Tony Abbott

Abbott Looking Out for the Young First Australians

It’s no secret that former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott isn’t exactly loved by all.

And yet, his newest recommendation seems to be something our country has been needing for decades.

This week in Canberra, Abbott lobbied for better pay and working conditions for teachers in remote areas, in an effort to combat the current poor quality of education for our indigenous youth.

While there are still the inevitable anti-Abbotts going against the proposal with shouts of hypocrisy, it’s hard to deny all the good that can come from such a proposal. Not only will it alleviate the conception that teachers are severely underpaid, but it will also bring us significantly closer to the encompassing Australia we hoped to achieve by moving our national celebration from 26 January, earlier this year.

The proposals are outlined in Abbott’s first report as the government’s special envoy on indigenous affairs. He presented the report to federal parliament on Thursday, as Daniel McCulloch from AAP reports.

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Abbott’s improved education proposal covers all bases

Abbott’s suggestions to the federal government in terms of how to both entice and support rural teachers, are incredibly well thought-out. In addition to a substantial boost in pay, his proposal also involves waiving university debt of these individuals.

Often, teachers must have two years of experience in other schools before moving to intensely remote schools and staying there for a good four years. Abbott wants the HECS debts of teachers in these circumstances to be waived. This is no doubt an effort to encourage further applicants into these positions.

But Abbott is also aware that education is a two-way street. By that, he realises that abundant and dedicated teachers mean nothing if the students don’t reciprocate this effort.

Australian law indicates it is compulsory for school-aged children to be enrolled and regularly attend school. Failure to attend multiple classes without an adequate means breaks these truancy laws. And yet, these violations are hard to police and often go unpunished, letting both the child delinquents and their parents get away with it scot-free.

Abbot made the appropriate point that schools in these remote areas need to engage more closely with police and housing authorities, to help combat these violations. But he’s also aware that without incentive to abide by the law, the law will continue to be broken.

As such, there are also measures to combat the breaking of truancy laws that is a common, though troubling trend within both rural and indigenous communities.

Stepping away from the ‘often ineffective’ punishment of jail time, Abbott has suggested truancy violation fines to be deducted from the perpetrators’ government payments. It’s this more direct form of punishment that will likely kick parents into action.

Of course, anything to do with taking money from people’s pockets tends to be seen as a selfish scheme from the Australian government. And this is no exception. 

Naysayers have no faith, but Abbott is adamant

As AAP reports, Labor MP and first Indigenous woman to become part of the lower house, Linda Burney denounced Abbott’s government-payment deduction plan, saying it wasn’t the right way forward.

I don’t doubt (Mr Abbott’s) passion and commitment for one second … but on this issue and other issues we do not see eye to eye,’ Ms Burney told the chamber. She added that such a plan would only add weight to other pressing issues in the indigenous community, such as access to healthcare.

This government’s rejection of the Uluru “Statement from the Heart” and the proposal for a voice and constitutional reform looms large in the debate.’

Also, Labor’s Deputy Leader Tanya Plibersek played the hypocrite card, noting that Abbott’s coalition had cut spending on indigenous early education programs.

But Abbott spoke confidently about the positive impact his plan will have on the indigenous community:

Indigenous people who finish school and who do complete a degree have much the same employment outcomes and life expectancies as other comparable Australians.

It stands to reason that to have a decent life you’ve got to have a job, and to have a job you’ve got to have a reasonable education.

There should be direct consequences for bad behaviour, not just the long-term cost to society of people who can’t readily prosper in our modern world.

Fines are often ineffective when jail is the only mechanism for making people pay.

Finally, a realistic and reasoned approach to an issue that’s only ever swayed by public emotion and guilt. Well done, Abbott.

Indigenous people who finish school and who do complete a degree have much the same employment outcomes and life expectancies as other comparable Australians.

It stands to reason that to have a decent life you’ve got to have a job, and to have a job you’ve got to have a reasonable education.

There should be direct consequences for bad behaviour, not just the long-term cost to society of people who can’t readily prosper in our modern world.

Fines are often ineffective when jail is the only mechanism for making people pay.

Finally, a realistic and reasoned approach to an issue that’s only ever swayed by public emotion and guilt. Well done, Abbott.

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The Australian Tribune Editorial

The Australian Tribune Editorial

The Australian Tribune is an unorthodox news service. Your Australian Tribune editorial team deliver the unfiltered stories that could impact your daily life — political and economic stories you’re unlikely to get anywhere else. And we’re not afraid to step on some toes to do it. We are honest, conservative and never dull. We are an independent service, meaning we don’t answer to shareholders or outside advertisers. This helps avoid conflicts of interest that inhibit mainstream sources, which keeps our voice independent. The Australian Tribune is owned and operated by Port Phillip Publishing.
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