What a mixed up post this is!

I began with this from today’s Sydney Morning Herald.


That links to the story. I commend the main story and the many side stories and the wonderful photo gallery.

There we see how the various religions are distributed around Sydney. I do love the Anglican “ghetto” of Mosman.

Then I was side-tracked by Michelle Grattan’s excellent if depressing account of how politics has trumped what needs to be done about climate change.  There’ll be hell to pay somewhere along the line…

In July 2008, with Rudd in power, 67 per cent supported an emissions trading scheme for Australia, and 77 per cent said Australians should reduce emissions regardless of what other countries did.

Of course, the political atmosphere for pursuing a carbon price started to cool some time ago. That’s partly why Rudd made his (for him) disastrous decision to put his ETS plans on hold in April last year. Still, in May 2010, after Rudd had retreated but while he was still PM, 58 per cent backed an ETS; by October, with Julia Gillard as PM and after the election, the Nielsen poll showed 46 per cent in favour of a price on carbon (the question was asked that way after the August election).

So why the big change in community views – the ”tipping point” seems to have been after mid-2010 – and what does it mean for Gillard’s plans?

Several reasons account for the change. The international situation has transformed. Within Australia, bipartisanship has not just disappeared – winning the fight on carbon has become vital for the future of the PM and Opposition Leader alike. The plan has changed from a trading scheme to a ”tax” (to be replaced by a trading scheme years out). And the opponents of action are much more organised.

Then I found myself reading a great piece by someone I taught Year 11 English to in 1985, Sacha Molitorisz:

…Let’s stop all government funds flowing to private schools. They are, after all, private schools. Frankly, many don’t need the money. Sydney Grammar has $30,414 to devote to each student annually, whereas Canterbury Boys has $12,986. At Grammar, government funding accounts for 10 per cent of funds; at Canterbury, it’s nearly all of it.

The public school system is the system provided by the government for its people. Standards need to be raised to the highest level; patronage needs to be encouraged. Private schools, by contrast, present an alternative. An often worthwhile alternative, sure, but private educators must not look to the public purse for funds….

To be as good as it can be, public education requires better-trained, better-paid teachers. It requires lots of them, given the need for small class sizes. What’s more, it requires decent classrooms and facilities. It requires, in short, more money. Still, the success or failure of public education isn’t all up to politicians allocating more funds. Parents’ choices are crucial. Just as governments must commit to public schools, so too parents must commit to public schools.

There is no Superman. The only thing that comes close is children, with their otherworldly potential. For our kids to realise that potential, our public schools – and their teachers – need more money and more love. For now, my wife and I are planning to enroll our daughter in the local public high school. By the time she gets there, we’re hoping it will – thanks to an injection of cash and confidence – be even better than it is now.

Good one, Sascha!

I somehow – Google I suppose – then lucked on an older story by Sascha (with Kerry Coleman): Stay in Touch (2007). That includes this:


Against the current

The new film from John Pilger, The War on Democracy, is an idealistic doco in which the Aussie firebrand interviews the Venezuelan President, Hugo Chavez, among others, to expose the US’s attempts to manipulate politics in Latin America. But the genesis of the film, says Pilger, is a very Sydney story.

"The producer of the film, Wayne Young, and I met at Sydney [Boys’] High [School] in the 1950s," Pilger says. "Our shared interest was rowing, more specifically beating the private schools that made up the GPS [Great Public Schools], with the exception of High. Wayne and I rowed in the last two High eights to win the GPS Head of the River – Wayne in ’59 and me in ’57. That camaraderie taught us many things as we went our separate ways."

After Sydney High, Pilger moved to London to be a foreign correspondent. Meanwhile, Young helped devise the "It’s time!" media campaign that saw Gough Whitlam elected PM in 1972. When Whitlam was dismissed three years later, Young was so disillusioned he left Australia, returning in the ’80s to produce Crocodile Dundee.

"Along the way, we would meet," says Pilger. "And we planned, year after year, to make a film that would have a universal message about the empire that dared not speak its name. The War on Democracy is the result." Unfortunately, Mick Dundee doesn’t make a cameo to utter the line, "That’s not an empire!"

The film opened locally yesterday.


Now I am class of 1959, and it happens that in April 2009 I noted that fact and gathered some past entries thus:

  1. 50 years on – 1: a classmate’s story
  2. Memorabilia 16 – 50 years on
  3. Memorabilia 15: 1959 — or thereabouts
  4. Fifty years on – guess what, nothing is for ever!
  5. Now, what did I learn half a century ago?
  6. Sydney Boys High School 1955
  7. I wasn’t a prefect…
  8. Time and friendships 2 — the class of ‘59
  9. This may well be me….

I remember Wayne Young of course.


Bow, P W Shenstone; 2, I J Stewart; 3, I D Toll; 4, A J Skinner; 5, J A Campbell; 6, G F Cohen; 7, S R McGill; Stroke, W L Young; Cox, R G Caddy; Coach, A R Callaway, Esq


I hadn’t realised that he had gone on to do such interesting things!