“For a nation that sees most of its school-leavers choose
vocational careers – only one in three school-leavers head to
university – our policy makers have seriously short-changed us
all,” says Martin Riordan in The Sydney Morning Herald. “Australia’s
vision for 2006 should be a commitment to how we
view jobs, with a balance between the status of university and
vocational training study.” Our focus upon university education has
come at the expense of vocational training, because if it’s good enough
for universities, then why isn’t it good enough for other educators?

The Howard Government is facing a “battle royal”
in coming months on a couple of policy issues that will “reveal whether
it’s lost its reformist mojo,” says Steve Lewis in The Australian.
While AWB takes the limelight, it’s our “dysfunctional media laws” and
the PBS that are taking most of our federal politicians’ attention. And heavy
lobbying from Australian and international pharmaceutical companies
will seriously test how tight a hold Howard has on his cabinet.

“Unless we can find a way to introduce a code of conduct into crowd behaviour,” the
debate over how to make Australian society more civil is a pointless
one, says Rosemary Sorensen in The Courier-Mail.
Australians’ lack of
crowd control and manners – including the Mexican Wave and “the
daft-looking, face-painted hedonists” – seriously freak me out “because
it’s rude and intrusive.” So “why are we now convinced that having fun means behaving with childish and selfish abandon?”
But as we are all “herded into ever-bigger stadiums, to be the
camera-fodder for ever more stupid mass events, there’s a deeply
sinister side to the concomitant dissipation of manners among those
watching towards those being watched.”

After the fall of the Soviet Union back in 1991, Russia has found
itself wanting its old rulers back – “the rulers who provided a sense
of order,
inspired patriotic fervour and the belief that we were a great nation,”
says Nina L Khrushcheva in The Washington Post. Rulers like Stalin, and more recently, Vladimir
Putin. Putinism – “an all-inclusive hybrid that embraces elements of
Stalinism, communism, KGB-ism and market-ism” – is our new national
ideology, says Khrushcheva. “The complexities of life in a fragmented modern society that can boast
of no momentous achievements have made” Russians nostalgic for the “strong state” they
once inhabited.” And until Russia confronts its past, it’ll be dammed to make the same mistakes again and again.

It
may look like “the only ambition of newspapers is to follow the truth
wherever it may lead,” but don’t be fooled, says Roy Hattersley in The Guardian
– they’re “stimulated not by a fearless determination to tell the
truth but by a desire to construct another eye-catching headline.” If a
newspaper aims at the lowest common denominator, like so many do,
shouldn’t they “abandon the tone of moral superiority” that happens to
flow throughout? “When you next read a leader that revives the old
cliche ‘It is a moral
issue’, blow a metaphorical raspberry and remember that the morality in
question is the morality of the marketplace.”

Worth reading Highly recommended

Peter Fray

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