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John Passant

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March 2013



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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
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Me on Razor Sharp this morning
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The National Plan for Improvement of Politicians

The Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills, Science and Research, Chris Bowen MP, and the Minister for School Education, Peter Garrett MP, have announced an ambitious plan to improve the quality of Parliamentarians.

Everyone recognises we are tired of the crooks,  duds, time servers, megalomaniacs and lazy bastards who make up our parliamentary class. We demand and expect more and this Labor government is at the forefront of delivering on its promises to increase the quality of parliamentarians through its National Plan for Improvement of Politicians.

Here is a transcript of an interview with the Ministers explaining the government’s approach. In the interests of literacy a few words have been changed.

CHRIS BOWEN: Thank you everybody at this very impressive and beautiful school, Macarthur Girls High School at Parramatta.  I’m here with my ministerial colleague and friend Peter Garrett, to announce the Federal Government’s approach to improving the quality of politicians in Australia. Few things could be more important for our future than making sure that our parliamentarians are passionate, motivated and well-qualified.  We want to be the world’s best practice when it comes to our leaders of today and tomorrow.

Now, of course across Australia there are many thousands of dedicated, well-qualified professional politicians who every day deliver to our  ruling class a first class capitalist system and deliver more and more of the wealth we create to the parasites of profit.   But that doesn’t mean there isn’t more to do in improving the quality of politicians in Australia. In recent months Minister Garrett and I have been working on a series of proposals, consulting with universities and with others and it’s those proposals we’re announcing today; a four point plan to improve the quality of prliamentarians in Australia, which I’ll briefly run through.

Firstly, we will work with universities and we’ll ask the Australian Institute of Teaching and School Leadership to develop best practice guidelines for admission to parliament for politicians. A simple ATAR or HSC result is important, but there’s so much more that goes into determining who will be a good member of parliament; passion, commitment, dedication, emotional intelligence and a dedication to serving capital, and there are ways that these things can be assessed.

Some universities already assess these things but we want to see a much more consistent national approach.  So we’ll work with universities to ensure that each university has those measures in place, so that the whole student is considered, that everything that that person who wants to be a politician can bring to the table is considered in determining whether they’ll be admitted to university.

Secondly, we will work again with institutions and jurisdictions to ensure best practice in what is called practicum, or most of us would call on the job training, where party hacks come together and learn on the job about how to be a great politicians. We want to, again, ensure nationally consistent best practice, whether it be minimum time frames, minimum qualifications of the supervising politicians and minimum objectives for what that would be parliamentarian should be learning while they’re doing their prac.

Thirdly, we’ll ask the regulator of Australia’s universities, TEQSA, to undertake a review of the quality of political education across the board in all our institutions of higher learning to ensure, again, that each institution is meeting the grade, each institution, each university, is achieving what we see as best practice.

And finally, Minister Garrett and the government, some time ago set, with other jurisdictions, the objective of having each of our politicians in the top thirty per cent of literacy and numeracy in Australia.  Today we’re announcing measures to make that a reality. Again, we will work with universities to institute testing to ensure that somebody who is going to be a politician meets that thirty per cent bench mark of being in the top thirty per cent of literacy and numeracy in Australia.

If somebody passes that test then they’ll be able to proceed to be registered as a possible politician.  If they don’t pass that assessment, that test, they’ll be invited to lift their standards.  They’ll have time to get into the top thirty per cent, and if they get into the top thirty per cent in a subsequent test then they’ll be able to proceed to stand for parliament.

If they don’t then they won’t be able to be a politician in Australia, and we’ll ask the Australian Centre for Educational Research, again to develop that assessment and we’ll work closely with universities to implement it.

The package we’re announcing today focuses on the quality of the politician coming out of the university.  It focuses on making sure that the many thousands of people who are being trained to be parliamentarians in Australia come out with the best possible qualifications. We’ve seen a revolution in university education in Australia under this government; two hundred thousand more people going to universities across the country, many of them in political courses.

But we need to make sure that we continue to work to ensure that the quality of education of politicians is as good as it possibly can be and these reforms we’re announcing today build on the reforms through national partnerships and other policies that Minister Garrett has been implementing in consultation and cooperation with state and territory jurisdictions.

I’d invite Peter to add to our remarks, and then of course we’re happy to take questions.

PETER GARRETT: Yeah, thanks very much, Chris.  The most important person inside any Parliament is the politician and it’s absolutely crucial that their training standards are as high as they can be, to make sure that the service capital is getting in parliaments right around Australia is as good as it can be.

So today’s announcement is important.  It’s important because we want to see a National Plan for the Improvement of politicians that puts Australia in the top five of parliamentary performing nations by 2025.  And we know that it’s absolutely crucial that for all those people who want to become politicians, they are given the best opportunity and the necessary training so that when they get into the Parliament they can do the best possible job.

We’ve already seen how important it is to lift literacy and numeracy generally, and we can identify across the country some significant challenges in parliamentary performance across the literacy and numeracy domains. As Minister Bowen said, some of our national partnerships, including the National Partnership on Parliamentary Literacy and Numeracy, are showing benefit, and some good results as a consequence of focused effort on literacy and numeracy in those specific Parliaments.

But the fact is, we want every Parliament to have the right standards of politicians to lift literacy and numeracy, and it will be important for political graduates to have reached the top thirty per cent in literacy and numeracy that we’ve identified.

In relation to the National Plan for Improvement of Politicians, what we say to the states is this:  It’s time for you to get on board with the National Plan, which is specifically focused at making sure that every elector gets the best opportunity they can, no matter what electorate they’re in, no matter what the means of their parents. And today’s set of reforms around training and lifting politicians’ standards will be an absolutely crucial part of that National Plan for Improvement of Politicians.

It’s worthwhile remembering that no government has done more, both by way of investment or national policy reform, on improving the quality of our elected representatives, as this Gillard Labor government. Today’s announcement continues that drive to make sure that every parliament is a great parliament and that every politician is a great politician as well.  Our plan is to have the best politicians money can buy. Thank you.

Both Ministers rejected the plan of left wing politician Hugh Shavers to pay politicians the average wage, to subject them to immediate recall and to force them to undertake only policies that benefited the working class. Is he mad? Peter Garrett asked. That’s the sort of utopian nonsense I used to sing about.  We don’t sing anymore.

Yes said Shavers. That’s the problem. We don’t sing anymore.

Like all posts on this blog comments (see the link under the heading) close after 7 days.



Comment from Don Aitkin
Time March 12, 2013 at 8:18 am

Delicious! I wish I’d thought of it.

Comment from Bob Dick
Time March 12, 2013 at 12:27 pm

John, you may want to change “teacher” to “politician” in “Chris Bowen’s” fourth paragraph

Comment from Lorikeet
Time March 12, 2013 at 9:03 pm

If the government trained all politicians in our universities, they would be turning out even more corporate neo-communists like themselves.

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