“Explorer’s wife dies”

February 28, 2011 at 11:27 pm (PNG) (, , , )

Yerima Taylor dies

Peter Johnson CBE writes:

“Dave … may be of some interest; Jim Taylor’s widow, Meg’s mother!  I met
her a couple of times, but mostly was passed by her on the Highlands
Highway.  She drove a landrover at speed, and was perhaps the first lady
driver in the Highlands…….Pj “

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Changing attitudes to social mores

February 8, 2011 at 3:44 am (Papua New Guinea, PNG) (, , , , , , , , , , , )

I’m reminded of something that happened in Maprik in the East Sepik District in 1970.

David Hay, the Administrator of PNG, and his wife, Alison, were on a visit to outstations and sub-district administrative centres in the Territory prior to them leaving.

On arriving in Maprik they were to stay with the Assistant District Commissioner (ADC). On learning that the ADC was living with a woman without the benefit of nuptials, Alison refused to stay with them, and David Hay and his wife were housed elsewhere.

Let us project ourselves to present-day Australia. Julia Gillard, our PM, is living with a man without the benefit of nuptials, and apparently it’s not considered good form to even comment, poor Alison!

I do really think Julia would be doing herself and the Australian community a favour if she regulated her association with ‘the first bloke’, Tim Mathieson. You can’t tell me that her travelling overseas with Tim creates a good impression in conservative countries in Asia, Africa and South America to say nothing of Australasia and the Pacific Islands, where there are many ‘Alisons’ still alive.

So Julia, get your act together and make an honest man of Tim, if not for yourself at least for your country! 

Queen Victoria, it is said, would shut her eyes and think of England when making love to Albert. I’m certainly not asking Julia to emulate her in this, but only to share Queen Victoria’s abounding love of country.

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Is there anyone out there who remembers or knows of Stuart Brown?

February 7, 2011 at 12:26 am (Angoram, Papua New Guinea, Wewak) (, , , , , )

Rob Parer wrote:

February 1, 2011 at 1:08 pm

Hi David,

I wonder if anyone remembers Stuart (Stuey) Brown ( Ghekko ) who was croc shooting/recruiting in the late 50s and told me so many wonderful stories of Angoram. In 1960 he was under the “Dog Act ” for the third time and the law was, after three times the person had to be deported.

My Dad ( Bob ) was in Wewak going south for three months and the OIC Police in Wewak told Dad about Stuey and Dad ,said, “send him up to Aitape as no grog there.”

So when I met the Gibbs’ Norseman weekly flight, Stuart walked up to me with a letter from Dad saying: “Herewith one Stuart Brown he is an alcoholic. Give him a room in our home at St Anna Plantation, and find something for him to do and make sure that he does not touch grog for if he does, he must be deported”

I was only 23 and here was a guy who I found out later had an amazing war record – an Officer who had been Mentioned in Dispatches twice and had escaped from the Germans twice! So, as he was good with a compass, he did the boundaries of a new Cocoa Plantation which we were going to hack out of the jungle across Raihu River from the Hansenite Colony (Now called Raihu Hospital).

After the war, he went to India and was in charge of a province. When he was in Aitape with us there was also a liklik Doctor Nevell there who had spent many years in India, so you can imagine the interesting stories they had to tell. The wonderful Nevell family went on to be based in Angoram.

Stuart stayed with us for two years and had to go to Australia, as he was diagnosed with TB. He was at the RSL Hospital at Pullenvale, Brisbane. I’m not sure when he passed away, or where he is buried. I would like to know.

I found him to be one of the finest men I have ever come across. And how privileged I was as a young man to have been influenced by a person with an enormous sense of fair play and honesty.

I salute the memory of a gentleman of the highest order.

Rob Parer

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Latham shoots straight from the shoulder!

February 6, 2011 at 4:08 am (Uncategorized) (, , , )

Whatever you think of Mark any fair- minded person would have to say that he’s a straight shooter. You can agree or disagree with him but he says what he thinks, and that’s more than you can say for most of our politicians today, whatever the complexion of their party affiliation.

Take his recent criticism of Prime Minister Julia Gillard that “she is not a naturally empathetic person – displaying, for instance, noticeable discomfort around infant children”. The press or at least The Sun-Herald, February 6, 2011, concludes from this that Latham is saying that those who choose not to have children are unable to love. I can’t see a direct quote of his to support this conclusion but it might reflect the general direction of his thoughts.

In defence of Julia, I don’t think she has ever claimed to be the mother of the nation or for that matter a great supporter of the Christian concept of marriage. Her decision to be childless may well be for very good reasons, after all, Tim Mathieson, her de facto partner, has three adult children, two by a former wife and one love child. This all in all could be said to be enough for both of them, and perhaps inspired her decision to be childless.  Love could be said to be in Julia’s circle “… a many-splendored thing.” But if Mark feels that her childless state reflects on her capacity to love he’s entitled to say it.

Whatever Latham says, the Australian taxpayers should realize that his words don’t come cheap, when you consider the considerable Commonwealth Parliamentary Pension he’s on.

(In reference to the title:

IDIOM: straight from the shoulder 
hunting, shooting and western

MEANING 1: to hold a gun up at the shoulder and shoot it 
SENTENCE 1: Hold the gun and shoot it straight from the shoulder.

MEANING 2: to be frank 
SENTENCE 2: I want to hear the news, good or bad. Let’s hear it, straight from the shoulder.

DERIVATION: The usual way of shooting a gun is to hold it level and pressed to the shoulder.

Source: American English Sports And Games Idioms)

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Letters that didn’t make it to the press!

February 1, 2011 at 7:36 am (Uncategorized) (, , , , )

In the piece, (“Catholics need more than ads to come home”, January 28), Fr Hodgens puts his finger on a major problem in the Church. In my words, Catholicism’s obsession with the bedroom has hardly served the institution or its members well in the past or indeed in the present!  If only the Church would become more like Dorothy Sayers and “…care less and less who goes to bed with whom.”

The return of the ‘Golden Tonsils’ (“A big day for John Laws”, February 1) to 2SM has been compared to the Second Coming, but a more apt theological comparison would have been the Rapture, where he and his admirers are etherized and wafted into eternity.

Stop public aid to private schools

Richard Ackland’s (“Religiously follow the rules, or catch church in bed with state”, February 4), raises the still contentious issue of state aid to non-government schools.

Since the early 1960s the Commonwealth has poured massive amounts of money into non-government schools. To question the wisdom of this in terms of national policy is legitimate. Most would agree that this has had disastrous financial implications on state schools, to say nothing about the abandonment of the principle of equity in government education policy.

The ideological rationale for the existence of non-government schools ranges from the religious to mundane considerations like class values. The raison d’etre for establishment of Catholic schools was and continues to be, to pass on the faith. By any measure today they are most unsuccessful in doing this. The vast majority of Catholics leaving school don’t practise the faith.

With the present openness of Australia to the world and its beliefs, it’s not beyond anyone’s imagination that the state could end up financing schools that are ideologically opposed to our secular liberal society.

How can anyone justify state aid to schools like Riverview and Kings after looking at some of our high schools in the Western suburbs?

The state should provide a first class education in its own schools that are open to all, and if some parents want to send their children to non-government schools that is their right, but it is not their right to expect the state to finance these schools.

An article published in Eureka Street and copied to add a balance to my comments above:

Home » Vol 21 No 2 > Why private schools need more money

Why private schools need more money


At this time of year, there is normally a raft of stories about private school fees and government funding. Now, there seems to be a swing in public sentiment towards questioning the level of financial support given to private schools.

A recent poll shows 70 per cent of people think the Federal Government gives too much money to private schools. The Australian Education Union, representing state school teachers, is campaigning on the issue, and a number of newspapers and commentators arepushing the same agenda.

Such commentary is significant because the Gonski review into Federal funding of schools isunderway. The review may shape the funding of non-government schools for many years to come. 

But headlines about rising school fees and claims that the majority of funding goes to private schools are full of misinformation and bias, and amount to a campaign against non-government schools.

Two images are being projected: the majority of government funding is going to a minority of students in private schools; and that ‘private schools’ refers to wealthy independent schools. 

In reality, non-government schools educate about one in three of all Australian students, most of whom are educated in Catholic schools and various low fee-paying religious and community schools. The rhetoric hardly acknowledges this.

And all schools do not get the same funding. The Socio-Economic Status (SES) score determines whether a school will have as much as 70 per cent of the estimated cost of educating a student in a government school or as little as 13.7 per cent.

The AEU and others talk of non-government schools receiving more government funding than state schools. They ignore the fact that state schools receive most of their funding (88 per cent) from state governments.

The fact is that if you combine federal and state funding, only 20 per cent of government funding goes to non-government schools that educate one in three Australian students. If critics argue that federal funding of non-government schools should reflect the percentage of students in the two sectors, why does the same argument not apply to the level of state funding?

Students at government schools receive about twice as much government funding as students at non-government schools. Also, contrary to perceptions of ever-increasing funding of non-government schools, Productivity Commission data shows a 1.2 per cent increase in funding to government schools in recent years, compared to a 1.6 per cent decrease in non-government schools.

Critics claim that private school fees have risen by about 100 per cent in the past ten years against an inflation rate of 37 per cent. It is implied that this gap between inflation and the rise in fees is because private schools are greedy.

However, inflation in the area of education is much higher than average. The Government’s Average Government School Recurrent Cost (AGSRC) index measures inflation in the educational sector and determines the per capita increases each year. Every year this is higher than the inflation rate.

The biggest educational expenses are salaries which have consistently (and rightly) gone up by more than the inflation rate each year. Other fast increasing costs include the heavy technology component which has climbed dramatically over the past decade.

Additionally, normally non-government schools do not get any funding for capital works such as new buildings. Therefore independent private schools have to factor building expenses into their fees, and many rely largely on fundraising to minimise the impact on fees.

In the government sector the construction of new buildings is met by the Department of Education.

Aside from the specific issues of funding and fees, Catholic schools can claim to have contributed enormously to the Australian community, and thus make a claim for some funding on the basis of the common good.

The historic success of immigration and multiculturalism in Australia owes something to Catholic schools that played a role in the integration and advancement of significant migrant groups: Irish, Italian, Maltese, East European, Lebanese, Vietnamese, Filipino.

In recent years, Catholic schools have contributed to the education of refugee groups such as those from East Timor. Every unaccompanied minor among the asylum seekers at Woomera and Baxter (all Muslims) was given a place in South Australia’s Catholic schools.

Indirectly also, Catholic schools, as a backbone of the Catholic community, underpin a Church that is the largest non-Government provider of welfare, healthcare and aged care services in Australia.

In countless other areas of Australian life (the arts, sport, healthcare, to name a few), governments subsidise private endeavour — and the fabric of Australian life would be the poorer without it. It would be ironic if government funding of the non-government sector was seen to be under threat because its investment in our young had proved to be too successful.

Chris MiddletonFr Chris Middleton SJ is the Principal of St Aloysius College, Milson’s Point, in Sydney. This article is an edited extract from his comment in a recent edition of the college’s newsletter The Gonzagan.

PUBLISHED 12/02/2011

Education for all

Jessica Irvine is so right (”It’s time to cut payments to the well off”, February 11). And with the money saved we could re-create the free tertiary education scheme that Gough Whitlam gave us many years ago.

David Wall Newtown

George Brandis (“Politicians must defend the multicultural project”, February
23) makes a timely reminder to Australians, particularly those of Irish Catholic
descent of just how a religion and race were discriminated against in our past.

Australians today of this heritage would do well to consider this when being
tempted to utter anti-Muslim sentiments against Australians of this persuasion.

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