Bookmarked Morrison has sailed into treacherous waters that sunk the dreams of those before him (

Usually it’s brand new prime ministers still high on the dopamine surge of winning an election whose thoughts stray to reforming the Federation. But Morrison has a different sort of political capital, writes Annabel Crabb.

With Scott Morrison’s decision to retain the National Cabinet in place of COAG, Annabel Crabb takes a look at the history of federalism in Australia beginning with the decision with the decision during World War II to consolidate income tax in the Commonwealth’s coffers. She talks about the continual negotiations that occur and the temptations to link this to certain conditions.

The temptation for federal governments to attach ideologically-driven conditions to these payments is nearly irresistible, as is the temptation to dive into what are ordinarily state government responsibilities.

This is something that has a significant impact on education.

Bookmarked Why must Indigenous claims for justice always be cast as an attack on the state? (

Why would young Indigenous people entrust their futures to another generation of politicians — black or white — who keep telling them to wait, asks Stan Grant.

Stan Grant discusses the long history of waiting to be recognised in the Australian constitution. The crisis is therefore a critical test for democracy. As Grant explains:

We walk the same fault lines here. Why would young Indigenous people entrust their futures to another generation of politicians — black or white — who keep telling them to wait?

Replied to Morrison’s 332-word answer to a reasonable question ended with a triple-somersault-with-pike (

As though the news cycle wasn’t bad enough, that brief moment when our leaders seemed to make decisions in the broad public interest is over, writes Laura Tingle.

So James Purtill, I guess the discussion of MMT and free university is now off the table.
Bookmarked John Oliver: US policing is ‘a structure built on systemic racism’ (the Guardian)

The Last Week Tonight host traces the history of America’s police culture, one ‘deeply entwined’ with white supremacy, and what’s obstructing change

John Oliver responds wave of protests sweeping America with a deep dive into policing in the USA. He explains that too often black communities are treated disproportionately.

“For any viewers sitting at home shocked by the scenes of police brutality, I get it – I’m white, too,” said Oliver. “But it’s worth remembering: that’s the tip of a very large iceberg. It didn’t start this week, or with this president, and it always disproportionately falls on black communities.”

This history can be traced from capturing escaped slaves to the policy of stop and frisk. Associated with this, police have become heavily armed.

On top of that, America has armed police “to the fucking teeth”, a subject Oliver and his team investigated six years ago. This has promoted a sub-industry of training seminars to reinforce the idea of the police at war, such as the “killology” training, a haunting clip of which showed an officer telling fellow cops to think of themselves as “predators”. “You know, the problem with telling someone that they’re a predator is that it primes them to see the rest of the world as potential prey,” Oliver said. “And of course cops who went through this training would end up on edge. You wouldn’t train a barber by saying, ‘here are your scissors, snip like this, and oh yeah, this is how you puncture the carotid artery.’”

Often this spending is in place of other social and health services. This is something that Douglas Rushkoff touches on.

Civil servants can only exist in a civil society. And a civil society requires servants trained in civility.

Oliver explains that at the heart of all this is a culture of systemic racism.

“If you’re not directly impacted by it,” Oliver concluded, “it is tempting to look for a reason to feel better about the world, to look at pictures of cops kneeling and think oh, well, we just need more of that! But we need so much more than that. Because ours is a firmly entrenched system in which the roots of white supremacy run deep. And it is critical that we all grab a fucking shovel.”

Elsewhere on the web, Stephen Ceasar reports on the military weapons being used to protect schools.

The Los Angeles School Police Department, which serves the nation’s second-largest school system, will return three grenade launchers but intends to keep 61 rifles and a Mine Resistant Ambush Protected armored vehicle it received through the program.

Cory Doctorow rightly calls out the absurdity of this.

If you think that “facilitating education” involves an AR-15, you should not be allowed within 10 miles of any educational institution, for the rest of your life.

Mariame Kaba argues that reform is not enough and what ‘defund the police’ actually means.

We should redirect the billions that now go to police departments toward providing health care, housing, education and good jobs. If we did this, there would be less need for the police in the first place.

We can build other ways of responding to harms in our society. Trained “community care workers” could do mental-health checks if someone needs help. Towns could use restorative-justice models instead of throwing people in prison.

Speaking from a local perspective, Marcia Langton used her Queen’s Birthday honour to call for urgent action. Responding to the fact that since the royal commission’s final report in 1991 432 Aboriginal people have died in prison, and the Indigenous incarceration rate is double what it was 30 years ago.

I would have thought it’s pretty straightforward. Do not kill Aborigines.

Bookmarked a post

I started the day reading Peter Oborne’s piece on whether China will replace Islam as the West’s new enemy — and then got sucked into the rabbit-hole of whether we are sliding into a new Cold War, with China playing the role that the Soviet Union played in the old days. This is all about geopolitics, of course, about which I know little. But if you write about digital technology, as I do, this emerging Cold War is a perennial puzzle that pops up everywhere.

John Naughton looks at China and explores the idea that we are entering a new Cold War. Alternatively, Michael Schuman suggests that the answer is to focus on what China is not so good at:

The economic challenges facing China have possible implications for U.S. policy. Rather than worrying so much about what Beijing is up to, Washington might be better off focusing on the home front and enhancing American advantages over China, by, for instance, strengthening the education system and investing in research and development.

Bookmarked Tom Morello, Serj Tankian Address Disillusioned Fans Who’ve Just Learned Their Music Is Political (Stereogum)

Right-wing bros will always love Rage Against The Machine, despite the fact that they are a very, very left-wing band. For example, as The Detroit Metro Times reports, a Michigan man just went viral on Twitter for getting dunked on repeatedly after telling Rage guitarist Tom Morello to stay out of politics. “I use to be a fan until your political opinions come out,” Scott Castaneda wrote in a since-deleted tweet. “Music is my sanctuary and the last thing I want to hear is political bs when i’m listening to music. As far as i’m concerned you and Pink are completely done. Keep running your mouth and ruining your fan base.” “Scott!! What music of mine were you a fan of that DIDN’T contain ‘political BS’? I need to know so I can delete it from the catalog,” Morello jokingly responded. Maybe Scott, like #1 Rage Against The Machine fan Paul Ryan, just isn’t a lyrics guy? Or maybe he was thinking of, uh, Florence + The Machine? Scott!! What music of mine were you a fan of that DIDN’T

There were some funny responses to the complaint of a fan about the political nature of Rage Against the Machine’s music. However, Tom Morello’s was surely the best:

Liked We don’t need a federal education minister: Re-imagining our federation (The Age)

Beyond a basic co-ordinating role to set national academic standards, it is unnecessary and wasteful for the national government to maintain a large Education Department simply to monitor the states’ management of schools. Indeed, all education (schools and universities) and training could be delegated to the states. Canada does not have a national minister for education – it is totally a provincial responsibility.

Liked Over and over by an author (

I remember hearing a story once when I was a kid about a guy who crashed his car out on a remote country road somewhere. He got pinned in place somehow, unable to move or call for help; his car’s tape deck was the kind that would auto-flip to the other side of the tape, play through to the end, then flip back over and do it all over again, in an endless loop. The guy allegedly spent like seven hours pinned in his still-running car, listening to Wham! the entire time, over and over and over again, with no way to turn it off. That’s what the internet feels like now, only it’s not George Michael, it’s Donald J. Trump and the Hydroxychloroquine Cure, and it’s enough to make anyone quit blogging.

Geoff Manaugh (via Warren Ellis)

Replied to Daniel Andrews: Victoria’s dictator, or just a wildly popular, unstoppable political force? | Gay Alcorn (the Guardian)

Victoria’s premier has taken a tougher line on the coronavirus lockdown than anyone, but his state appears to have embraced it

I really like Daniel Andrews’ response the acusation of being a dictator:

Asked about it, Andrews said: “I don’t comment on people who are fundamentally irrelevant to the work that I do.”

Liked How apocalyptic is now? – UnHerd (UnHerd)

Actually history is repeatedly punctuated by discontinuities in which what was gained is irrecoverably lost. Whether because of war or revolution, famine or epidemic — or a deadly combination, as in the Russian Civil War — the sudden death of ways of life is a regular occurrence. Certainly there are periods of incremental improvement, but they rarely last longer than two or three generations. Progress occurs in interludes when history is idling.

Bookmarked Under Cover of Mass Death, Andrew Cuomo Calls in the Billionaires to Build a High-Tech Dystopia (The Intercept)

Tech provides us with powerful tools, but not every solution is technological. And the trouble with outsourcing key decisions about how to “reimagine” our states and cities to men like Bill Gates and Eric Schmidt is that they have spent their lives demonstrating the belief that there is no problem that technology cannot fix.

For them, and many others in Silicon Valley, the pandemic is a golden opportunity to receive not just the gratitude, but the deference and power that they feel has been unjustly denied. And Andrew Cuomo, by putting the former Google chair in charge of the body that will shape the state’s reopening, appears to have just given him something close to free reign.

Naomi Klein discusses Andrew Cuomo’s invitation for a ‘screen new deal’ to rescue New York from the current ordeal. With the support of Eric Schmidt and Bill Gates, Cuomo hopes to herald a digital future.

It has taken some time to gel, but something resembling a coherent Pandemic Shock Doctrine is beginning to emerge. Call it the “Screen New Deal.” Far more high-tech than anything we have seen during previous disasters, the future that is being rushed into being as the bodies still pile up treats our past weeks of physical isolation not as a painful necessity to save lives, but as a living laboratory for a permanent — and highly profitable — no-touch future.

For Klein, such a future is ripe for abuse and exploitation.

This is a future in which, for the privileged, almost everything is home delivered, either virtually via streaming and cloud technology, or physically via driverless vehicle or drone, then screen “shared” on a mediated platform. It’s a future that employs far fewer teachers, doctors, and drivers. It accepts no cash or credit cards (under guise of virus control) and has skeletal mass transit and far less live art. It’s a future that claims to be run on “artificial intelligence” but is actually held together by tens of millions of anonymous workers tucked away in warehouses, data centers, content moderation mills, electronic sweatshops, lithium mines, industrial farms, meat-processing plants, and prisons, where they are left unprotected from disease and hyperexploitation. It’s a future in which our every move, our every word, our every relationship is trackable, traceable, and data-mineable by unprecedented collaborations between government and tech giants.

Much of this push has been built on the back of preexisiting lobbying, that has pivoted based on the current climate.

Schmidt has put these preexisting demands — for massive public expenditures on high-tech research and infrastructure, for a slew of “public-private partnerships” in AI, and for the loosening of myriad privacy and safety protections — through an aggressive rebranding exercise. Now all of these measures (and more) are being sold to the public as our only possible hope of protecting ourselves from a novel virus that will be with us for years to come.

Klein’s concern is that in desperate times, companies often see an opportunity to step uo and fill a gap.

In the midst of the carnage of this ongoing pandemic, and the fear and uncertainty about the future it has brought, these companies clearly see their moment to sweep out all that democratic engagement. To have the same kind of power as their Chinese competitors, who have the luxury of functioning without being hampered by intrusions of either labor or civil rights.

All of this is moving very fast. The Australian government has contracted with Amazon to store the data for its controversial coronavirus tracking app. The Canadian government has contracted with Amazon to deliver medical equipment, raising questions about why it bypassed the public postal service. And in just a few short days in early May, Alphabet has spun up a new Sidewalk Labs initiative to remake urban infrastructure with $400 million in seed capital. Josh Marcuse, executive director of the Defense Innovation Board that Schmidt chairs, announced that he was leaving that job to work full-time at Google as head of strategy and innovation for global public sector, meaning that he will be helping Google to cash in on some of the many opportunities he and Schmidt have been busily creating with their lobbying.

The issue with this is that such ‘clear’ decisions are not always clear.

While there is no doubt that the ability to teleconference has been a lifeline in this period of lockdown, there are serious debates to be had about whether our more lasting protections are distinctly more human. Take education. Schmidt is right that overcrowded classrooms present a health risk, at least until we have a vaccine. So how about hiring double the number of teachers and cutting class size in half? How about making sure that every school has a nurse?

The question really comes down to human vs technology.

We face real and hard choices between investing in humans and investing in technology. Because the brutal truth is that, as it stands, we are very unlikely to do both.

This is an interesting read in regards to Douglas Rushkoff’s work Team Human.

Bookmarked The Countries Taking Advantage of Antarctica During the Pandemic (The Atlantic)

While the West has scaled back operations in the Antarctic, Russia and China have pushed ahead.

Leah Feiger and Mara Wilson discuss the impact of coronavirus and the economic downturn on the future of Antarctica.
Bookmarked Judith Butler on the Violence of Neglect Amid a Health Crisis (The Nation)

A conversation with the theorist about her new book, The Force of Nonviolence, and the need for global solidarity in the pandemic world

Francis Wade speaks with Judith Butler about her new book The Force of Nonviolence. They touch on the current response to the coronavirus and discussions about herd immunity.

As the pandemic became widely recognized, some policy-makers seeking to reopen the markets and recover productivity sought recourse to the idea of herd immunity, which presumes that those who are strong enough to endure the virus will develop immunity and they will come to constitute over time a strong population able to work. One can see how the herd immunity thesis works quite well with social Darwinism, the idea that societies tend to evolve in which the most fit survive and the least fit do not. Under conditions of pandemic, it is, of course, black and brown minorities who count as vulnerable or not destined to survive.

Bookmarked What lessons will we learn from the virus? (The Monthly)

Having seen our decommissioned manufacturing industry struggling to produce face shields and masks for health workers – what would have taken them a day four years ago took one car company more than a fortnight – and the inadequacy of global supply chains in a crisis, might both sides of politics rethink their shared hostility to anything resembling protected industry? Will public investment in science become respectable again? Will science itself become respectable? Having seen the power of Nature, and recognised that bellicosity, denial and posturing are futile defences against it, and for the time being allowed that scientific knowledge is humanity’s best hope, will we take the lesson to climate change as well?

Don Watson stops to look back at the current crisis so far and wonders what lessons might be learnt. He reflects upon the the hopeless optimism presented by the worlds leaders and the strife that has gotten us into.

Pity our poor leaders confronted with the new reality. In the first weeks they did what comes naturally: they gave us optimism. The Chinese began by pretending it wasn’t there and shooting the messengers. The Brazilians said it was a “fantasy”. The Italians said, “Go to the piazza.” The Iranians said, “Go to Qom.” The Australians said, “Go to the football.” President Trump said go wherever you like, it’s a Democratic “hoax”, it will vanish “like a miracle”, it’s nothing to worry about, we have it under control, “we cannot let the cure be worse than the problem itself” etc. Optimism has killed thousands.

This optimism has led to discussions about war. However, Watson argues that if this were a ‘war’ then we would have been more prepared.

This is not a war. If pandemics bore any relationship to war, nations would prepare for them. War and preparations for it are incessant and obscenely expensive state activities and a lucrative trade for immense corporations. But this pandemic, though long predicted by scientists (and Bill Gates, among others), and portended by HIV/AIDS, Hendra, SARS, MERS and Ebola, arrived as if all of a sudden by spaceship from another universe.

Watson closes with a message of hope that maybe some good can come out of this in regards to the future of industry and how we may respond to the challenges of global warming.


Liked Morrison’s Gaslighting of the Teaching Profession. by Carolyn

On April 10th, Julio Vincent Gambuto published an article saying that advertisers and politicians are about to bombard us with ways we can return to ‘normal.’ They will do this by using our hopes and fears against us in ways that make us doubt ourselves and, against our better judgement, trust them.

The aim will be to convince you that you need to return to a ‘normal’ that is beneficial to them. If you question them, if you raise concerns about the old ‘normal,’ they will find ways of making you doubt yourself. Doubt your judgement, doubt your memory, doubt your capacity for critical thinking.

Bookmarked There will be no ‘back to normal’ (nesta)

This recession prompted by the pandemic will very likely be much worse than the financial crisis, but it will not be a ‘normal’ recession. Many countries are entering recession in the worst possible shape, with traditional levers already exhausted. Mass unemployment is possible. Fiscal and monetary policy solutions previously considered radical enter the mainstream political and public discussion. Firms that survive will change their focus and business practices, including major supply chain reorganisation, and a shift from streamlined efficiency towards resilience.

The collection of ideas collated by Nesta about how the world may change is an interesting read, alongside Bryan Alexander’s futures thinking.
Scott Morrison urges teachers to open schools amid coronavirus so parents can put ‘food on the table’

Cameron Malcher responds to Morrison’s ‘plead’ for teachers to reopen. He highlights that schools as such have never shut, focusing on ‘heroes’ avoids on the government bodies who actually make the decisions.

The point is that is any Australian family who finds themselves in a position of having to choose between their employment and their child’s education is in that situation, in no small part, because of the specific approach to stimulus and economic support that the PM has chosen. (link)

Like with the wartime rhetoric, he appears to be shifting responsibility to a group in society with less power than himself (teachers) for any difficulty faced by Australians, despite the fact those difficulties could have been directly alleviated by the PM/govt.(link)

Also, I want to point out what an odd notion it is that families would have to choose between employment and education. First, as schools are open to students, no parent has to make that choice. Second, that choice would only arise if a child can’t go to school…(link)

For Malcher, this is not about ‘teachers’ but a message to the Victorian government.

The conflict between the Federal LNP govt. and the Victorian Labor govt. has been at the fore of the national COVID-19 response. Victoria, where term 1 ended earlier, closed schools early by bringing forward and extending schools holidays while strategies were developed

This Victorian action happened at a time when the PM was talking about keeping schools open. Though even the LNP Pemiere of NSW was, at the time, talking about implementing stricter measures that Fed govt. requirements – the tension between state and feds was evident. (link)

Jane Caro questions why educators need the guilt trip when schools are open and teachers are going above and beyond.

That’s a hell of a responsibility to be laying at your average teacher’s feet. And, as the elected leader of our country, is it really fair of him to hold teachers responsible for the economy? Is it reasonable to ask them to choose between their own health and that of their families and keeping the engine of commerce alive?

Gillian Light provides two responses to Morrison’s appeal to teachers. Firstly, that as a teacher it is not her decision about whether to return to school or not. Secondly, schools in Victoria have never actually closed

The most important reason I won’t tell you whether I think schools should be open or closed is because it doesn’t matter – it’s not my decision. I’m an employee of a state Education Department and I do what I’m told. I was told, at the end of Term 1, to prepare for the possibility of remote teaching. So I did. And continued to prepare during school holidays. At the end of the holidays, I was told to begin remotely teaching my students which I’m now doing to the best of my ability. I’ve worked harder in this last 2 weeks than I ever have before, something I didn’t actually think possible. I was also asked if I was willing and able to go on a roster to supervise children of those who are unable to work from home (while continuing to remotely teach the rest) which I have also done and continue to do.

Some suggest that this is all a form of gaslighting, while others like Paul Kelly speaking on the Coronacast podcast suggest that schools are more controllable:

Norman Swan: So Keli asks, on schools, why are we reopening schools when social distance is so important? And I suppose the add-on to Kelly’s question I’d ask is, well, how do you socially distance when you’ve got 14-year-olds in the playground?

Paul Kelly: Very difficult. And I understand that. In fact two of my sisters are teachers, one of them currently working as the schools come back in New South Wales. So of course these things are challenging, and I think the point is you can do is best you can in terms of social distancing. There is certainly a lot you can do about hygiene around the school.

Tegan Taylor: Why can kids go to school but they are not allowed to play on public playgrounds?

Paul Kelly: Well, that’s a challenge, some of these things I can certainly see how it is difficult to maintain those two conflicting pieces of advice. I’d say this though, at least in schools we do know who is on the school playground and there is some ability within the school environment to increase those hygiene messages and cleaning, for example. Public playgrounds are a bit less of a controlled environment, more open to others coming in, so I think that’s part of it. But look, I think as we go forward, we’ve been so successful in dampening down the curve, flattening the curve and so few cases that in the next month we will be seeing the relaxation of many of those things that have been introduced.

Above all else, Jordan Baker highlights the stress that the federal – state divide in education has created throughout this crisis.

For Piccoli, COVID-19 has provided yet another argument for Australia following the lead of Canada, and dumping the federal education ministry altogether – a proposal also outlined by former Coalition opposition leader John Hewson last week. “In Canada, the provinces run their own systems, and to me that kind of competitive federalism is most effective,” says Piccoli. “Each jurisdiction learns off the other ones, from their successes and failures.

“When you try to standardise things, in education or anywhere else, I don’t think it works as well. NSW had a basic skills test, and the other states wanted to do the same thing, so they made it national [in the form of NAPLAN]. But once it’s national, you can’t change it. National bodies should set a strategy, and state regulators should be responsible for the implementation of that strategy.”