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It is the beginning of the final week in the run-up to Australia's Federal Election 2010. The GentleMen and GentleWomen of the Fourth Estate keep impressing upon us that it is going down to the wire. The bookies and betting agencies impress upon us that those who place a sporting wager insist that Gillard and Labor are a sure, sure thing.
Julia launches Labor's policy to-day. Is this the latest official policy delivery in history??? Anyway, here is Miss Eagle's wish list - well, not all of it, just the VIBs - the Very Important Bits. I have rolled the VIBs together under one heading (great for inserting in official docs) to become all of a piece.
MISS EAGLE REQUESTS - NAY, DEMANDS
THAT IN GOVERNMENT
THE AUSTRALIAN LABOR PARTY
REVIEW ALL POLICIES
INTRODUCED BY JOHN HOWARD'S
WHICH HAVE BEEN CONTINUED
WITH A VIEW TO DISCONTINUING THE SAME.
Yeah, I know. There are bound to be some decent or half-way decent policies (including - let me declare my interest - my dental program which has afforded much need dental care and which is now reaching the $8,500 mark) which may deserve continuation. But let's not beat around the bush. You know what I'm on about, Networkers.
- The Intervention. This is the most important thing that has to go - lock, stock, smoking barrel and lack of new housing. Call it what you will - The Northern Territory Emergency Response, Closing the Gap - this policy by any name would smell just as rank and evil. It has to go, Julia, along with the attitude that you can shift Aboriginal people around like pawns on a chess board and use them as living laboratories so you can extend unpalatable policies into all corners of Australian society.
- Taxpayer funding of wealthy private schools. Now, I am not keen on any extensive funding for non-government schools but I don't want to fight again the battles of the '50s and '60s on state aid. Even though I was educated in the Catholic school system (with good and harmful effects), I believe in a secular space in our society and I also believe that foundational to our secular public space is compulsory education available to all which has, in this country, been offered by a public school system. It is obscene the way public schools are treated and allowed to moulder while Kings, Riverview, Joey's, Scotch, Geelong, etc can cream off taxpayers money in great wads. How much will that return to the budget (or preferably public schools) , Julia, particularly when the money for public schools stands a very good chance of actually benefitting Labor voters - as the obscene private school funding does not. It benefits John Howard's aspirational voters.
- Taxpayer funding of school chaplains. I have watched over the years (because I am a practising Christian) evangelical and pentecostal groups and churches burrow their way into the public school system. In one parish where I used to worship, we had a co-operative system across the denominations of funding such chaplains. I have no complaint - within certain restrictions - about this since voluntary access to Religious Instruction has become part of the public school landscape. However, secular schools have become battlegrounds for the hearts, minds, and spirits of our children. Public schools are no longer a guarantee of a secular space. We have Steiner Schools set up right alongside and in the same grounds as public schools facilities; we have atheists drawing up an RI curriculum - well, not RI, it is philosophy-based ethics - and getting permission to go into the RI timeslot and teach it. Thought bubble! Would Marxists be as welcome if they sought entree? After all, Marx qualifies as a philosopher in University philosophy schools. Back to the chaplains, the churches and 'para' church groups such as Scripture Union burrowed away and represented their case to John Howard so well that he decided to fund them. Now, I am not sure how things work in schools with significant Muslim populations. Do they get their own imam or not? Can someone help me out here? And social workers put up their hands to point out their skills within an educational framework. Did any of them get funded under Howard's scheme? And then there is the take-over of Catholic schools by the Victorian Government which would still be separate Catholic Schools. Do we really want our public school sector to become a sectarian battleground? Do we want our taxes syphoned away from the public school sector to fund individual choices and aspirations which find public schools too, too much or too, too smelly or whatever?
- Review of Australian response to the ANZUS alliance and American adventurism. Through the George W. Bush years we were caught up in American adventures - Americans going where they should have had second thoughts about going. Now I understand the politics and I could see, in some situations, that we got in early and claimed a relatively safe place at the back of the queue. We could be seen to be agreeable without any great cost, particularly in terms of Australian lives. However, many of us see things a bit differently. Iraq has wound down but progress in Afghanistan is highly dubious. Can we kick the Taliban to kingdom-come pretty smartly and get the hell out of there or can we just get the hell out of there very quickly? It is beginning to look as if the Australian military wants to go to any action going where some of us - children of the Vietnam era as many of us are - believe in the slogans: Wouldn't it be great if they gave a war and nobody came and Wouldn't it be great if public schools got all the funding they need and they had to have a cake stall to buy an F1-11.
Well, Networkers, you can get my drift, can't you. I don't think this list covers everything - so I am relying on you to enter your comments to tell us what else should be on this wish list.
And, Julia, an answer by close of business on Friday (smile, smile, and giggle) would be really appreciated.