. Nearly $9000 per year per Australian household.

Debt FAIL

$40 billion left in the bank by the Liberals turned into $100 billion Labor debt in just three years. Labor’s spending spree continues to increase debt at 100 million dollars per day, rising to 120 million per day next year.

Border SecurityFAIL

Illegal arrivals 3 boats a year under Liberals, now approaching 3 boats per week. At least 170 aslylum seeker deaths at sea, plus nearly 300 missing and unaccounted for. Plan for a new detention centre in East Timor not even discussed with East Timorese government before being announced.

Climate PolicyFAIL

‘Great moral issue of our time.’ ‘Delay is denial.’ Action – NIL. No current policy. Hundreds of climate bureaucrats employed by Penny Wong with your money, doing nothing.

Would the Liberals have done any better?

Past action and results are the best predictor of future action and results.

The Liberals were elected in 1996.

Labor had left a debt of $96 billion. This was repaid.

When Labor was kicked out, unemployment was in double digits. Under the Liberals unemployment was reduced to its lowest in 30 years.

When Labor left, inflation was in double digits. Under the Liberals inflation was reduced to 3%.

Under the Liberals, interest rates were reduced to their lowest in 30 years.

The Liberals created the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority to ensure bank security and reduce loan defaults, and avoided a US type economic crisis.

The Liberals invested $67 billion into a future fund, and ran consistent surplus budgets leaving Labor a $22 billion dollar surplus when they took over in 2007.

Labor debt – tax payer money borrowed and spent, which tax payers will need to repay – now stands at $100 billion – $5000 for every Australian.

On past experience – Yes. The Liberals will do better.

The early years of the coming decade will be the last few years of life for many Anglican parishes in the Western world.

Those parishes, some supported by legacies or property income, are home to the last of a generation which would already be gone if it were not for the extraordinary increase in life expectancy for ordinary men and women over the last 100 years.

It is a generation which has failed in its most fundamental calling – the call to pass on the faith to the next generation.

But then, why would a parishioner encourage his children to worship at an Anglican church, or invite her friends?

What inspiration or encouragement has there been in the liberal (in the worst sense of the word) agenda relentlessly imposed for the last forty years?

Or from bishops and other clergy outrightly denying the words of Christ and the teachings and example of the apostles, espousing every popular cause from women priests to gay marriage and global warming, but unable to talk about sin and forgiveness?

Or from the Archbishop of Canterbury, who cannot bring himself to suggest that sharing the Gospel with Muslims might be a good thing, but claims that sharia law is inevitable in Britain because some people ‘do not relate to the English legal system.’

Excuse me? Then why are they there?

But despite everything, the church is capable of taking a stand, and the church bells still ring out to call the faithful to action.

Sorry, what action?

To support the UN talks on bio-diversity. Of course.

Abraham Lincoln once asked how many legs a dog has if we call a tail a leg. The answer, he said, is four: calling a tail a leg does not make it so. We chuckle and move on. …

Today, marriages crumble, families are torn, society flounders. Why? We are not living in the truth. We accept a bad definition of marriage, acquiesce to almost any sexual arrangement, glorify the quest for sexual pleasure, treat children as a means to fulfill our desires. Overwhelmingly, research shows that rearing children in any other environment than with both their natural parents is damaging. Sometimes that damage is unavoidable, as when a parent dies, but we shouldn’t seek it. And it certainly won’t help to say the impossible is real.

We need the truth. We need to fix the legs. Calling a tail a leg only makes matters worse.

 A couple of quotes from A Marriage Tail, by Stephen J Heaney.

Naughty Wendy Francis. Doesn’t she know that expressing opinions contrary to those approved by the Federation of Angry Gays is not permitted?

Wendy is a Queensland senate candidate for the Family First Party.

She, or someone on her staff, tweeted that allowing the adoption of children by homosexual couples was equivalent to legalising child abuse.

She was not suggesting that children brought up in such relationships are more likely to suffer violence, neglect or sexual abuse.

Such an argument could be made, and perhaps should be considered, given the relative instability of homosexual relationships, the high rates of domestic violence, and the disproportionate amount of child sexual abuse committed by male homosexuals. But that is not what she was saying.

What she was saying is that research suggests that children do best when raised in a stable family headed by a male and a female. There are obviously times when that is not possible, when parents must do their best alone.

But for the state to put children into situations which are known to be less than optimal is not responsible. In matters of adoption, the children’s needs come first. Children are not fashion accessories, and having children is not a right.

The Courier-Mail reported that Wendy had ‘apologised unreservedly’ for the comment.

No she didn’t. She said she would have put the matter differently, and apologised if anyone was upset over the language used. But she continues to insist that allowing homosexual partners to adopt children is to make those children guinea pigs in an extraordinary social experiment that cannot be justified.

It is possible to argue that sufficient evidence exists now to be able to claim that children raised by homosexual couples show the same sexual, intellectual and physical development as other children. That is not that case – the research purportedly demonstrating this does not meet basic standards in terms of sample sizes, statistical analysis or reporting, and in almost every case was conducted by gay advocates.

Catholic Education’s Review Of Research On Homosexual Parenting, Adoption, And Foster Parenting is worth reading for some solid background on this issue, and comparison of outcomes for children raised by homosexual couples with children raised by male/female married parent families and other family types.

And the other apology? That was the absurd apology by Channel Nine CEO David Gyngell for Mark Latham’s questioning of PM Julia Gillard.

The PM was never in any danger (except of being embarrassed). Political journalists used to believe it was part of their job to ambush politicians with difficult questions.

So what the heck has happened to our media organisations when the CEO of a major TV network feels the need to apologise over a perfectly reasonable (if irrelevant to most voters) question?

This is Shaznaz Bibi. A muslim women who was not sufficiently docile.

Shaznaz Bibi, Muslim Woman

An isolated incident? There are more photos in an article called Terrorism that’s Personal.

Since 1994, a Pakistani activist who founded the Progressive Women’s Association to help such women “has documented 7,800 cases of women who were deliberately burned, scalded or subjected to acid attacks, just in the Islamabad area. In only 2 percent of those cases was anyone convicted.”

The article makes the point that terrorism is not a distant political movement. It is real murder, mutilation, and horror for millions of men and women.

Today also brought news of a couple stoned to death in Afghanistan.

It is all very well to say that these events are not representative of Islam, which is a religion of peace, yada yada yada.

But religions are a reflection of those who founded them. Jesus was gentle, forgiving, truthful, giving, respectful in all his relationships.

Mohammed was a serial murderer and rapist, a torturer who had sex with a nine year old girl when he was fifty-four.

These comments from a Muslim website are typical of the veneration given to him by Muslims:

… we look to divine guidance in order to define for us good manners and character, exemplified by the Prophet, as God said:

“Surely, you (O Muhammad) are upon a high standard of moral character.” (Quran 68:4)

God also said:

“Indeed in the Messenger of God you have a beautiful example of conduct to follow…” (Quran 33:21)

Aisha, the wife of the noble Prophet, was asked about his character.  She replied:

“His character was that of the Quran.” (Saheeh Muslim, Abu Dawud)

The Koran authorises violence against women, Mohammed exemplified violence against women, including the rape of women captured in war.

So how is disfigurement, rape and murder contrary to the ‘real teaching of Islam?’

If the Quran and the example of Mohammed are not the real teaching of Islam, what is?

And if this violence is wrong, a defaming of Islam, where are the protests and outrage from real Muslims at this misrepresentation of Islam, on a scale anything like the vengeful wrath expressed over the cartoons of Mohammed a few years ago?

I asked three random people (well it’s about as scientific as those polls in the Courier-Mail) some simple questions.

Do you believe the world is getting warmer as a result of human action? Two said yes, one no.

To the two who said yes: ‘What are we doing that is causing the world to get warmer?’

They both answered that we are making too much carbon dioxide, and this is trapping sunlight.

Next question: ‘If you had a box containg 10,000 air particles, how many of them would be carbon dioxide?’

One answer: Half?

The other answer: About 3,000?

My response. ‘Three.’

‘What, three thousand?’

‘Nope, three.’

‘You mean 300?’

Nope, three.’

‘That can’t be right.’

“Go and check it out.’

‘No that can’t be right.’

Ahh, the joyful bliss of ignorance.

Except that, in this case, and often, ignorance does not promote bliss, but uneccessary panic.

There is vastly more water vapour in the air than CO2, and water vapour is a more effective retainer of heat.

The minimal effect of that tiny amount of CO2 is simply swamped by other factors including water vapor.

The even more minimal additional amount of CO2 resulting from human activity causes so little change that it cannot even be measured.

Despite this, everywhere is getting hotter faster than everywhere else, and Mars is getting hotter fastest of all. And it’s all our fault. Except Mars.

Gol darn those irresponsible truck driving martians!

Of course, scientists keep saying we should stop panicking about climate because we can’t do anything about it anyway, and get on with solving real problems, but I still think those martians need to be taught a lesson.

I just bought a copy of the Australian Women’s Monthly.

I didn’t want to, but the current edition hasn’t yet made it to the doctors’ surgery, or to the library.

Julia Gillard is made to look very attractive.

There has been a bit of photo-shopping. In the photos, this makes her look younger and softer. In the text, it makes her look more caring and trustworthy.

I asked a random sample of female friends what they thought of the article, and of Julia.

One answered that she was lovely, and it would be great for Australia to have a female Prime Minister, just like it is wonderful that America has a black President.

This respondent is obviously a complete dimwit.

I didn’t point out that Australia already has a female Prime Minister, or that voting for someone on the basis of race is, well, racism. And besides, that’s worked out just peachy for all concerned, hasn’t it?

My two other friends said the fact that Julia is a backstabbing schemer who may have broken up a marriage, isn’t able to solve any of the problems currently facing the government, and seems willing to promise anything with taxpayers’ money to stay in power, is more important to them than that she is a woman.

They weren’t impressed with her domestic arrangements either. How is her consort going to be introduced? Please welcome Mr Tim Mathieson, the guy who’s currently shagging the Prime Minister?

It may sound snobby, but most Australians won’t sit comfortably with the idea of the Prime Minister shacking up at the Lodge with her hairdresser boyfriend.

Is this fair? Should politicians’ personal lives be up for discussion?

Well, yes.

It is important that our leaders be intelligent, energetic, capable. Julia is all of those things. So was Kevin Rudd. So was Mussolini.

Those things alone don’t make good leaders.

People also want to know that the Prime Minister is stable, truthful, compassionate, willing to honour commitments.

If a politician is willing to deceive friends, betray colleagues, lie to partners, make promises he can’t keep, why should voters have confidence he will keep his promises to them?

If the Women’s Weekly really thinks that faithfulness, integrity, stability, and kindness are less important to its readers than having nice hair and a vagina, it has seriously underestimated the intelligence of Australian women.

Ben-Peter Terpstra points out that it is much easier to make up your own Jesus if you have no idea who the real Jesus was.

In fact, if you have never read the Bible at all, and you are talking to other people who have never read the Bible, and have no intention of doing so, you can say what you like without fear of contradiction. Or at least, confident that your worthless opinion has as good a claim to respectful consideration as anyone else’s worthless opinion.

A few years ago I was arguing (politely) with the wife of a Sydney clergyman about the real presence of Christ in the eucharist.

‘But that’s just your opinion,’ she said, meaning that her opinion, or that of anyone who agreed with her, had just as good a claim to truth.

My argument was that this was not just ‘my opinion’ but what the church had taught unanimously until the 16th century. I know the scriptures on this fairly well, and some of the early church fathers. I quoted from John, Paul, and a few 2nd century letters and sermons.

Her response was ‘Well, I don’t care. I know what’s right.’

That was the end of the discussion, of course.

But for liberals (I mean the Labor kind) it is diversity, discussion, the journey, that is important. More important than the truth. Actual objective facts get in the way.

Ben-Peter writes of the Bible:

And that’s why Labor hacks despise it. Don’t teach the New Testament – and the next thing you know Jesus is a vegetarian feminist, driving a hybrid with a pro-gay marriage sticker. Or the Old Testament is just a mean patriarchal manifesto.

If you can make Jesus in your own image, you can claim him (or her, after all, who really knows) for your cause.

So the last thing you want is people reading the Bible, and finding that far from being enlistable in the latest cause de jour, Jesus’ life and words, with their claim to be eternal and objective, demand a response of repentance, a life of serving His cause.

Of course you can always pretend to read the Bible, and talk about ‘the trajectory of the Scriptures,’ which means that Jesus seems to have been an all right sort of bloke, so we can be confident that if he had known what we know, and been as clever we are, he would have thought the things we do.

But once we have allowed ourselves to encounter the real Jesus, making him in our own image is no longer an option. The choice we have is to remake ourselves in His.

If you are interested in US politics, the Town Hall website is worth visiting regularly.

Today there is an article by Michael Medved which asks why big lotto winnings are more acceptable than big executive bonuses. A couple of excerpts:

Why do huge Wall Street bonuses provoke so much more public indignation than similarly gigantic lottery jackpots?

At least financial tycoons can try to argue that their payoffs stem from their own wise decisions or productive hard work. But Powerball winners get rewarded for patently stupid behavior: wasting a few dollars (usually on a regular basis) on addictive games of chance with only the remotest possibility of success.

All studies of government-sponsored games of chance show that they draw their dollars disproportionately from the most disadvantaged members of society. … Lottery losses of just five dollars a week (a common pattern in the nations poorest neighborhoods) could otherwise yield life-changing results (like a compound-interest portfolio that will likely exceed five figures within 20 years) if that money were saved and invested.

Americans can accept a winner of Megamillions who collects $340 million simply because he’s luckier than we are, but we wince at the idea of bankers drawing a similar amount because they’re better connected, smarter, more sophisticated or even more productive.

And Debra Saunders notes that there is pretty good evidence that using a mobile phone while driving, even a hand-held phone, is no more risky than turning on the windcreen wipers:

Last week, an insurance industry report found that bans on using hand-held cell-phones while driving in California, New York, Washington, D.C. and Connecticut did not reduce the number of car crashes. To the contrary, crashes went up in Connecticut and New York, and slightly in California, after the bans took effect.

Insurers are the most risk-averse, nag-happy, fun-killing folks in the private sector. If ever there was an industry that loved nanny-state laws and had nothing to gain in raising information that does not support them, that would be the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

But its report found that the crash statistics simply aren’t there.

I doubt that will stop the legislators.

No s%#t, Sherlock.

Businesses are not charities. Loyalty schemes are designed to make more money. They make more money by encouraging people to buy from a particular store or chain.

Choice magazine found that consumers need to spend $100 to earn $1 dollar in rewards in loyalty programmes like Flybuys.

You could save that much by walking down the road and buying a single bottle of Coke on special, rather than paying full price at your loyalty card issuer’s store.

Research …  shows to earn a $50 voucher, using FlyBuys and Woolworths Everyday Rewards schemes, customers must spend almost $11,000 at Woolworths and more than $15,700 at Coles.

The findings are based on Roy Morgan Research figures that show in the year to last June, the average Australian shopper spent $156 a week in supermarkets. It would take seven years to gain enough points for a Virgin Blue flight from Sydney to Melbourne using the FlyBuys system, the report claims.

And since points expire after three years, all that loyal shopping and swiping your Flybuys card is not going to earn you anything.

Even if you don’t use a loyalty card, and shop for specials wherever you find them, you are still paying for loyalty schemes, because extra staff time, stationery and other costs of administering the scheme have to be built into store pricing.

I noted a few days ago that KICE – Kangaroo Island Education, had scored below average results in national numeracy and literacy testing. Results for the year three group were substantially below average. This was when compared with all schools, and with ‘statistically similar schools.’

Kangaroo Island is regarded as remote, and incomes on the island are below national averages.

So statistically similar means poor and remote. Other schools listed when I checked the site were schools with high proportions of indigenous students.

Aboriginal schools are generally recognised as having significant issues in terms of absenteeism and literacy.

For KICE to score below aboriginal schools at any level is an appalling result.

How could this have come about? There three possibilities.

1. Children on KI are unusually stupid.

I don’t think this is so. But there does seem to be an unusually high proportion of students with learning difficulties – particularly boys.

2. Parents do not see the value of education, are not supportive of the school, do not read with their children at home, etc, etc.

This is possibly true. There does seem to be a general lack of recognition of the value of learning.

There is also a high incidence of domestic violence.

I have not seen any studies of  correlation between domestic violence and literacy, but I would expect a strong inverse relationship.

A close friend says her observations while working in aboriginal schools confirms this. Children were often scared of what they would find when they went home, if Dad was drunk, or Mum had threatened to kill Dad in his sleep, or sister had been beaten with iron bars the night before because she was friends with someone the family were enemies of.

Because they were scared the children were not interested in school work, or left during the day to check what was happening, or found other, often unhealthy, ways to cope.

Even in less extreme circumstances, children might be distressed and distracted by unhappiness at home.

But this is not the whole answer. The relationship between KICE and parents seems to be marred by suspicion if not outright hostility.

To give an example, last year a parent wrote a letter to the local paper, questioning the teaching of Indonesian as a second language. The questions were reasonable, and could have been answered in a  reasonable way.

Instead, the principal wrote back to the paper saying he was taking legal advice, and suggesting the parent, and anyone else who thought like him, was a narrow-minded redneck.

This kind of response does not encourage parents and community members to believe they can talk openly with the school about issues.

It also makes the school as whole seem defensive if not irrational, so that parents are less likely to take the word of teachers or other staff over that of their children, and less likely to believe disciplinary measures are being adminstered fairly.

3. The school is disfunctional, or at least, teaching in the early years is or has been very poor.

I met two retired teachers last week. Both had taught for many years on Kangaroo Island. I asked one of them what he used to teach, meaning subjects. He replied ‘little bastards.’ I laughed, and asked whether this was what had lead to his early retirement.

He said it was not. He was used to poor behaviour from students, and lack of support from parents. What had got him in the end was ongoing bullying in the staff room. The other teacher who was with him confirmed that this had also been his experience.

Now let’s just talk in general about disfunctional schools.

There was a fuss in the papers in South Australia a few years ago about a power group of teachers in a public school. They organised timetables so that they got better students and more free time. Difficult classes would be split for them, but left intact for new teachers, who were then belittled if they had classroom management problems.

Teachers were appointed, and office space and privileges allocated, not on the basis of need or experience, but on the basis of who knew who, and who talked loudest about the great things they had done.

This resulted in high levels of tension, large numbers of staff on stress leave, and declining academic results. Senior staff sent to try to resolve the problem were either drawn into the power group, or if they resisted and tried to bring about change, decried as bullies or incompetent, and moved on.

No one benefits from this, except the few who are able to make life comfortable for themselves at the expense of other teachers, students, and the community.

For results to improve, existing problems need to be acknowledged. Power groups need to be recognised for what they are, and deprived of their power. Appointments need to be made on the basis of who is best suited for the position, not who is someone’s drinking buddy.

And last but certainly not least, there needs to genuine and respectful interaction with the community.

More money will not solve the poor NAPLAN results. Better management will.