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John Passant

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April 2010



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My interview Razor Sharp 18 February
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp on Tuesday 18 February. (0)

My interview Razor Sharp 11 February 2014
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp this morning. The Royal Commission, car industry and age of entitlement get a lot of the coverage. (0)

Razor Sharp 4 February 2014
Me on 4 February 2014 on Razor Sharp with Sharon Firebrace. (0)

Time for a House Un-Australian Activities Committee?
Tony Abbott thinks the Australian Broadcasting Corporation is Un-Australian. I am looking forward to his government setting up the House Un-Australian Activities Committee. (1)

Make Gina Rinehart work for her dole

Sick kids and paying upfront


Save Medicare

Demonstrate in defence of Medicare at Sydney Town Hall 1 pm Saturday 4 January (0)

Me on Razor Sharp this morning
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace this morning for Razor Sharp. It happens every Tuesday. (0)

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I think we are being unfair to this Abbott ‘no surprises’ Government. I am not surprised. (0)

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It is a pity that Barnaby Joyce, a man of tact, diplomacy, nuance and subtlety, isn’t going to Indonesia to fix things up. I know I am disappointed that Barnaby is missing out on this great opportunity, and I am sure the Indonesians feel the same way. [Sarcasm alert.] (0)



Will Gillard try to jail our teachers?

Teachers have banned supervising students in their national numeracy and literacy (NAPLAN) tests.

This is because the publication of these results on the Labor Government’s My School website is a league table of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ schools and stigmatises students in ‘bad’ schools.

The tables can induce parents to move their kids to supposedly better performing schools. It may come as no surprise that high fee private schools rate near the top of the tables and badly funded public schools in areas of disadvantage score poorly. In other words the tables will reinforce and exacerbate inequality.

What they won’t do is improve funding.  Labor’s education revolution has been an investment in tricks and mortar.  Labor has not invested in the people in the system, the teachers and other staff who work hard to educate our kids. Without such investment the Gillard’s education revolution is a non-solution.

Labor’s industrial laws, like the Liberals’ industrial laws, make it illegal to undertake action outside the collective agreement bargaining period.  The states have similar legislation. The NAPLAN test ban is outside the bargaining periods and so illegal.

Last month Gillard went to Western Australia to give her support to Woodside Petroleum. The company is suing its workers and union leaders for taking ‘unprotected’ action.

Each striker faces a fine of $22,000. To date unions have paid fines rather than develop and implement a Clarrie O’Shea rolling general strike strategy and smash the penal powers.

Now it might be easy in the court of public opinion to bag out building workers and hamstring or punish them with fines for striking. 

But it is something altogether different for Gillard to attack unionists who have the fate of our kids in their hands every day and for whom most people have nothing but respect.

Our industrial laws are split between federal and state jurisdictions. In Victoria, the ACT and the Northern Territory teachers could have their pay docked by a minimum of four hours under the Federal Labor Government’s laws. 

Under the other States’ industrial laws the action is likely to be unprotected, according to Gillard.

In those States the union rather than the members could face fines.

In January when unions floated the idea of banning the tests Gillard said she would not rule anything in or anything out about how the Rudd Labor Government would deal with bans. 

The teachers’ union needs to be prepared to face the ferocity of Labor using its laws to smash the ban.  They should resolve not to obey any pre-emptive court direction to lift he bans.

They should threaten to strike if their pay is docked or members or the union fined over the bans. They could resolve not to pay any fines and risk jail for doing so.

And they should seek support from other unions like the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy union to form a united front against Labor’s penal powers and win the end of league tables for schools and worsening safety on building sites.

One of the CFMEU’s members faces jail for not providing details of a lunchtime meeting he attended. To its credit the union is organising strikes if he is jailed. Teachers can learn those lessons.

The right to strike and take other industrial action at any time is fundamental to a democratic society. 

Labor will attack teachers. When it does the teachers have the opportunity to defeat the league tables by striking and smashing Labor’s penal powers.



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Comment from Dave Bath
Time April 13, 2010 at 11:43 pm

Hmmm. The curriculum itself could be seen as limiting the ability of teachers to impart knowledge about peaceful protest against the upper classes – back to Wat Tyler and earlier, or perhaps more appropriately, the Lollards who wanted socially (then) important information available to the populace in a language they understood.

Comment from John
Time April 14, 2010 at 6:29 am

That a whole new question Dave. The nature of education under captalism as is and as could be is just such a huge area for discussion.

Comment from Sherkahn
Time April 14, 2010 at 11:57 am

When something is not producing good results, then change is surely an optomitist thing to pursue. However, change annoys vested interests. They are scared of having to shake themselves out of their stodgy comfort.

Comment from Chav
Time April 14, 2010 at 9:08 pm

“They are scared of having to shake themselves out of their stodgy comfort.”

I know a couple of teachers personally and they are some of, if not the hardest workers I know. Their positions could hardly be described as stodgy comfort!

Comment from John
Time April 14, 2010 at 9:56 pm

Absolutely Chav. in fact the bad change here is the use of the NAPLAN tests to make league tables and stigmatise poorer schools.

Comment from Chav
Time April 15, 2010 at 1:10 pm

The Fair Work Commission is making noises about fining the AEU and teachers who take action to ban the tests. I wonder how serious the AEU is about going ahead with the action or is it aiming to make some sort of deal with the various Education Ministers at their upcoming conference?

Any teachers who can give a report on what the mood is in their schools re the ban?

Does the AEU seem serious about going ahead with the ban?

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