Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Back to Uni

For the few regular readers still wandering past this site, you may be interested to know that it's the first week of university this week.

While I should have been going to class, signing up for tutes, searching fruitlessly for obscure lecture rooms... I have been variously stuck at work or going to university committee meetings. Blah.

After an exhausing O-Week (and its six-week lead up) and a very bad weekend, I really haven't had much energy to write. I also have deadlines for various other projects, such as Hermes Portal and Atlas Games, which has kept me scribbling away in my sketchpad and desperately staving off writer's block.

Here is a sample:

Meanwhile, I may briefly comment on Costello's plan to change the GST Legislation.

Last night on LateLine, Beattie and Bracks were interviewed by Tony Jones after the World's Greatest Treasurer announced that he was going to supervise how the States would spend their GST revenue.

This move is obviously a part of the Liberal's on going strategy of "all power to Canberra". Unable to seize control of the States, Howard and Costello have decided to try to centralise power in Australia in their own hands.

(Imagine if a Labor Government were trying to do this! The outcry would be enormous! Bolt and Ackerman would have conniptions.)

I was not impressed last night with Tony Jones; it was quite obvious that Bracks and Beattie were singings from the same choir-book, and Tony Jones really just allowed them a forum to hack at Costello (not that I disapprove of that, just that Tony Jones didn't really take any kind of hard line).

This centralising, nationalist approach of Howard and Costello is an interesting one. I firmly believe that the States are irrelevent hold-overs from the colonisation of Australia. With a single nation, there really should be a single system where possible (allowing for specific need and circumstance to change a "one size fits all" approach).

Education and health is a good example of this. Every child in Australia should receive the same level of education, with the same curriculum, same quality, same resources and same standards. This is one of the reasons I oppose private schools and selective public schools (like the one I went to in Adelaide for four years), because they stratify education and make three tiers of learning, an elite private level, an elite public level, and then the rest.

Add to that six or seven different standards and systems for examination and achievement (VCE in Victoria, SACE in South Australia) and it is hopelessly complicated.

Resolving this however needs to be done cooperatively through Federalism, not imposed through taxation legislation from the Commonwealth Government. With all States held by Labor, Howard would be able to prove his seriousness in greating a unified national system by negotiating and compromising with the Labor States in developing a world's best practice national education system.

(Much the same could be said for Health, which is why I supported Medicare Gold.)

Costello has also played the card of "accountability", saying that the States spend their GST revenue on all kinds of crazy things that the public never knows about. Putting asside the notion that suddenly it is the role of the Federal Government to play oversight-committee to the States, the notion that State Governments are unaccountable is ridiculous. The States need to face regular elections, they have their own parliaments with Liberal oppositions, and they also produce annual budgets which allow their electors to scrutinise their spending on areas such as health, education, community building, policing, public transport, etc).

The Australian's article goes into some of this, but I suspect it hides the Howard Government's true agenda right at the end.
The commonwealth suspects the state governments have been spending a large share of their revenue gains on the salaries of unionised public service workers rather than on improving services and infrastructure.
Howard has indicated that his Fourth Term would be one devoted to Thatcher-like crushing of unions. His cronies have obviously decided that a main bastion of unionism in Australia is the public service, where membership is upwards of 60%. Costello's aim is therefore to cripple the autonomy of the Labor States and to support the Fourth Term anti-union Industrial Relations agenda.


  • At March 03, 2005 10:51 pm, Blogger Nic White said…

    On education, its funny you should talk about the centralisation idea, as I had a similar conversation with an American college student about that a couple of months ago. Ive been planning to do something on it but have been consumed by the election. Ill fastrack it.


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