There’s food for thought on Jim Belshaw’s blog in two recent posts. I think it is fair to say these posts transcend party politics, as they refer to a managerial style that cuts across the party divisions; it is a style I am only too familiar with from my experiences in the NSW Department of Education in the last ten to fifteen years. Whether Jim is entirely on the mark or being just a little bit nostalgic I will leave you to judge, but it is fair to say he writes from considerable experience.
The posts are:
- Mr Rudd and a dreadful sense of deja vu
- Mr Rudd and a dreadful sense of deja vu – Managerialism and systemic failure
Wombat’s Waffles is back on the air. Davo has obviously had quite a time of it in the last twelve months, but the recent posts show that the steps he has taken seem to be paying off:
After many months, perhaps years, of intermittent and sparse rainfall – the weather Pixies have blessed this area with a gentle, soaking patter of rainfall which began yesterday afternoon and has continued all night. I don’t, as yet, frequent the pubs around here so don’t know much about the local “gossip”, but do know that some of the farmers in the area began “dry seeding” last week, in anticipation. One can only hope that “follow up” rains happen in the months to come, and not – yet again – disappear and deliver that cruel blow to dry-land grain farmers of watching the half-grown harvest wither and die into the shrivelled husks of despair.
And it is nice to see a PM making at least a pretence of long-term vision for the nation instead of focusing solely on personal short-term survival. After a decade of Howard and a couple of years of Iemma, this is … distinctive, to say the least.
2. Becoming a republic, abolishing the third level of government (most likely the middle one, goodbye states) and enshrining a bill of rights are all admirable goals, and will probably all eventually happen, even in Australia. I’m just not sure the impetus for all these reforms will arise from a talkfest. If anything, it kinda gives neocons further ammo with which to argue that such concerns are the terrain of the Deadly Elite (‘only Rudd-loving lefty summit gabbers support elitist ideas like a bill of rights’ etc).
Such reforms must germinate at the grass-roots level, and then be adopted and driven by both a federal government and PM showing true leadership and enthusiasm, ideally with bipartisan support. Convincing Victorians that in a two-tier federation, they’ll be for all intents and purposes Tasmanian, will be no easy task – or indeed, convincing all non-Queenslanders that they’ll be Queenslanders (shudder). Doing away with a monarchical constitution that has generally served the country well for over a hundred years won’t happen just because a bunch of luvvies say at a summit that it’s a nice thing to do. All these reforms will require overwhelming ‘yes’ votes at referenda to have any mandate. I’m not sure the Summit much assisted this long-term goal…
Finally, and this is not actually “another blog”, do check ABC 1’s Foreign Correspondent last night. There are links there to a number of Chinese blogs:
There are an estimated 60 million bloggers in China and 230 million Chinese internet users, making it the fastest growing market in the world.
Internationally people assume the internet is an open and uncontrollable phenomenon, but in China popular western web sites like Wikipedia, Flikr and YouTube are all restricted.
China has the most sophisticated censorship and internet surveillance of any country in the world. Human rights groups say that about 30 journalists and 50 internet users are known to be behind bars. The US based Committee to Protect Journalists has branded China “the world’s leading jailer of journalists.” But some Chinese bloggers have learnt to work within the system and push its boundaries…
Freedom of Expression in China
The International PEN Poem Relay is focussed around the poem “June” by the imprisoned poet and journalist Shi Tao and seeks to raise awareness about freedom of expression in China in a uniquely PEN way – through poetry and translation. PEN Centres around the world have translated and recorded “June” in more than 60 languages and, using the internet as its main instrument, the poem will virtually “travel” around the world, from centre to centre, language to language, adding new translations as it goes and ending in Beijing for the 2008 Olympics.
Pen Poem Relay English translation of “June” by Chip Rolley
Takes a while, that PEN site. Go there, but here is the poem referred to:
by Shi Tao
My whole life
Will never get past “June”
June, when my heart died
When my poetry died
When my lover
Died in romance’s pool of blood
June, the scorching sun burns open my skin
Revealing the true nature of my wound
June, the fish swims out of the blood-red sea
Toward another place to hibernate
June, the earth shifts, the rivers fall silent
Piled up letters unable to be delivered to the dead
Translated to English from Chinese by Chip Rolley.