Bleats

Tony Abbott Really Wants You To Realise He Was, In Fact, A Great PM

How did we miss it at the time?

Back in May, Tony Abbott lost his seat of Warringah to Zali Steggal after holding it for 25 years. The country said goodbye to our patron saint of eating onions like a weirdo, but he wasn’t officially farewelled from the Liberal Party until last night. 

What a time to be alive

About 1000 people piled into a dinner to honour Abbott and his career, including people like John Howard, Alan Jones, Peter Dutton, and Gladys Berejiklian.

Abbott spoke last for the evening, telling the evening “I used to think that the Abbott government was a remarkably underappreciated one.”

“The great thing tonight is that finally I think it might be seen for what it really was — a good-faith effort to help our country to be the very best it could be.”

Really? The very best?

The best it could be, huh? Let’s take a walk down memory lane.

Remember when Abbott told Alan Jones (a dude who has used the n-word on air) all about how much he hated wind farms? The actual quote was “I do take your point about the potential health impact of these things. When I’ve been up close to these wind farms not only are they visually awful but they make a lot of noise.

Or the seemingly thousands of times he decided to use his position as Prime Minister to bang on about how much he was against same sex marriage. A few years later, during the marriage equality survey (ugh) he told everyone that if you hated political correctness to vote no. Even his own daughter called him out on that one and went on to be a part of an ad for the yes campaign.

Creepy winking: fine.
People who love each other getting married: not fine.

Or the time his government spent $4 million creating an anti-asylum seeker movie to show overseas, because he was hell bent on stopping the boats. But if a boat did manage to get through, they’d be sent to Nauru – a place Tony reckons is a “Very, Very Pleasant Island”.

There are so many more gaffes and straight up awful quotes that came out of the years that Tony Abbott was Prime Minister, and it genuinely boggles my mind that the way he’s decided to describe the time is “remarkably underappreciated”.

As for Scott Morrison? Well, Abbott reckons he saved the party “from being judged by history an embarrassing failure.” I’ll check in with you again in a few years about that one.

I'd Be Happier About Queensland Banning Plastic If They Weren't Building Adani

It sucks.

The war on plastics has ramped up over the last few years to the point where we’re now seeing bans on single use plastics become more and more common. Queensland has always copped a lot of jokes about being the a state that has to catch up to the rest of the country, but they’re very much on the forefront of this particular movement, and are looking to ban single use plastics state wide as early as next year. 

Queensland banned plastic shopping bags from stores in July 2018, but these new laws are looking to target plastic straws, plastic cutlery, and plastic plates. Later on they might even cover disposable coffee cups and those big, reusable plastic shopping bags. 

No more of this

The conversation about banning plastic straws has been particularly heated, with lots of people relying on plastic straws to eat, drink, and take medications. Before the Queensland government go ahead with the legislation, they’ve made a point of saying that they’re going to consult with a number of community groups, including people with disabilities. They’ll also work in exemptions to the law for people who need to use plastic straws. 

The original movement to ban the straws outright seemed to have forgotten that disabled people exist, so it’s good to see that that particular lesson has been learned. 

I haven’t been able to forget while reading these reports that Queensland is also the state that the Adani coal mine is in the process of being approved in. 

The mine is planning to take 12.5 billion litres of water from Queensland – a state in drought – but have somehow managed to avoid having to provide a full environmental impact statement. It means we don’t know the full extent of the damage the mine could create, but cutting a giant coal mine into the ground is never going to do good things. 

Banning single use plastics is a great move if the right considerations are taken, but it’s also not going to balance out a new coal mine by any stretch of the imagination. Individual action is important, but if the Queensland government wants to pretend that shifting all of the state’s environmental responsibility to the people will solve their problems, then they’re kidding themselves.

When Will Politicians Stop Treating School Teachers Like Babysitters?

Now polllies want them to police mobile phones.

The Western Australian Government has announced that they’re going to bring in a ban on all public school students using mobile phones during school hours. The new rule comes into effect next year. The idea is that it will reduce distractions in the classroom and thus make a much better learning environment for school kids. But did the politicians even talk to the teachers first?

Look, I get it. We all know technology is a distraction in the classroom. Remember when the federal Labor Government decided to give every high school kid a free laptop? I was in year 9 when we got ours, and all we did was take peace-and-pout selfies and play a pirated version of Plants Vs. Zombies. Yeah, I know, there was a reason the government didn’t keep giving kids those computers.

In saying that, do you know what I did when I was bored at school before being given a laptop? Stare at the ceiling and make shapes out of the suspicious stains above our heads. Phones are just something more fun to be distracted by, not the reason kids are distracted.

But all this misses what might be the most important question: why does the government think that this, of all things, is what they should be wasting their time one?

Name me a single school that currently allows kids to scroll through social media on their phones during class time. There aren’t any. Phones have been banned from classrooms since kids started bringing their mum’s old Nokia brick to school and tried to play Snake subtly under the desk. Does the Western Australian Government really think that a stern word from the Premier is what’s going to get students to put away their phone?

It feels like we’re treating teachers as if they’re babysitters, just there to make sure that kids get off their phones, don’t burn the house down, and get to bed on time. The reality obviously couldn’t be further from the truth, and time spent enforcing rules that the government has handed down is time that could be spent actually teaching.

Pat Byrne is the president of the State School Teachers’ Union of WA. She’s got no time for this latest addition to the rule book.

“At a time when teachers are already warning that red tape and administrative demands are taking them away from their core role, the union is concerned this initiative will be yet another impost on teaching time and school budgets as schools devise ways of collection and secure storage of phones during the day.

“There is also a concern from principals and teachers that a blanket ban will be a potential point of conflict between school staff and parents, as well as staff and students.”

Pat Byrne

Teachers work their butts off. People love to talk about how easy they must have it, just hanging out with kids and not having to work on school holidays. If that was the case, then we wouldn’t have results like 40% of new teachers leaving the profession in the first five years, or up to 53% of people with an education degree working in a different field.

Teaching is hard enough, and the last thing teachers need is paternalistic micromanagement making their lives harder. Maybe offer them some support instead, and trust that they know when to take a phone off of a kid without the government telling them to.

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