Archive for the ‘Politics: Economy’ Category


Gillard’s $222m Chaplain Splurge & Why It’s Misguided

In Politics: Economy,Politics: Genral on May 17, 2011 by mjwill91

It was in grade five that I began to question certain parts of the education that I was receiving at the private school I was being sent to. I began noticing inconsistencies and plain contradictions in the things that my teachers were saying. One minute they’d be talking about a “God of peace and love”, next minute they’d be describing the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, the trials of Job or the massacres of Exodus, all either directly done by “the hand of God” or through God’s divine “machinations”. It wasn’t long after this that my parents, life long atheists told me why they’d enrolled me in a religious school in the first place. They said to me, “no parent has the right to tell their child what to believe, you had the right to decide for yourself what you wanted to believe”. At the end of the year I asked my parents to cancel my enrolment and to enrol me at the local public school instead as I no longer felt comfortable there.

Religion and irreligion are topics I am now strongly vocal about, yet you probably won’t read much of it in this blog, mainly because I realise the utter futility of trying to argue with a believer, the near impossibility of converting them. However, today my interest was piqued by something that world-renowned physicist Stephen Hawking said in a recent interview with the Guardian newspaper,

Professor Stephen Hawking in 2010

“I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when its components fail… There is no heaven or afterlife for broken down computers; that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark”

While I have no interest debating that quote, or the merits of his argument here, what the quote did remind me of is the current debate re: chaplains in schools, and whether or not the government should be increasing chaplain funding during a so called “tough budget” (which in reality should only be one step up from an austerity budget- which this one clearly isn’t).

Now, the high school I went to had both a chaplain and a guidance counsellor, of which I’m glad, students deserve the right to choose between religious and secular advisors when it comes to seeking advice. I remember going to both during my time there. The first time was to the chaplain, I was sent as part of a group who witnessed a close friend nearly choke to death during a seizure in grade eight. It wasn’t particularly useful for me, growing up in the house with an epileptic parent means I’ve seen and dealt with tonic-clonic seizures before- but it was a lot of help for the others in the group, all visibly shaken by the ordeal.

Now, the several trips to the guidance counsellor were really more geared towards planning my transition from secondary to tertiary study, of which she did a brilliant job. I never went to see her for any sort of personal issue, although from the amount of literature in her office, it was clear that a fair few people did.

Now, I’d say we had “the best of both worlds” in high school- or at the very least, we had a choice. This wasn’t the case at another local high school, where a depressed year 11 student, who happened also to be pregnant was turned away by the school’s female chaplain, because the chaplain refused to help someone who had gotten pregnant and/or had sex before marriage.

This budget increased the funding for chaplains in schools to $222 million. $222 MILLION. I’m sorry, but for a government that is supposed to be secular, run by someone by who claims to be atheist – this really isn’t good enough. While students deserve the right to access help, wouldn’t it make more sense for the person they are receiving help from be an officially trained, secular counsellor? Sure, some kids in high school might have some sort of specifically religious based issue that a chaplain would be better advising them on, but I’m fairly sure that situation would be in the absolutely minority of cases.

The ACL, forcing religious values on a secular society since 1995

Why aren’t we seeing money being injected into the secular sector? Is our government beholden to the Australian Christian Lobby? Are members of the religious right faction of the Labor Caucus holding a gun to Gillard’s head and making her do this?

Or, is this just another poor policy decision from a government who has/ will be known for it’s spectacularly poor policies?

– Matt. @mjwill90

Oh, and visit “Say No to Chaplains” at for more information about the movement to fight the National School Chaplaincy Program.



“Don’t you worry about that!” – Abbott on his #Fudget

In Politics: Economy,Politics: Genral on May 13, 2011 by mjwill91

It seems as if Tony Abbott is taking the saying “everything old is new again” very seriously. So much so that during his “budget reply speech” he began channelling the ghost of Sir Joh Bjelke Petersen, specifically Joh’s notorious saying, “Don’t you worry about that!”

The notorious Fuhrer of Queensland- Sir Joh.

Stop me if i’m wrong, but a budget reply speech is meant to be a speech which is in reply to the budget, is it not? It’s meant to outline the issues that as an Opposition Party (and apparently the alternative government) have with the Government’s budget- and in doing so it’s meant to show how you’d better manage the country. Perhaps it’s a little naive of me to think that a budget reply speech should actually be a fiscally loaded reply to the budget and not an election campaign speech.

Ok, so- Abbott’s speech outline a lot. It outlined everything he intends to do if he can “pry” the job of Prime Minister from Julia Gillard’s fingers- something becoming increasingly unlikely (at least before the 2013 election). So, how about we go through his speech, promise by promise and evaluate them, and see if there is anything in their about how he intends to fund them, shall we?

We’ll have a standing Green Army, 15 000 strong. 

  • ok, how are we going to afford a standing, environmental army of 15 000 people?

“Don’t you worry about that!”

Literally one of the first returned results when searching for Abbott+Green+Army

We’ll increase the education tax rebate for all families to $500 a year for primary and $100 a year for secondary”

  • ok, how are we going to afford a rebate increase when we’re currently in deficit? Are we going to go further into debt? Isn’t that something you LibNats abhor?

“Don’t you worry about that!”

The parents and carers of children with disabilities have the toughest job in the country. That’s why we’ll make $20 000 a year available to help the 6000 school children with the most serious disabilities. 

  • do you know what, this is a good thing. A really good thing…. that’s also really expensive. How are we meant to afford it?

“Don’t you worry about that!”

The Coalition would pay a $6000 relocation allowance to young, unemployed people who move to a regional area for a job, and who agree not to return to welfare for six months. 

  • i’m all for reducing youth unemployment, but i don’t see how a system like this wouldn’t be rorted- let alone how we’d pay for it…

“Don’t you worry about that!”

We’ll try to shake the cult of youth in hiring by giving employers up to $3250 for taking someone over 50 off welfare and back to work

  • another positive-ish measure, with absolutely not figures or costing behind it.

“Don’t you worry about that!” 

So, lots of pretty pictures and nice ideas- great for any sort of normal speech, but for a budget reply? I think not. If that was a budget reply, i’ll eat my hat. No. I’ll go a step further and have my own budget reply, one that has the same legitimacy (or in this case illegitimacy) as Abbott’s #fudget.

Matt’s Budget 2011/12

-I’m going to fix health care by putting more money into hospitals. I think I might input $200b a year over 5 years into the health system- also, i’ll personally cure cancer.

-I’ll fix our education system by injecting $400b into the education system. Every student will get three laptops, one for each hand and one for their face.

  • There will be no taxes. Ever.
  • Also I’ll fix the climate, by planting trees, and by crossbreeding narwhals and horses to make unicorns.
  • A national broadband network, free internet for everyone- speeds of 100Tb/ps download, half upload.

There you go. My “budget reply”. It’s got about the same credibility as Abbott’s reply last night. If anyone questions me on how i’ll afford it, i’ve got just the thing to say….

“Don’t you worry about that!” 

Of all the unicorn pictures out there, this one had the most Neil Patrick Harris

  • Matt. @mjwill90

Oh, also. Follow: @LyndsayFarlow – the ingenious creator of #InTheHistoryOfAustralianPoliticsAnotherOppositionLeaderGoingOffTheRailsOverGovtBudgetIsNothingnew – which basically says everything in less than 140 characters what this whole post attempted to do in 700.


Budget ’11 or: How I Learned That Our Government Completely Disregards University Students

In Politics: Economy,Politics: Genral,Politics: Tertiary Students on May 10, 2011 by mjwill91

Ok, I understand that the ’11 Federal Budget was a “Budget of difficult choices” et al, blah blah- but really, how many times are university students going to be completely ignored by the government?

Perhaps it’s because our current stock of politicians enjoyed the “free university” (relatively) of the 70s and 80s, perhaps it’s because “working families” are a vulnerable species doomed to die out if the government doesn’t constantly chuck money their way… or perhaps it’s totally in my head- that I only think we’re being ignored/hard done by because i’m a “greedy Gen-Y’er, too comfortable with getting my own way ect. ect.”

This is literally the first image returned when I searched for "Gen Y" ... on a related note: fuck you Gen X illustrator, we'd never use Friendster, you out of touch HACK!

When it comes down to it, university students are the FUTURE of this country. We become doctors, lawyers… business executives– you get the idea. So. We pay all this money (or, to be more accurate- we borrow all this money, on the proviso that we pay it back once we earn more than $50k annually), spend hours and hours studying and writing essays, juggle that with usually multiple jobs, graduate, get a high earning job (eventually) and then pay the highest amount of tax- while contributing the most to society. It seems like we give, give, give of ourselves, receive nothing in return from the government- before having the government reach into our pockets and take, take, take because we’re all of a sudden earning the sort of money that “qualifies” you for the top tax bracket.

Universities are our country's "Future Factories" - providing the nation with the people who will eventually take over the running of it, something that seems to have been forgotten...

Now some of you may argue that programs like AuStudy and AbStudy are the government’s way of giving money to university students, and while technically you’d be right, the criteria to get access to them ensures that all but the most dirt poor (sorry) are unable to receive even a single dollar in support.

For example. My parents earn around $300k collectively a year, but they haven’t spent a single dollar on sending me to university because “that’s my responsibility” – fine, I can live with that. HOWEVER- if I were to attempt to apply for AuStudy, my claim would be immediately rejected because of the wealth of my parents, and the fact I still qualify as a dependent. AuStudy is therefore flawed. It runs on the assumption that “Rich/Well Off/ Middle Class parents are the sort of parents that would be helping pay son’s/daughter’s incurred costs associated with tertiary study” – a flawed assumption to say the least.

The government currently has (or recently had) in place a rebate scheme for parents, to cover up to a certain amount (i’m pretty sure $1500) the cost of purchasing a laptop computer for their Primary School or High School child…. Ok. I can understand why a High School child needs a laptop (I did in High School), but for the life of me I can’t understand why Primary School children qualify for a laptop rebate, but university (and even TAFE) students don’t. It’s the same with text books (which are covered if you’re a high school student, but not if you’re a university/TAFE student).

Also: Mortar Board Hats are expensive- especially if you intend to graduate more than once...

In actuality, the ’11 Budget actually “took” from the university sector, with the abolition of the 20% discount on paying your HECS fee upfront. A minor gripe, seeing as the people who can usually afford to do that come from money/ are receiving a fair bit of support from their parents, but still- a step BACKWARDS in respects to how the university sector should be treated.

In reality, the government doesn’t treat the university student demographic with the respect it deserves and doesn’t offer it the help that it needs for the sole reason that the demographic is temporary, it’s population- fluid. On average people attend university for 3/4 years, before going off, getting a “real job”, settling down and becoming a member of the coveted “working family” demographic- at which time any of the gripes they had as a struggling, ignored university student fall by the wayside.

… It’s still not an excuse to “punish” those who ultimately fill society’s most important roles and are effectively the future of this country.

– Matt. @mjwill90