You do not raise the prospects of a ‘class war’ by talking about inequality. You raise the prospects of class war by not talking about inequality.
Nations that dare to examine their flaws and blunt the sharp edges of extreme power and wealth are more stable than those that do not.
So it is with this in mind that I congratulate Treasurer Wayne Swan for actually discussing the problem of growing inequality and identifying the abuse of wealth and the power it brings.
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It’s not long ago that when people talked about the Federal Budget, the discussion was about more than hand-outs or who got what. It was about what the Budget meant for the nation, what it was going to leave for future generations, and how it was going to make Australia a better society.
This year’s budget hasn’t pleased everybody – Budgets never do. Some might have found it a bit underwhelming, but given the Government’s priority of returning the budget to surplus, it was not going to have the money for major projects.
What has surprised me is the nature of the debate in the media – the seeming obsession with minor changes to eligibility for family payments – and the lack of interest in how the budget deals with the challenge of getting people into work, improving the nation’s skills or fighting mental illness.
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If you haven’t heard the news, or the outrage, legendary British chat show host Sir Michael Parkinson yesterday became the first non-Australian to deliver the Australia Day address. Here’s his speech.
With due sheepishness, The Punch team admit we didn’t actually know there was such a thing as the Australia Day Address. But apparently it’s been a platform for interesting and prominent Australians for 14 years until clearly, there were no interesting or prominent Australians left. So we got Parky. Who, to be fair, is both an interesting and prominent Pom (oh, and he called himself a Pom in his speech, so don’t anyone complain about the choice of word.)
Parky didn’t exactly drop any bombshells. In post-speech interviews he did suggest we should sever ties with the monarchy when the queen hangs up her white gloves, but surely, the last thing anyone needs today is a debate on republic vs monarchy. There was, however, one interesting point he touched upon very briefly: our so-called classless society.
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Yet again, Mr Rudd has announced plans for his lame My School website in the name of lifting the standards of all Australian schools. And yet again, he’s missed the boat with his scheme to publicise next month’s National Assessment Program Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) tests. If he was really serious about improving the educational lot of all young people, he’d take the lead of Australia’s most prestigious learning institution: Geelong Grammar.
Doing its best in its quest to bridge the ever widening gap between the educational haves and have-nots, Grammar recently opened a $16 million ‘wellness’ facility - humbly described on the school’s website as “an exciting new direction in education, building confidence, optimism and success in young people”. Thank god. This sort of service couldn’t have come soon enough to some of the most advantaged elites in our community.
Students of Australia’s richest learning establishment finally have access to two indoor courts, a 25 metre heated pool, large gymnasium with a weights room, ergometers, aerobics and dance areas, teaching spaces, a café, health information areas with online resources, a nine-bed medical facility, and doctors’ consultation rooms.
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