Obfuscation over public interest
Thank you, Karen Middleton, for the next chapter in the history of Prime Minister Scott Morrison (“Fresh documents in Morrison’s sacking”, June 8-14). “The minutes of that meeting were provided under FOI, but mostly redacted…” This is yet another example of “freedom from information”, and the “secret operational matters” so beloved by this government, to whom the public interest is anathema.
– Elizabeth Chandler, Napoleon Reef, NSW
Shining a light on redaction
Great work, Karen. Most excellent indeed. And by the by, did you try reading the redacted bits by holding them up to the light? That’s what a character did in the film Hidden Figures.
– Christina Sobey, Albury, NSW
Jane Caro and Lyndsay Connors’ evaluation of the financial slew towards private education was complete (“False economies of Gonski 2.0”, June 8-14). Financing the well-off – could this be called private socialism? We need to bring an unspoken problem into the open. Generations of Australians have passed through an education system that wasn’t financed for remedial work. The illiteracy rate is high. Please google. Social disadvantage begins with what you don’t know. A headspace without novels, texts and newspapers. The life of a large proportion of Australians is filled with guesswork and confusion. Deciphering the counter lunch menu is tricky and, while waiting, check your numeracy on the pokies with gut-feeling maths. How does the lack of cross-referenced knowledge affect voting behaviour? These poor folk are influenced by fear more than inspiration. “The Labor Party is going to take your utes off you – there goes your weekend.” When education has failed and people fall for guff, democracy and societies are weakened.
– Warren Tindall, Bellingen, NSW
Time for accountability
Caro and Connors question which schools get needs-directed funding. Another question is, what is the money used for once allocated? It’s impossible to discover. In the field I know, support for English language learners has massively declined, new arrivals are often not directed to intensive on-arrival English centres because their “needs” money goes with them, and no specialist qualifications are required for the few still designated as English as an additional language teachers. School-based autonomy in the government, Catholic and private sectors means there are no requirements to direct these funds to the needs of students who attract this funding or to report on how it is spent. Disadvantaged kids are now the new honey pot. Until accountability is part of the system, needs-based funding will not boost the performance of disadvantaged students. But some school driveways have been spruced up.
– Helen Moore, vice-president, Australian Council of TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) Associations, ACT
Better return for investment
Regarding “False economies of Gonski 2.0”, could government investment in education be considered in the same way as investment in infrastructure? Would money be invested in a freeway and public transport in areas already adequately serviced or would it be invested in developing areas where the returns on investment will encourage development, create jobs and ultimately bring returns beneficial to the whole community?
– Barbara Setchell, Mansfield, Vic
Abolishing the pontifical secret
I refer to the last paragraph of Russell Marks’s article “Days of reckoning” (June 8-14), which states that “Pope Francis announced revolutionary Catholic law that would, at long last, require priests to report child sexual abuse and to participate in police investigations”. If only that were true. The Pope’s decree required priests to report abuse to the church, not to the police. It was widely expected that after the February summit, after criticisms by Cardinal Marx, Professor Linda Ghisoni and Archbishop Scicluna, the pontifical secret over child sexual abuse would be abolished and mandatory reporting under canon law decreed. It didn’t happen. However, two Catholic bishops’ conferences (in Australia and Italy) have issued guidelines that state there is a moral duty to report even if there are no applicable reporting laws. Maybe they were secretly given dispensations from the pontifical secret.
– Kieran Tapsell, Stanwell Park, NSW
Tropical pleasures in Berlin
Congratulations to Liam Pieper for his humbling experience so well recorded (“Tropical paradigm”, June 8-14). Perhaps not so much a dystopian future but more a utopian future for those who never will get to Bali.
– Sue Ingleton, Castlemaine, Vic
Mentored by Mungo
One of my pleasures in life has become Mungo’s The Cryptic. He taught me how to do these crosswords. When I first started trying I would grind my teeth at the difficulty. Mostly I would get a few answers out and the remaining crossword spaces would stay empty. I would wait impatiently for Saturday to roll around again with the answers. A year later and I rip through it, sometimes even finishing it before the weekend is over – unheard of when I started. I laugh at the clues and the answers, I gnash my teeth at the effort, but most of all I love this simple pleasure. Thank you, Mungo.
– Dinah Mitchell, Morton, NSW
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This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on Jun 15, 2019.
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