AUSTRALIAN COUNCIL FOR THE DEFENCE OF GOVERNMENT SCHOOLS - D.O.G.S.
PRESS RELEASE 141#.
23 March 2006
THE AGE - EDUCATION TRAINING AND REFORM BILL AND THE ROLE OF THE PRESS IN A DEMOCRACY
" The Press exists to supply the information which the public needs to make political decisions" A Free Press, The Times Literary Supplement, 18 November 1955.
" It is the duty of news media to report all the news, so that readers and viewers may have the precious right of democracy, the right to form their own judgements, to make up their own minds, and not have someone else make them up for them." The Herald, May 7, 1970 Editorial.
The Age has failed on the above two tests when it comes to the Education and Training Reform Bill and the Discussion papers which preceded this proposed legislation.
The behaviour of The Age in this matter is even more appalling because it is considered to be a paper of record and world repute. DOGS suggest that readers compare the performance of The Age on this matter and that of the English Guardian newspaper and its handling of Blair's comparable White Paper and recent legislation. There is no comparison. The Age has let down the vast majority of Victoria's children and their parents who attend our State Schools.
To make matters worse, the leading persons in the Age must know of the poor quality of its two competitors in relation to discussion on questions of public education : Murdoch's Herald Sun and The Australian,.The Australian education commentary is overtly biased against public education and unashamedly peddles privatization of the worst kind.
Instant experts and the alleged "wise" persons must know that the checks and balances have broken down in relation to questions of public education. They must know the weaknesses of the Victorian Principal and Teacher organizations. They must also know that while the parents and school council groups are willing they have been enfeebled, particularly with their connection with ALP political factions and Labor governments since the 1970s.
EDUCATION AND TRAINING REFORM BILL DESERVES, PROPER, DEEPER AND BROADER CONSIDERATION BY THE PRESS BECAUSE IT IS REVOLUTIONARY AND REPLACES THE MOST VITAL PIECE OF VICTORIAN LEGISLATION ON THE STATUTE BOOKS SINCE ADULT SUFFRAGE.
The Age should get its act together.
i. The Age Misled:
DOGS urge the Age to go back and assess whether the editor and journalists of the Age were deceived when they wrote the July 25 2005 Age Editorial: " Keeping Faith in Secular Schools" DOGS quote from this editorial:
" Legislative recognition of the status quo: The Governments stated objective, should not open doors to unwanted change."
The Age and their readers were deceived when they were led to believe this statement. The recently introduced Bill does not keep the status quo. What is the Age going to do about this?
ii. The Age Should Look in the Mirror
In the Age editorial of 28 September 2004, "Truth or Dare: The New Politics", the editorial writers used the following words:
" It is not just truth in Government that has gone missing. The debate itself is lost....It is not just the critics who are being marginalized. It is debate itself."
About a year later, Martin Flanagan, a staff writer on the Age newspaper , wrote on the Opinion Page on 22 August 2005:
"Debate in Australia is about to get dangerously narrow.....Let's have a real debate."
As late as yesterday 22 March 2006, DOGS, with some amusement read the following editorial:
"Democracy Stifled by the Sounds of Silence:
A diversity of opinion is a necessity for a democracy. It must not be allowed to be curtailed by political agendas and apathy. ...we note that the loss of any voice of principled dissent, regardless of party, ideology or creed, is a diminution of the body politic and an erosion of the walls of democracy....To speak out now is often mislabelled dissent, and dissent has come to be a pejorative term. Democracy and society, needs a plurality of opinion."
The DOGS are both amused and mystified by this statement. After 36 years of censorship of the DOGS by the Age, they now know exactly what the Age has been doing for all that time . The sounds of silence about the truth of State Aid have been deafening - unless DOGS pay out tens of thousands of dollars for Age Advertisements. We have certainly done this - and watch this space for the next PAID Advertisement - but we are not yet stifled.
DOGS RESPOND AS FOLLOWS:
The above are all fine, accurate words and sentiments. But we ask "When is the Age going to Apply them to the Education and training Reform Bill? "
1. WHERE IS THE DEEP AND MEANINGFUL DEBATE AND INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALISM ON THIS VITAL LEGISLATION?
2. WHERE ARE THE BEN HILLS OF THE AGE? Where are the investigative Reporters revealing to the public answers to many questions on this matter?
3. WHY IS THERE APPARENTLY SO LITTLE PUBLICLY AVAILABLE INFORMATION FROM THE TEACHER AND PRINCIPAL GROUPS ON THIS FUNDAMENTAL ISSUE? HAVE A LOOK AT THEIR WEB SITES? For instance, on the AEU (Victorian branch) website, the last activity on this matter is May 2005 and there is no campaign or even a whisper since that date. Try if you can to find anything about it on the Principal organization's website. Parents Victoria have tried and indicated concern at lack of proper consultation processes.
4. DO THE TEACHERS UNION IN VICTORIA HAVE A TRACK RECORD FOR REALLY FIGHTING FOR PUBLIC EDUCATION OR DO THEY WANT TO FULFILL THE 1980s PLAN TO JOIN IN WITH THE PRIVATE SCHOOLS (WHICH THIS LEGISLATION , IN VARIOUS WAYS, WILL DO)
5. WHAT ROLE IF ANY, DOES THE COUNCIL FOR CHRISTIAN EDUCATION IN SCHOOLS PLAY IN THIS WHOLE EXERCISE? DO THEY AND THEIR FRIENDS STAND TO GAIN FROM THE RELIGIOUS EDUCATION PROVISIONS IN THE BILL ?
6. WHY ARE THE PRIVATE SCHOOLS KEEPING THEIR DISCUSSIONS IN HOUSE? WHAT ARE THESE DISCUSSIONS ANYWAY - BECAUSE SUPPORTERS OF PUBLIC SCHOOLS HAVE EVERY RIGHT TO KNOW ABOUT THEIR DELIBERATIONS. AS TAXPAYERS WE PAY FOR THEM AND OUR SCHOOLS WILL BE ADVERSELY AFFECTED BY THEIR MACHINATIONS.
7. WHY WAS THIS TYPE OF LEGISLATION AND WEASEL WORDS CHOSEN FROM THE MANY ALTERNATIVES?
8 HOW COME NOBODY EXCEPT THE DOGS IS TALKING ABOUT BRACKS NOT HAVING A MANDATE TO BRING THIS BILL FORWARD? NO MENTION WAS MADE OF THE RE-WRITE OF EDUCATION LEGISLATION IN THE 2002 ELECTORAL PLATFORM.
9. WHAT OF THE SHADOWY, POWERFUL INFLUENCE OF THOSE ADVISERS WHO ARE NOT SUPPORTERS OF PUBLIC EDUCATION, BUT WHO HAVE OBTAINED POSITIONS OF INFLUENCE IN KOSKY'S ADMINISTRATION?
The list of questions could continue. But The Age has a responsibility to immediately, continuously and thoroughly discuss the Education and Training Reform Legislation. But please, spare the majority of Victorian children and their parents and teachers the usual suspects - such as academics, journalists, teachers and principals who have no commitment to and /or knowledge of public education .
DOGS encourages the Age to practice what it preaches and cleanse the Augean education stable.
DOGS WILL KEEP READERS INFORMED ON THE ABOVE MATTER.
For further discussion on these matters, listen to 3CR, 855 on the am dial
12.30 p.m. next Saturday.
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