Tuesday 13th of April 2021

it feels as though there’s a quiet desperation about it...

How ironic that the Department of Home Affairs is the guardian of Australian values


By WARWICK MCFADYEN | On 24 February 2021

A parliamentary report urges the government to work on improving the school curriculum to develop in students ‘‘understanding, empathy, and an openness to diversity’’. Perhaps there’d be more value in directing that message to the adults in the room.

It’s always troubling when the term Australian values is given an airing. Whatever the intentions or origins of its surfacing, it feels as though there’s a quiet desperation about it. As though it is seeking reaffirmation of what it means, and how by its uttering, it thus helps solidify the definition of us. This is all the more acute when it falls into the arms of that shape-shifting creature: the politician.

A bipartisan federal parliamentary committee recently recommended that secondary students needed to be better educated about Australian values. It also urged better teaching on Indigenous history (no complaints with that), and an increase in knowledge about civics and democracy (good luck with that).

The Senate inquiry which resulted in the report took 18 months. Some of its recommendations are long overdue, such as developing resources so that First Nations history can be properly taught. However, instilling a greater appreciation of civics and citizenship night be problematic.

Labor senator Kim Carr, who chaired the review, acknowledged, “What is undoubtedly true is that the level of civic engagement and debate in this country is disturbingly low.”

Perhaps, just perhaps, this might be because the level of admiration and trust people have in most politicians is barely able to rise above the floors of the House of Representatives or the Senate. How does this square with building a tower of Australian values when the people we elect to represent us are held in such poor, indeed contemptible, regard?

It is all very well to bathe in the reflected glory of our inestimable Australian values – we give everyone a fair go, we help out our neighbours when they’re in trouble, we fight for the underdog, we look after one another – but it is not the whole truth.

Values, like numbers, can be positive and negative. It’s a fine line between mateship/larrikin and self-interest/criminal. There’s not too many steps from being a larrikin to being a ratbag.

No one can reasonably argue we give the unemployed a fair go. For more than two decades, governments, of both colours, were content to leave welfare payments at a level that hovered around indifference and poverty. Forty dollars a day. Go and live on that. There’s no value of understanding or compassion in that. It is welcome, and condemnatory, that it has taken a pandemic to see a rise in the payment, and after the just announced rise of $25 a week, contemptible. $43.50 a week. Go and live on that.

If that’s a lifeline as the Prime Minister asserts, perhaps he misunderstands the meaning and point of a lifeline.

It is somewhat ironic that the Department of Home Affairs is the guardian of Australian values. On its website these values are expounded, in part as: a fair go for all that embraces mutual respect, tolerance, compassion for those in need and equality of opportunity for all.

For years Australia has denied those points, indeed sacrificed basic human kindness, on the altar of righteous nationalism, and has treated asylum seekers as criminals, indeed not as humans, but illegal maritime arrivals as Scott Morrison once described them. The Scott Morrison with the model of a boat and the tag I Stopped These in his parliamentary office. The Scott Morrison who is now prime minister.

As to white Australia’s relationship with First Nations people, let’s put those points of a fair go for all that embraces mutual respect, tolerance, compassion for those in need and equality of opportunity for all against the reality of being Indigenous in this country.

Let’s teach those values to school children.

Kids learn from example. You can teach them in a classroom for as long as you like, but if they walk outside and see their elders acting differently, which has greater impact?

The report urges the government to work on improving the curriculum to develop in students ‘‘understanding, empathy, and an openness to diversity’’.

It’s a nice idea. But perhaps there’d be more value in directing the message to the adults in the room.


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learn aussie values...

Austrade and FutureLearn sign 5 year strategic agreement

24 Feb 2021

Building on the success of the award-winning Study with Australia campaign, Future Learn and Austrade have signed a five year strategic agreement.

The agreement, announced today by Dan Tehan MP Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment and Alan Tudge MP Minister for Education and Youth will showcase Australia’s world-class education and online learning offering to more than 12 million learners globally.

The pilot program featured free online short courses offered by 20 Australian education providers. The new agreement builds on this to enable high-quality Australian education providers across all sub-sectors to participate on a no-cost entry, fee revenue-share basis.


Since the start of the pandemic, our sector has adapted quickly to ‘Study with Australia’ through online delivery. The size of the global online delivery market is growing quickly, with significant opportunities for expansion and diversification.

Online short course delivery enables providers to showcase brand, product and capability to a global audience, reaching new markets and engaging new learners. It also enables current and prospective students, as well as our global alumni, to stay connected with Australia.

Short courses can offer ‘try before you buy’ and ‘stackable’ options that earn study credits towards longer qualifications. Results from a pilot program showed rates of enrolment conversion from short courses into full qualifications much higher than program targets.

FutureLearn is a key partner in our collective ‘Study with Australia’ efforts, with our first collaboration resulting in over 836,000 enrolments globally.

To find out more about the Study with Australia pilot program outcomes, go to IEAA Excellence Awards and view the video, or download the pilot program report.


This announcement from Austrade (links have been removed)





Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton has added his name to the growing list of senior Coalition members who knew details of Brittany Higgins’ rape allegations, but supposedly did not inform the Prime Minister’s office.

Mr Dutton has admitted he was told of the alleged incident involving Ms Higgins on February 11.

That’s a whole day before Scott Morrison said his office first heard of the claims, via a media request on February 12, and a full four days before the first report on the rape claims was published.


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"she said he said"....

Scott Morrison has stepped around a question about whether he agrees with Peter Dutton’s characterisation of Brittany Higgins’ rape allegation as “she said, he said” as the home affairs minister defended his decision not to alert the prime minister to the potential reopening of the police investigation.

Dutton’s office earlier this week declined to answer questions from Guardian Australia and other media outlets about his contact with police but the home affairs minister finally confirmed on Wednesday the AFP told him about the allegation of sexual assault on 11 February.


Dutton said on Thursday his chief of staff subsequently told Morrison’s chief of staff about the heads-up from the Australian federal police on 12 February. Morrison is continuing to insist he wasn’t told until Monday 15 February.

Dutton told reporters on Thursday that “some detail” had been provided to Morrison’s chief of staff “when there were media inquiries” on 12 February “as a courtesy”. The minister added he “wasn’t provided with the she said, he said details of the allegations”.


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the swinging dicks...

Former Liberal minister attacks 'secret men's business' after cabinet minister accused of historical rape

Sharman Stone says male MPs referred to themselves as the ‘swinging dicks’ and blocked Julie Bishop’s leadership aspirations.

Former Liberal minister Dr Sharman Stone has attacked a broader culture of parliamentary sexism and misogyny after the ABC revealed on Friday that a letter had been sent to the prime minister and police alleging a federal cabinet minister raped a woman before he entered parliament.

The ABC’s Four Corners reported the letter included allegations from a now-deceased woman alleging she was raped in 1988. The letter urged prime minister Scott Morrison to establish an independent investigation into the alleged sexual assault. The letter was forwarded to police after also being sent to opposition Labor leader in the Senate, Penny Wong, and the Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young.


NSW police confirmed the alleged victim contacted the child abuse and sex crimes squad in February 2020 about the alleged assault. The woman died a few months later.

Stone told ABC’s Radio National that: “Women were considered shrill and hysterical if they raised their voices, or if they shed a tear they were weak”.

She said a group of men in parliament who called themselves the “swinging dicks” blocked Liberal MP Julie Bishop’s leadership aspirations.

“It was a very gendered thing obviously when you call yourself that, and you’re all men in the group,” she said. Guardian Australia has contacted Bishop for comment.

Little had changed since she left parliament four years ago, Stone said. Stone told the ABC that when she did she completed an exit survey for departing politicians. She said she knew answers from others had highlighted “the sexism, the concern about bullying, the concern about the lack of work-life balance”.

“This whole secret men’s business has to stop,” she said. “It has to be about fairness, justice, equity.”

In a statement to her solicitor, the now deceased woman who is the subject of the letter to Morrison said: “All I really want, in the end, is for this to have been reported to the NSW Police Force and to know that a copy of this document, and a transcript of any interview they might do with me, is in their archives.

“If this story does become public knowledge, I hope that it will encourage other women to come forward.”



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murder by influencing suicide...

Prime Minister Scott Morrison is under increasing pressure to investigate a cabinet minister at the centre of a historical rape allegation.

ABC’s Four Corners on Friday reported the Australian Federal Police had been notified of a letter sent to the Prime Minister detailing an alleged rape in 1988 by one of Mr Morrison’s current cabinet ministers of a then 16-year-old girl.

Independent Senator Rex Patrick has called for the unnamed minster to be stood down – with a presumption of innocence – while the allegations are investigated.

“The matter that has been aired is a very serious one. It has sufficient grounds to see involvement by police forces and the South Australian coroner,” Senator Patrick told The New Daily. 

Prosecutors cannot pursue a criminal conviction because the woman’s death means the allegations cannot be tested, but Senator Patrick said the Mr Morrison should call an investigation.

“Whilst the presumption of innocence is important, the very serious nature of the allegation is such that the cabinet minister in question must stand down pending the outcome of any investigation,” he said.

To do nothing would open every cabinet minister to speculation, Senator Patrick said.

“That is the honourable thing to do. In the absence of such action, all other male cabinet members have a cloud over their reputations. If the Minister doesn’t want to do that, the PM should insist,” he said.

Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young said the shocking allegations should not be “swept under the carpet” and urged the prime minister to act to ensure the integrity of the government.

She said Scott Morrison’s silence on the matter was “deafening”.

The woman reported the allegation to New South Wales Police in February last year, triggering an investigation.

However, the investigation was dropped after the woman died by suicide in June.

The cabinet minster’s identity is not publicly known.

Labor Senator Penny Wong, who along with Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young and the PM received a copy of the letter, said she had been told of the allegations in 2019 after she “ran into” the woman in Adelaide.

“The complainant made an allegation that she had been raped many years earlier by a person who is now a senior member of the federal government. She indicated she intended to report the matter to NSW Police,” Senator Wong said.

“I said that making a report to the appropriate authorities was the right thing to do. I facilitated her referral to rape support services and confirmed she was being supported in reporting the matter to NSW Police.”

A coronial investigation into the complainant’s death is underway in Adelaide and the AFP has been notified.


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At this point, most journalist with flair would know who the perpetrator is. They can't name him (I could but I won't), but 4C ABC TV ran a piece the other day about sexual affairs in the Canberra Bubble, with "something missing". The programme felt like it was on the way to something but had been stopped to go beyond a point. It is Gus's opinion that 4C ABC was "held back" and the journos know who did the bad deed. 

Morrison also knows who. The putrefaction has started in his government. He has to "clean up" the walls, the floors and the ceiling of his government. The only way to do it is to push the culprit out. But we know Morrison won't do this. He is an "evangelical" Christian. You don't rat on your friends. You maintain a hypocritical silence. We shall see...


When were the "honourables" in parliament and in government "honourable"?...



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