Malcolm in the Middle

The Coalition has received a rather earth-shattering wake-up call as we mark the Labor party’s first twelve months in office.

According to the latest Newspoll survey, Labor now leads the Opposition by 59 per cent to 41 per cent on a two-party preferred basis.

This represents the Coalition’s worst performance since June, and its second-lowest support since the election.

Clearly, this is devastating news for the Liberal party, and The Liberal Party Leader Malcom Turnbull, who, in recent days, has been described by his own colleagues as a “CEO” running a private company, rather than acting as a consultative leader with his own party.

The Coalition has also been divided and fighting over a string of policies in recent days. Liberal frontbencher Andrew Robb says there is no doubt the Opposition’s shambolic split on the Government’s infrastructure bill last week has made the Coalition look “ragged”.

“I must concede I think there is the emergence of disunity within the Coalition that is working strongly against us and it’s a fact of history that voters quickly turn off with any sign of disunity,” he told Fran Kelly on Radio National.

However, from an observer’s perspective this disunity extends to far more than just differences on policies. In recent days we’ve witnessed increasingly isolated and renegade Liberal MP Tony Abbott declare that the Government’s pre-Christmas financial payments Of $1000 (or more) will simply be squandered on pokies and alcohol, while he didn’t voice this concern when the Howard Government made comparable cash handouts during their tenure.

Malcolm Turnbull’s conduct is also becoming increasingly autocratic, hence the disturbing “CEO” analogy which suggests a “top-down” authoritarian approach to positions on policy instead of a more consultative approach to decision-making.

Clearly things are not looking good for the Opposition. Satisfaction with Mr Turnbull as Opposition Leader fell five points to 47 per cent, and dissatisfaction rose five points to 32 per cent.

This is the first time in Mr Turnbull’s brief leadership that his satisfaction has dropped below 50 per cent, although he is still well ahead of Dr Nelson’s worst satisfaction rating of 31 per cent, and dissatisfaction of 48 per cent, in August.

Mr Rudd has reasserted his dominance over Mr Turnbull as preferred prime minister after the Opposition Leader initially improved on Dr Nelson’s position.

Since the Liberal leadership change in mid-September, Mr Rudd has steadily increased his 30-point lead over Mr Turnbull to last weekend’s 47-point lead of 66 per cent to Mr Turnbull’s 19 per cent.

The week before Dr Nelson was defeated by Mr Turnbull in the ballot for the Liberal leadership, Mr Rudd led Dr Nelson by 62 per cent to 16 per cent – a 46-point lead.

Kevin Rudd and Labor have shot back to record levels of voter support – with the biggest single rise in the ALP’s primary vote since the election, and with the Prime Minister’s satisfaction rating back up to 70 per cent.

Mr Rudd now leads the Opposition Leader as preferred prime minister by the same massive margin – 47 percentage points – he held over Dr Nelson the weekend before the Liberal leadership changed 10 weeks ago, The Australian reports.

Despite the global financial crisis and the impending hardship that is about to (and beginning to) be felt in Australia, it appears that voters are more aligned with the Prime Minister’s handling of the crisis, rather than heeding the call of an increasingly eratic and desparate opposition.

With only two points separating the ousting of Brendan Nelson, and Malcolm Turnbull’s current position, there must be some serious anxious navel gazing going on in Malcolm’s office, not to mention the Coalition.

I suspect Brendan won’t be dissapointed.



99 Responses

  1. People have witnessed first hand the operations of private companies and their CEOs over the last 10 years and I think they certainly do not want a government being operated like a Private Company.

    They want Government for all people with a sypathetic heart not a profit and surplus at all costs and bugger everyone else.

    Until the Liberal party move back to the centre and listen and act on behalf of all australians they will continue to receive these types of poll results, even during an economic downturn.

  2. Good point Shane, however I think a “move back to the centre” is just not within the physical makeup of the Liberal party. It’d be like asking a rabid dog to “give you a paw”.

  3. I suspect Brendan won’t be dissapointed.~reb

    No, I’m sure the good doctor will be feeling somewhat vindicated – if only in an emo kind of way.

    Until the Liberal party move back to the centre and listen and act on behalf of all australians they will continue to receive these types of poll results, even during an economic downturn.~shane

    On the contrary. Unless the Liberal party and its leader – whoever that poisoned chalice may be handed to next – stop agreeing with the government on everything – aside from quibbling about inconsequential detail after the event – and actually stands (up) for something, they might as well get used to opposition – because that’s where they’re going to be for the next couple of terms, at least.

    The Libs need to grow a pair and enunciate some real policy. They need to go back to their roots and rediscover what they stand for. It’s all there in their philosophy and their history. What our democracy doesn’t need is an opposition that wants to be all things to all people. Leave that kind of populism to the government.

  4. Tony

    The Liberals roots is the centre of politics. Thats what the word Liberal means. Instead they have become right wing extremists in many ways so I will have to disagree with you.

  5. “They need to go back to their roots and rediscover what they stand for.”

    What? Like:

    – Perpretrating discrimination against minorities?

    – Fearmongering of foreigners and non-anglo saxons?

    – Maligning and marginalising people of non-Christian faith while fostering relationships with the extreme religious right and cults like the Exclusive Brethren?

    Justifying policies of hatred and discrimination on certian people in society based on selective “Christian” doctrine

    – Supporting top end of town private enterprise at the expense of the lowly worker?

    – Slashing working conditions, holiday loadings and other entitlements of the ordinary worker?

    – Scrapping unfair dismissal laws and the right to challenge unfair dismissal?

    – Abolishing the miminum wage?

    – Absolving themselves of any social responsibility for those that are less fortunate?

    – Forcing the disabled and young mothers back to work?

    – Taxing the poor while alleviating tax for the rich?

    – Absolving themselves of any responsibility or accountability for their actions?

    Yeah, the Liberal party would be on to some real vote-winners there Tony. It worked last time didn’t it??

  6. No reb,
    Not exactly the list I had in mind. But what exactly is the point of both major parties reading from the same – centrist – song book? What happens to debate and the exchange of ideas then?

  7. (that would be singing from the same songbook)

  8. Tony

    Debate and echange of ideas went out the window ages ago. John Howard acted not on debate but on blind Ideology in his destruction of unions rather than see both sides. He also introduced workchoices with his blind ideology that business would still look after employees when all the protections were thrown to the wind. That is why he was booted out, not because of debate but because of blind ideology.

    It is like Tony Abbot, his absolute faith that the people of australia would spend their bonuses and baby bonuses wisely but now he is on the band wagon shouting from the rooftops that the poeple of australia will spend the new governments bonus on alcohol and gambling. What a hypocrit.

    I however can see that money from the previous government and money from this governments bonus will be spent on alcohol and gambling by some people. that is obvious, but not to Tony Abbot.

    There are many types of centre governments, the centre, the centre left and the centre right and all versions inbetween.

  9. reb, I think the Libs have a core of centrists in the party but the problem is the old guard who are still there and were the ones who propped up Howard’s autocratic party rule, e.g. Minchin being the number one culprit.

    If Malcolm wants to show true leadership then he should start an immediate cull of the old Liberal guard, and whilst he’s at it reform the Young Liberals who are becoming more radical and extremist. It would so good to see them not only lose their case against their misguided belief of left leaning political bias in education but actually get ridiculed for the nonsense it was.

    Also the Libs must once and for all disown this type of behaviour. Tom likes to highlight the times of bad union behaviour but rarely mentions where government and business have behaved just as if not more reprehensibly. There are still many in the Liberal party for whom this sort of behaviour is core ideology. Julie Bishop is one, Nick Minchin is the main proponent and sanctioner.

  10. Can’t let thsi go by – President George W-ya on God and Darwin:

    “You’re getting me way out of my lane here. I’m just a simple president.”

    Simple President 😆 Simple alright! The simplest one the world has ever seen 😆,27574,24773317-23109,00.html

    GWB “John is…the man of steel…” – JWH “…some of my detractors may not see me that way…” Ho! Ho! Ho! Some of your detractors? Only some ? Arrogant little pr!ck! Notice how he’s learnt not to look left when lying but he can’t help clearing his throat or pushing his chin out before the “truth” tumbles forth…aagh!

  11. …lose their case against their misguided belief of left leaning political bias in education but actually get ridiculed for the nonsense it was….Adrian @ 9

    …Adrian, you don’t believe that there is a left bias in teacher education?

  12. Well a committee (the previous Liberal government setup) adjudicated against the Young Liberals and found there was no left leaning bias in tertiary education or a predominately left culture in universities.

    The committee’s finding is that in view of the relatively tiny number of submissions received, from the hundreds of thousands of students who are said to be affected, there can be no basis for arguing that universities are under the control of the Left and that this is reflected in course content and teaching style. If there is a Left conspiracy to influence the direction of the nation’s affairs and its social and economic priorities through the process of subverting a generation of undergraduates this is not yet evident.

    It must be said that the committee processes of the Senate are not at all suited to the kind of inquiry that might have been imagined by its instigators. That is probably less important to them than the fact that the inquiry was held at all. On the other hand it might be argued that as even the most intensive specialist research would be unlikely to reach any conclusion as to the incidence of biased teaching, this inquiry has been as useful as any.

  13. TB – I’ve reflected a little on whether I think there is a left bias in teaching.

    I think there is something of a bias towards political correctness, and oddly (for me) I don’t think this is a bad thing.

    Young people should start from a sensitive, principled position. It is reasonable that they (over?) develop their social, environmental awareness during their youth. If the starting point was in the centre, they’d be hard-bitten old fogies like me by the time they’re 20.

    I think teaching ethics, social conscience , a “progressive” perspective is entirely appropriate. There’s plenty of time to off load principles as an adult.

  14. “There’s plenty of time to off load principles as an adult.”

    Tom, you never fail to give me a good laugh with these “off the cuff” one liners.

    I agree, there’s plenty of time to offload politically correct sensitivities as we age. In fact some over-compensate for having them in the first place!


  15. found there was no left leaning bias in tertiary education or a predominately left culture in universities

    That would surely surprise those actually working in the system, most of whom proudly profess their leftist credentials.

    Self-professed consevatives, on the other hand, are few and far between.

  16. It would so good to see them not only lose their case against their misguided belief of left leaning political bias in education but actually get ridiculed for the nonsense it was.

    Where have you been the last few days Adrian, they did lose it!

    Senate inquiry dismisses left-wing bias in universities:,24897,24752393-12332,00.html

    John Quiggin was disappointed he was not on a ‘left bias’ list 🙂

  17. I recall reading somewhere that there would be THREE Leaders of the Opposition prior to the Libs making a credible comeback.

    Nelson in my opinion was never given a fair go as there was always The Great White Hope Turnbull lurking in the background.

    Turnbull is #2 and will be an interim leader until the next best thing comes along. Turnbull is looking a bit Crean-ish to me.

  18. The teaching bias thing is way more complicated that simply saying there is or isn’t a left bias.

    I think a lot of lecturers at uni, and high school want to encourage independant thought in their students. Put another way, I believe that university was always intended to teach people to question their surrounding and arive at their own conclusions at how things worked based on their learning rather than simply rely on what they have been taught as representing the status quo. The arts, probably law (esp at some universities) and the earth sciences probably attract the more left leaning thinkers. Economics is probably fairly balanced overall and the physical sciences probably don’t lend themselves to either left or right thinking (it just is or it isn’t).

    What has happened over the past 15 years or so though is that universities have mover to a more vocational training focus. Students expect to be taught the answers, not some airy fairly sh!t about learning how to think, and Lecturers, and the Universities, respond to this due to increased feedback forms etc telling them what they should be doing better (as if the students would actualkly know!!). Universities now simply deliver what the students think they need rather than acknowledge what they actually do need, solely to keep students happy and student numbers up. Those lecturers who do encourage though and open communication are often seen as being lefties although in reality, they could be either way and simply want to help produce students who can think for themselves.

  19. My own perspective came from attending QUT to study a Masters in Education, Adult Learning (my Bachelors is in Business majoring in HRD) – the approach was quite different to UniSA – in that they wanted learning principles and processes to be tested against abstract and political theories, including Marxism, feminism (not gender equality BTW) and other obscure theories…as for practical application of learning theories and new technologies in the workplace (as hinted at on another thread by, Tom) – they were a bit sparse…

    I may have been “spoiled” at UniSA as it was an in-service degree (distance ed) and had to reflect what we did in the workplace – ie it was ‘practical’ and ‘competency based’ – (with reference to application of current texts and theories of course) – its just that the UniSA approach was aimed at learning and the QUT seemed to be aimed at indoctrination…

    …a Masters, as I understand it, is to develop and apply new techniques, that’s not what was being lectured, it was mostly learning theory as applied to political issues – a Phd is to postulate, develop and prove new theories…

    …I might add this was in the early to mid nineties and hopefully things have changed (it doesn’t seem that way though listening to local teachers and friends and acquaintences)…

  20. To add to the above (and apologies to Polly for the repeated posts), I saw an article the other day but can’t recall where saying that students felt fearful about stating their right wing views in universities for fear of being marked down. I have no doubt that this is the case but it does create a bit of a group think situation – the “lefties” have their rants in class and the “righties” zone out and put it all down to lefty whinging. The “righties” then vent in like minded arenas like the young Libs, Bolt’s and Ackemna’s blogs and social gatherings. There are very few forums where people openly debate the competing interests. If Universities are not encouraging this open dialog, then they are failing in their job of educationg and teaching people to think. Debating these issues forces you to challeneg your own perceptions in a way that group think never does.

    The greatest success of Blogocracy and now blogocrats, is that you do come accross competing views and have to try and explain your position. This is what Universities should be encouraging more of. It can be frustrating but it’s also enjoyable and makes us all better rounded and more knowledgeable. Welcome back to the political side of the Blog Tony of South Yarra – you add a more reasoned (usually) perspective to the right (but not necessarily correct 😉 ) side of the argument (I was a little dissapointed with your comments over at Bolt’s site because you seemed to have lost some of that reason that was challenging in a good way.

  21. Tony: my daughter at UQ has left-leaning algae ;))).

    Surely by the time a person is completing their degree or post graduate studies, they are able to think for themselves and so whether one lecturer or another is left-leaning or not isn’t relevant.

    Surely by this time in a person’s development students are capably of discenting a number of different ideas and coming to their own conclusions. Some will choose left of center, some will choose right of center and some will decide that they aren’t the slightest bit interested in politics.

  22. Back on topic…

    …Min, that is a great one liner “…Turnbull is looking a bit Crean-ish to me…” and describes the situation spot on…

    Simon just couldn’t get there and he did look “right” when he was ” Leader in waiting”…

    Turncoat lost any credence with me with the Republic fiasco…so all my thoughts are naturally negative…

    …I honestly can’t see Shrek as a leader mealy mouthed git he is, they have no choice but to bring back John – but wait isn’t Custard still on the benches? Yes, yes, St Peter, of course!

  23. 20. Dave55 | December 9, 2008 at 12:50 pm

    To add to the above (and apologies to Polly for the repeated posts), I saw an article the other day but can’t recall where saying that students felt fearful about stating their right wing views in universities for fear of being marked down. I have no doubt that this is the case…

    It’s not the case though Dave. This was an accusation bought up by the Young Liberals and found to be a load of poppycock by a committee set up by Howard.

    They asked 10’s of thousands of students to anonymously come forward with their privacy guaranteed, yet they got such a small amount of complaints (and probably they were Young Liberals) that the whole thing was thrown out.

  24. If it’s any consolation I got shot down in flames in a criminal law lecture for expressing left-wing views.

  25. 16. kittylitter | December 9, 2008 at 12:21 pm

    Where have you been the last few days Adrian, they did lose it!

    Reread my sentence, that’s what I said. “It was so good to see them lose their case…”

  26. 20. Dave55

    Hear! Hear! Dave

    I don’t post anywhere else (can’t get the bloody time!)

    Retired – what a nonsense word that is – I just got out of going to the youngest g/sons kindy break up (both grannies going) but I still have to “…just run the vac over…” and “…refill the bird bath…” and “…bring in the washing when its dry…”

    …I don’t know a man’s work is never done …and the model railway is gathering bloody dust too! People walk in a dn say “…you haven’t got very far since I last saw it…” Grrr!

    Gotta a fill the vacuum cleaner with two stroke and start ‘er up, now!

  27. 23. Adrian of Nowra

    Adrian, if you are already indoctrinated, would you know?

    BTW I just realised that you are talking across the board students I was referring to teacher education…

  28. TB

    I think people that go through Uni how have some practical experience in the areas they are studying learn more because they apply the teaching to what they know in practice; people who don’t have that experience have to rely on the theory they are being taught as that is all they know. I’m not sure how best to fix this but I suspect sandwich courses (ie teaching and compulsory work placemnent in holidays) are a good start.

    I’m not sure that I agree with you that a Masters is to develop and apply new techniques. Master’s degrees expose people to new and different theories; there is (as far as I can see from what other people have done and told me) very little practical education in them, rather they are more about giving people more theoretical tools to choose from in their future decision making. As to how to apply those techniques, it seems to me like the Uni’s leave that up to you.

    I actually skipped the Masters stage and opted for the PhD pathway so I shouldn’t really be commenting on it but the above simply reflects what I observed through others and by looking at the coursework. I also find it disappointing that many lecturers have very little practical experience. I made sure that I had worked in the industry before I started my PhD because the last thing I wanted was to tell people how to do something in real life without any of my own experience to back that up.

  29. Love it filling the vac with 2 stroke. When you’re finished you might like to come over and lend Jeff a hand.

  30. Dave

    My understanding (in its simplest terms) is that undergrads learn the theory, Masters apply the theory and Phd develop and test new theory – then undergrads learn the new theory etc….

    In my own case I was lucky that it was in service and had to apply theory in the real world – QUT were still playing with theories rather than applying them…

    Maybe people shouldn’t be able to go to uni until they have some practical experience for a few years…unis would love that loss of revenue…!

  31. #15. Tony of South Yarra | December 9, 2008 at 12:19 pm

    found there was no left leaning bias in tertiary education or a predominately left culture in universities

    That would surely surprise those actually working in the system, most of whom proudly profess their leftist credentials.

    Self-professed consevatives, on the other hand, are few and far between.

    Well sorry Tony, if a committee set up by Howard and looking at this for a year couldn’t find any then I guess they must be wrong and you’re right (small ‘r’ right that is).

    This is typical of the wingnuts who see left conspiracies and domination in everything. They screamed long and loud about left wing media bias winning Rudd the last election, when any real analysis of the MSM showed it to be predominately right wing and Howard had demonstrably the easiest run and the least scrutiny in the media than any PM since the advent of political reporting.

    Then they screamed ABC left wing bias. Yet as much as Alston tried and no matter how many stacked and narrow scoped enquiries he could muster to find ABC bias, the only bias they found was slightly right wing.

    And they always see left wing bias and brainwashing in education. It’s miracle there are any right wing voters with all the usurping the left do of children from birth (left wing union nurses) through pre-school (left wing child care employees) and onto tertiary education where it’s all dominated by the pinkos. Bloody hell its a wonder we’re a democracy and not communist.

    I don’t know what it is about the right (I’m talking wingnut variety) who live in an alternate universe and see reds under beds, yellow hordes overrunning everything and left domination of what they believe is rightfully theirs by birth.

  32. Adrian,

    My comment about it being the case was simply directed at pointing out that I’m sure that some people ‘feel’ that it is the case (I definitely don’t think the majority of people at Uni feel that way). The reality may be much different but this is about perceptions. The more people stay quiet based on an (incorrect) fear that they will be marked down simply reinforces the view in these people that the system is biased.

    Both the left and the right (to the extent that such tags are even useful) are, IMO poor at arguing their points well beacause they are used to expressing those opinons in group think arenas. When they have to argue it against someone of a different pursuasion, they struggle and resort to ideology and, often, abuse. This ends up only reinforcing those views.

    It seems to me that those of more centrist views are generally the better proponents of both sides of the spectrum because they have listened to both sides and arrive at a rough balance based on their own (varied) experiences. This is where the bulk of Australia sits and why centrist governement generally get voted in and extreme views rejected or reduced to senate minorities who are generally only voted in by the ideologues (the Greens being the exception here as they have progressibly moved away from the more extreme left view as Labor has moved to to the centre freeing up the middle left ground).

  33. Adrian of Nowra @ 31

    So true, could not have put it better myself. I was thinking the same thing, if there are only leftist commies eveywhere, then why do we have left and right and centre leaning people. Surely they would all be leftist commies. They have been claiming this for years and years.

    The right wing extremists destroy their own argument by the very existence of people with different ideas and opinions.

  34. TB @ 30

    I think you’re right about undergrad degress and PhD’s but I always looked at a Masters as being a higher level of theoretical learning in a focussed area, rather than having any practical application Education may be a little different in this regard but that definitely seems to be the case in Law and Sciences which is my area of experience.

    As for the experience thing, I don’t know the answer. I went straight from school into full time uni but had a broad practical experience from my growing-up experiences. I don’t think a compulsory 1-2 years after school work would help all that much.

    I do think that students should be able to live and study full time and only work a maximum of 10hrs per week outside uni. I am a very strong believer in people living on campus for some of their uni life. While some poeple object to students living a student lifestyle and going out and getting drunk together, the reality is that you learn a lot about how to interact with people from other backgrounds, areas of study etc by doing this and come out as a more rounded person as a result. Working fukll time in a retail store to pay for Uni which you only attend to go to classes and keeping your school and sport mates as your main group of friends for life doesn’t really improve your knowldge of the world all that much.

  35. 25. Adrian of Nowra

    Oh, sorry Adrian, thought you said ‘it would be good…’ (wasn’t meant as a dig BTW, more a (?witty) remark about you not being up with the news – never!). I blame my ‘quick skimming’ which does lead me to mistake words, and in your case, the whole sentence – cheers!

  36. Turdball, the great hope of the Libs has been going backwards at an alarming rate, soon he will be in Lord Nelsons popularity territory. How can someone who stands for nothing who is leading a party that standsa for nothing expect better results. Turdball’s omnly claim to fame is the record number of policies by Rudd he supports, and by the time any bill gets to parliment he finds a way to backflip. I believe that he shoots from the mouth and then consults his party on their position, it seems that they don’t support much he says. This is getting quite boring really.

  37. In my own case I was lucky that it was in service and had to apply theory in the real world – QUT were still playing with theories rather than applying them…

    Maybe people shouldn’t be able to go to uni until they have some practical experience for a few years…unis would love that loss of revenue…!

    Jeebus TB, you never stop pushing that barrow!

    What part of your ‘not living in the real world’ are most uni students these days? The students are only just scraping by on passes instead of excelling in their studies because they are studying full time and also working part time to survive and eat. They are too tired from their ‘real world’ job to properly study. Not everyone has wealthy parents who can afford to buy them a degree and an investment house to live in whilst they do nothing but lounge around complaining of ‘lefty’ bias!.

  38. well that’s the vacuuming done – pretty quick, hey?

    34. Dave55

    Yes, Dave, I feel about the “networking” thing pretty much the same – as a line manager it wasn’t too bad (only apprenticeship education then) but as I ‘climbed’ – the “network’ showed up more and more and tended to isolate me a bit (both private school and uni)…strangely, when I graduated and started the consultancy it was BOTH the degree and the apprenticeship that got me work (one often opened the door and the other reinforced my ‘use’ to the organisation) depending on the organisation…

    …as for networking both my son and I served in RAEME and the network outside the ADF is very powerful – lots of trust and strong mateship…especially for him having completed an Army Apprenticeship – he’s a tech sales manager now and the RAEME network is very useful dealing with engineers, maintenance managers etc., now in civvie street.

  39. Didn’t take it as a dig kitty, never from you anyway, always being polite as you are.

  40. Not everyone has wealthy parents who can afford to buy them a degree and an investment house to live in whilst they do nothing but lounge around complaining of ‘lefty’ bias!.

    Selective reading again, kitty, you of all people should know my history by now…

  41. TB

    I think it goes beyond networking although that is clearly important. What I found with the socialising aspect and dorm style eateries etc is that you talk about what is does and where they come from. From this you learn more about other disciplines and backgrounds. Clearly this level of understanding isn’t to the same level as if you did the other degree but you do get some knowledge of these other disciplines and a greater understanding of what other people do and contribute to society. This I think is what the early ‘universities’ around the time of the Greeks etc were all about – discussing anything and everything and learning as much as you can and letting that learning contribute to what you do. Only a fool would think that all your learning is done in the class room or through books. Take this Blog for example – it is neither class room, nor a book yet it is a great forum for generally discussing stuff that interests us. I think most of us have learn’t quite a bit from our discussions at Blogocracy, Blogocrats etc. This is just the same as the type of discussions I was talking about should occur more at uni but in a much more face to face basis where you also learn more interpersonal skills etc.

  42. Hmnmm – that shoudl have read:

    …that you talk about what each other does and where they come from …

  43. Masters Degrees! Best not to generalise because there are so many different models both within and across institutions. For some. the emphasis is on research with very little (if any) coursework. For others, the emphasis is reversed. The thesis might not be the major outcome

    Over time, change invariably occurs. It is a moving feast and so it should be.

    BTW, it’s best not to generalise about PhDs as well. Traditionally, a PhD was about breaking new ground – an ever narrowing search. These days, some PhD programs are about broadening one’s horizons.

    All approaches have their strengths and weaknesses.

    Take Distance Education for example. Distance Education allows for people to study in their own time, and to some extent, at their own pace,.which are strengths. However, Distance Education suffers because individuals, by and large, are not confronted by other students with completely different ideas.

    If you believe ‘education’ has an important social dimension, then Distance Education whether it be at primary, secondary or tertiary level has a significant downside.

    But one should not generalise.

  44. Meet the new vanguard in culture wars:

    Stung into action by John Howard’s loss, Young Liberals are fighting hard on campus, writes Harriet Alexander…

    …It is unacceptable for lecturers to mark down students who do not comply with their world view. But academics say Liberal students have come at the issue from the wrong end, seeking evidence to support their predetermined conclusion, rather than allowing facts to inform their judgment…

    …”This comes from the US, directly,” Allport says. “If a student isn’t very happy with the grade they have been given … every single university, within their act, has student grievance procedures and students can contest their grades.”

    The education spokesman for the NSW Greens, John Kaye, says the campaign is reminiscent of McCarthyism.

    “It is clear that the Young Liberals have no understanding of the culture of open inquiry and free discourse,” Kaye says.

  45. Nature @43. Agree absolutely. With DE there is no exchange of ideas, it’s just data processing. The DE center sends off photocopied sheets and the child fills in the sheets/completes set tasks and it’s posted back again.

  46. Traditionally, a PhD was about breaking new ground – an ever narrowing search.

    Lol. That reminds me of the famous (mis)quote unfairly attributed to a 19th century patents officer:

    “everything that can be invented has been invented.”

  47. I dont know what is wrong,The Coalition have one Abbott two Bishops yet they are trailing The Labor Party,may be it’s time to bring in the Pope.

  48. The Young Liberals: the Howard Youth

  49. Tony of South Yarra. Yes there is much to be discovered. Indeed, for all intents and purposes, an infinite amount.

    I think you misunderstand my statement If someone is doing a PhD, in say science, one starts with an undergraduate degree that may include chemistry, physics, biology etc. A wide rather than a narrow range

    As they move through their studies, they tend to specialise. Their ‘range’ narrows while the ‘depth’ increases. Traditionally, a PhD is characterised by a ‘narrow’ focus undertaken at great ‘depth’.

    Yes Min, children from the bush who transistion from DE to boarding school sometimes find it one hell of a shock. The social aspects of learning are often underestimated

  50. Can’t wait for the midweek rant bit so I’ll post this here.

    Peter Garrett might not call this a backflip, but that’s what it is.

    The Greens have got this entirely wrong… The government’s objectives have always been the continuation of elite classical music training into 2009 and beyond but with substantial changes to the way that is governed and administered, including new management and board. The intention was never that ANAM would close, but rather that the government would redirect its $2.5 million commitment to a new organisation from 2009. That will still happen.

    So ANAM lives on.

  51. Now now Caney – you know those sort of associations get people into trouble ….

  52. Godwins Law Dave? I suppose I lose then.

    My only excuse being I was twigged by Kitty’s post (#44):

    Stung into action by John Howard’s loss, Young Liberals are fighting hard

  53. 43. Nature 5

    Fair call, N5

  54. Hi Caney, you’re right as ever 🙂

    Is anyone here familiar with Webdiary? There is a marvellous blogger named Malcolm B. Duncan, himself a lawyer, and I think a wannabe politician who knows a bit about Howard’s influence in NSW. MBD reviewed The Howard Drears -pt1

    EPISODE 1: A Hen in the Bathhouse

    …Gobsmacking. These fools were allowed to run the country…

    …I have never met Mr Howard but I have always despised him. Years after I had walked out of the Young Liberals I realized he was the real reason I had left. His influence on the NSW machine has brought it to its current apogee. You would have thought that blind Freddie couldn’t have lost the last State election standing against a dill like Morris, but the man from Vaucluse did it. Strange place Vaucluse. Strange place the conservative parties. There are only three leaders I can think of in Australia who have not only lost an election but their seats with it: Bruce, Howard and TOM’s predecessor but two, Peter Coleman. Wait for next time: TOM has managed to turn Wentworth into a marginal for the first time in its history. Another 1% and he goes into history as well in more ways than one…

  55. I would like to see a generational change in the opposition but that will take at least two elections in my opinion.

    I wonder how Nelson would have performed if Turnbull was not constantly white-anting him at every opportunity and I don’t really believe that he is getting much joy at all in the polls…maybe a bit of vindication though.

    ps I have a hunch that Carlyle whose posts I’ve always enjoyed just might turn up here…

  56. Caney, Actually I don’t give a shIt. I just find it amusing that people do seriously compare Fascism and the Libs and Communism and Labor. I don’t think you were (seriously that is) doing the former.

    BTW, what was the image link – didn’t work for me …?

  57. scaper

    As per previous comments by myself I believed Brendan Nelson did not get a fair go at oppisition leader and the knives were in his back form day 1. I still maintain he would have over time developed as a much better leader than Malcolm Turnbull and continue to maintain that opinion.

  58. Scaper …

    I would like to see a generational change in the opposition i>

    me too, just not the generation that is currently coming through. All the young Libs that I have met are complete tossers – mini Downers and even more extreme right wingers. Howard put up with them because they idolised him but I think even he distanced himself from some of their more bizare policies and statements.

  59. “I would like to see a generational change in the opposition but that will take at least two elections in my opinion.”

    Perhaps, although I think it it’ll more likely take something akin to “the final solution” for reasons Dave55 mentions @58.

  60. Dave, I too have had a few exchanges with the people you describe but also have been impressed by one or two that are not in most favour with the party machine and that is where the real problem is in my opinion.

    I don’t really have a problem with the government at all, I just believe that for a democracy to function there has to be an alternative for the people and I don’t see that on the horizon!

    Let’s face it, the Democrats are gone, the Greens are bereft of a comprehensive policy platform and get a lot of votes through default and the other rag tags are just too far out there to even be considered.

    Puts on flak jacket…so what is the answer…the creation of a new party that takes the best from the three but discards the baggage…a kind of conservative, environmental socialist charter or we just hope that this government in power just steams along until the other two parties actually up-talent to be trusted as a governing force???

    I have made this point quite clear in the past…I fear that federal politics is going down the same path as their state counterparts and I am very concerned!

  61. The answer is more independents who can vote on their conscience and not along a party platform.

  62. Quotable quote from David Spears of Sky News. This is the sort of poll that could shock some Coalition PMs into some sort of reality.

    Yep..could happen…

  63. Shane, I totally agree but they need to organise into some form of alliance in my opinion if they want to govern in their own right to counter the very well entrenched party machines.

    I never agreed with most of the policies of One Nation but it was an example of the difficulties that would be encountered by an emergent political force.

  64. scaper

    One Nation was a political party I am talking more like Peter Andren where none of them are in a party and they can all propose legislation and amendments and all politicians can vote with their own beliefs and not ideology.

  65. Don’t laugh, but I think that the Nats under Barnaby Joyce are in with a chance. Barnaby under Howard proved himself as a person of character and recently reinforced by refusing Turnbull’s bribe of a front bench position.

  66. Sticks head out of dog house…hi Min, Barnaby is a man of conviction in my opinion and I wish there was many more like himself in the political fray.

  67. scaper…

    A mate and I suggested something like that in school – him right and me centre left. The FDP (or Factional Dispute Party). We scrapped the idea because the Labor Party beat us to it but I’m beginning to think the Lib/Nats have also taken it on board.

    I’m sure there are a couple of good younger Libs around. There are a couple in the NSW Parliament that have impressed me although I must say, I think the younger Labor mob are much more impressive.

    I still long for the Dems to come back to life 😦

  68. Dave55 at number 56 wrote:

    amusing that people do seriously compare Fascism and the Libs

    What’s the difference between a right-winger like Howard and a fully-fledged fascist?

    Answer: Only a matter of degree.

  69. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading the thoughtful contributions on this thread; Reb, I congratulate you particularly on your lucid post @5.
    Your comments cover a common theme which defined JWH, and by extension, the Liberal Party, albeit, at his (JWH) worst.
    I consider JWH to be THE most polarising figure in Australian politics since Menzies, who, BTW, just happens to be JWH’s hero ( OB almost lets out a technicolor yawn).

    The common JWH theme as I see it, consists of 3 main reactionary components:
    1. Privilege
    2. Fear
    3. Discrimination

    As the hour is late I shall have more to say on these points at another time (soon).

  70. You forgot;

    4. Division

    Divisiveness was an ingrained Howard meme and one he used extensively both within the party apparatus and across the Australian community.

  71. I agree Adrian, totally.

    The egalitarian nature of Australian society tell us that no matter how much derision we pour on the ‘umpire’, Australians have shown time after time that ‘we’ believe in the concept of ‘the umpire’.
    By introducing Workchoices JWH dismissed the Industrial Arbitration Commission, and by so doing, dismissed the umpire, which in turn empowered a minority group against a larger group. Dumb politics. The larger (working) group holds much more power at the polling booth.
    JHW’s choosing of a white, anglo-saxon, anglican archbishop, as GG was a brain snap decision, one which showed clearly to where JWH was steering Australia.
    Take Bennelong as an example.
    Australians believe in organising themselves into autonomous collectives of various shapes, guided by State rules of association.
    JWH chose to remove the ‘compulsory fee’ element from University Student Guilds on University campuses Australia wide. Right wing ideology at its worst, which once more shows how JWH chose to break down society by denying the people the right to organise their own affairs.
    9/11, Tampa, Children Overboard, Australia’s dislike of Paul Keating shows in fact that JWH did not win one election on ‘Liberal’ merit. JWH reverted to old faithful, ‘fear, divide and rule’.
    The Haneef case showed clearly how Liberals, under the leadership of JWH, would and could pervert the course of justice. This is exactly what a majority of immigrants to this nation are running from. Once again, JWH ably assisted by Kevin Andrews dismissed the umpire in an effort to circumvent justice.
    In summary, JWH is a living example of how not to gain the trust and confidence of an electorate.
    The lack of a clear and concise political manifesto showing the current ‘Liberal’ philosophy an how it would shape Australia shows the moribund state of the Liberal Party. This is further reflected by the choice of Turnbull and Bishop as a leadership duo.

  72. Oftenbark

    I agree. The people never forgave or forgot that the democrats allowed the GST to be passed and look where they are now.

    The Liberal party keep saying ‘workchoices’ is dead and gone and lets forget about it and move on. They are wise to do this at every opportunity as it will be on peoples minds at the next few elections.

    Problem is most of the old guard that went along with ‘workchoices’ and tried to defend the indefensible are still in the shadow cabinet as a glaring reminder to voters of the extremeism of the legislation.

  73. Once more I agree entirely Shane.

    The now ironically infamous JWH/Lees handshake on the GST legislation shows how a handshake with the hateful JWH can lead to political oblivion.

    BTW, I was/am in favour of GST for industrial and other reasons which I will not go into at this stage.

    Workchoices can now be seen in the light of shifting the power base to the minority, which, when applied in practical terms is no different to ‘deregulating the market’ in terms of the recent financial meltdown.
    The more the Liberals/Conservatives chant the mantra of law and order, the more they seem to bring about the demise of both law and order.

  74. Oftenbark

    I am not in favour of the GST as it has hurt the poorest in our community. Pensioners pay GST on electricity, phone and any services they need attended to by tradespeople. The one off payment of $500 did jack sh!t for them.

  75. Sticks head out of dog house…hi Min, Barnaby is a man of conviction in my opinion and I wish there was many more like himself in the political fray.

    Hi are never in the dog house. Love and hugs always.

    I’ve been a wee bit quiet due to someone whose pic will arrive into your inbox about now.

  76. Just got it Min…that looks like one healthy little girl there, what was the birth weight?

    You must be chuffed and I hope to be around to see a grandchild produced by scapette.

  77. Oftenbark | December 10, 2008 at 1:52 am

    I thought that I’d have try at this one. The Methods of Howard:

    1. The Set-Up. Ensure that your target has at least 2 weeks, preferably a month of negative publicity, for example disabled people/pensioners/refugees.
    2. The Double Set-Up. Door stop interviews reaffirming The Set Up. How something must be done about the rorting of the system by the above mentioned disabled/pensioners/refugees.
    3. The Affirmation. Present a solution, crack down on this rorting by the above mentioned disabled/pensioners and refugees.
    4. Stand back and receive the applause.

    And adversaries such as World Vision and the churches are left in your wake.

  78. Hello scaper. She’s only a littlie, just over 7lb, but thriving. They’re back home this afternoon and we’re up to Cairns Friday for a quick visit as hubby can’t take more than a day or 2 off work.

  79. Min, got Mrs scaper next to me and scapette was just over 7lb too…we are both home early because we want to attend scapette’s end of year presentation and to receive her report card.

    I’m sure it will be a good one as usual…gloat, gloat, gloat…LOL!

  80. I am absolutely positive that the scapette’s report card will be excellent. Not only good looks but intelligence. But don’t worry if it’s not. Youngest received, Could Do Better if tried harder for science with a middly mark and now she’s more than half way through her PhD in science. One never knows where life is going to take one.

  81. Shane in Qld @74. Pensioners also pay tax aka the GST on the food that they eat. For example if a pensioner buys a pie or a bun or a biscuit or a potato crisp, then they are paying tax via the GST.

  82. I think this post headline should have read – Malcolm at the Bottom.

    Turnbull has done a very poor job as Liberal leader so far in my opinion. He really didn’t help himself when he stated so many positions as Shadow Treasurer that are contrary to his positions now. He seems to say the government’s policy is good … actually it is highly flawed… Where’s his policy though?

    He is leading a team of petulant and immature people. It was ridiculous when some Liberal MPs launched baseless attacks on the credibility of the Treasury Secretary, Ken Henry, and (to a lesser extent) on the Reserve Bank Governor, Glenn Stevens.

    Many Liberal MPs continue to act with absurd arrogance. They mainly act like hypocrites taking little swipes at the government here and there, usually not based on anything substantive – just because their only aim is to try and score political points.

    They do not have much in the way of policy and that is generally not their focus.

    I have and will continue to have absolutely no time for this party whilst their aim is to take little pot-shots at Labor without being constructive and focusing on how they can do better. They need to have some coherent policy.

    I think that reports that say the Nationals senators (and 2 Liberals) crossing the floor in the senate equals disunity which is bad, is nonsense. I commend that sort of action. The Nationals would have been going against their principles and constituents if they voted for the legislation, so they did the right thing, in my opinion. I hate this toeing the party line business, particularly in the senate. What the actions of those senators showed was the ability to think for themselves and a willingness to act on their conscience, rather than act like a herd of sheep, which is a good thing.

  83. Good old Malcolm at the Bottom at it again.

    Just got home to switch on the news and Malcolm sprouting doom and gloom all over the place. Whilst Glenn Stevens and Wayne Swan were talking a little optimism in the dark days ahead because of lower petrol prices and interest rates, Malcolm in his deepest most sombre timbre was saying how we’ll all be rooned.

    Of course not a single word on what he would do to ensure we won’t be rooned, but be assured he will be our saviour if we just blindly follow him and take him on his word without question.

  84. Just me. But if Turnbull can’t manage a Barnaby Joyce, then how is he supposed to run a country.

    As I stated previously..very Crean-ish (and you may quote me).

  85. I wonder if Nelson would have handled it better as the opposition leader…Turnbull’s handling of this issue is contemptible in my opinion.

  86. And he fails again.

    Just to say something and dump on the government whilst sounding like he knows it all, Malcolm in screaming that Rudd’s banking package is a complete failure got it totally wrong.

    Latest financial data indicates the banks are starting to improve and the financial system in this country is operating better than it did before the government assistance, directly linked to the government stimulus and guarantee packages.

    I honestly don’t know how Turnbull became a successful businessman, he’s was certainly hopeless as a shadow treasurer (Costello must laugh himself to sleep each night) and woeful on financial matters as opposition leader.

  87. Shane and Min:

    I respectfully sympathise with the financial plight of our elderly citizens, current and past.

    However, on the point of GST being applicable to certain foodstuffs, which, of course, is a basic necessity, I recall the rodent promising to leave no pensioner out of pocket due to cost effect on food, to which end the rodent promised to increase pensions thus. Honest question: Did the rodent carry through with that promise?

  88. Min @ 84 – “But if Turnbull can’t manage a Barnaby Joyce, then how is he supposed to run a country.”

    Barnaby Joyce is in a different party.

    If you were to be critical of Turnbull about Joyce, I suppose you’d hve to be even more critical of both Hawke and Keating.

    A member of both governments was Graeme Campbell., member for Kalgoolie.

    Of course you’ll remember that Campbell was opposed to sanctions against South Africa, opposed indigenous land rights, gave speeches to the League of Rights etc

    He was an embarrassment to both the AP and the parliament, but I wouldn’t necessarily say that the Hawke or Keating are diminished by the fact that he was their political colleague.

    I think a similar degree of latitude should be extended to Turnbull.

  89. Oftenbark

    The previous government increased pensions by 4% instead of the originally planned 2% to offset the GST.

    Now read this link and see how items that are used by pensioners are effected in the CPI. It is a 2006 report but shows the dilemma of not only pensioners but all low paid earners.

  90. Tom of Melbourne | December 11, 2008 at 9:30 am
    Min @ 84 – “But if Turnbull can’t manage a Barnaby Joyce, then how is he supposed to run a country.”

    Barnaby Joyce is in a different party.

    Tom, it’s called The Coalition.

  91. Excellent article shaneinqld. A while ago someone was asking how single pensioners (mostly of whom are elderly women) managed to eat. The answer is, you buy Continental packet meals when they’re on special at Coles or Woolies for 99cents and you split the meal over 2 evenings.

  92. Min @ 90, so does the fact that Graeme Campbell was in the same party as Hawke and Keating cause you to reflect more negatively on their leadership or the governments that Campbell was part of??

  93. 92.

    Yes Tom it does and always has.

    Corrupt, unscrupulous, unprofessional and inept pollies have always reflected on the party they belong to, especially if that party continues to harbour and support them instead of immediately moving them on.

    The exception is of course corrupt, unscrupulous, unprofessional and inept independents.

  94. Min

    It just showed that despite the previous government claiming that pensioners received more than the CPI whihc they did at times. They actually went backwards in their ability to purchase the necessities.

    Tony Abbot even acknowledged this to me on his open blog a number of months ago.

  95. Tom. Obviously nothing at all wrong with dissent. However, it’s a problem for Turnbull that he is now confronted with major insurrection in the ranks viz the anti-Bishop factions and good old Barnaby plus Shane Stone throwing in his three penny’s worth re ending the Coalition.

    Barnaby of course has ‘the key’. Should the Libs choose to end the Coalition then it will be several decades and someone with more strength of character than Turnbull to be able to gather enough resources (money plus people) to form a government. Barnaby is calling Turnbull’s bluff…and good luck to Barnaby in his endeavours. About time that the Nats found their you-know-whats.

  96. Thanks for the link Shane. Seems as though the rodent kept true to despicable form. The a’hole.

  97. Oftenbark

    Both sides lie and use figures to manipulate their cause. The Howard government stated it increased pensions over CPI. It did but when you analyse what comprises the CPI figure and remove what is not applicable to pensioners and the low paid you get the true picture.

    Once again smoke and mirrors with statistics. Thing is both sides do this.

  98. More infighting amongst the opposition from what I heard on the radio this morning. Nationals are getting all uppity and the Libs have called for Malcolm to resolve the situation.

  99. Yes Shane: I was going to mention the CPI increase as the rodent’s way of applying the smoke and mirrors.
    I believe KRudd took the easy populist option in awarding his latest one-off pension giveaway.
    As I see it, attitude to ‘pensions’ and the allocation of same is a social philosophy, not an opportunity for some politician to indulge in a magnanimous gesture.
    Pensioners wished to rest in the knowledge that society was not leaving them behind financially thereby further forcing them to live on the margins of society. An increase in pensions, which then may have tied those increased pensions to automatic future increases in line with CPI figures was the way to go IMHO. But hey, that’s just how I see it.

    Adrian: History will recount many instances where political coalitions of convenience have fallen apart, or required massaging, which is to say say concessions are required by both parties involved.
    The WA political situation is a case in point.
    The next few months will define Turnbull’s leadership capabilities, that is, as a leader of men and women.
    I’ll go out on a limb and say that Malcolm’s ego will be his downfall.

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