Friday, August 13, 2010

Pakistan's flood, trade training, the Three Amigos and Captain Thunderbolt

In Pakistan's Floods I commented that the coverage in the Australian media had not been especially good, far less than the coverage of the previous earthquakes. That is no longer true. The sheer scale of the disaster is now attracting a lot of coverage.

I think that it is still true that that the Australian response has been more muted than in some other cases.

After initial technical troubles, a Royal Australian Air Force C-17A Globemaster aircraft is due to leave Amberley this morning with emergency stores. The distances involved mean that the  C-17A will still be delivering its load of emergency relief stores this weekend, with a second sortie due to arrive in Pakistan early next week. However, at this stage it appears that we have yet to establish a special operation as we did earlier, for example, with Operation Padang Assist.

I have discussed in several posts just what role Australia might play in regional disaster relief. The Rudd Government had been looking at ways to enhance Australia's response capacity. This seems to have been somewhat submerged by other matters!

In Australia's election confusions, I mentioned the proposed abolition by the coalition of Labor's trade training centres in schools. Cousin Jamie came in with an interesting comment based on his experience in Wagga Wagga. Reading the comment, I wasn't sure whether the problems that Jamie referred to lay in the schools or were, in fact, a symptom of a broader systemic problem.

The crux of the problem can be put this way. Is trade training at school level value for money? If not, is this a school specific problem, or a symptom of a broader problem in trade training itself? When I read of kids trained at school to a certain level who then have to be retrained at TAFE, this suggests a combination of training and assessment problems.

Since I wrote Ranga, budgie smuggler, Green Desperados & the Three Amigos, the possibility that the Three Amigos might end up with the balance of power has begun to attract considerable media attention. I think it unlikely because of the size of the House of Representatives, 150 members, but I am enjoying the discussion! It's one way of getting attention for some of the things that I am interested in.

Back in June in Search for Captain Thunderbolt I referred to the search by Australia's National Film and Sound Archives to find a full copy of this film. This drew a comment from David Donaldson. Now what I didn't know was that Director Cecil Holmes was known to David Donaldson during the 1950s when David was a film society organiser and inaugural director of the Sydney Film Festival. According to David, Homes was a film distributor (New Dawn Films) as well as film maker who helped the burgeoning non-commercial arts-oriented film movement to see a wider range of film  in those  days of cinema starvation. It is David who has been driving the search.

I felt quite chuffed to have got a comment from David, and then had a lot of fun digging around with stills. I have decided to do a New England Story on the making of the film through the eyes of the child I was then. I am too young to remember the actual making of the film, but I did go to the premiere and was brought up on stories about the film. You see, it was very much a local affair!   


Anonymous said...


Just to follow up on an earlier comment of mine re the things that interested me in this election, and your possible 'three amigos' holding the balance of power.

My electorate is decidedly Liberal, so for some reason I feel 'free' to state what I'd like to see. I would like to see Ms G. get a term in her own right, despite how she got to power, but I dread the thought of your right-ish 'three amigos' holding sway in the Reps, with left-ish Greens the same in the Senate. It will be unworkable in the long term, and I hope it does not come to that.

I think I am leaning to a Gillard government for two particular reasons: the NBN, and "boat people". I think the NBN is indicative of a wider problem with the Lib-Nats - there just ain't much vision; and the "boat people" issue was the thing which made me cringe during the Howard years. I do not want to see a return to his policy, and I hope Labor will actually show some courage in this area. And then there's climate change. What a mess. But again, maybe Labor-Greens can get something done, although I doubt it.

As to the economy, health, education, and defence and foreign affairs - neither side has any ideas of great merit, so I'm hoping they will just leave well enough alone, and let the rest of us just get on, keeping the place tidy for the tourists.

Just my 2p - all rather desultory, really. Sorry.


Jim Belshaw said...

Hi KVD. I don't have the same worries about the three amigos as you, but then I have a different focus! I agree with you on Labor and for the same reasons, although I don't have the same focus on Ms Gillard. She is, or should be, just part of the teams, first among equals. If her ministers can't stand up to her, we risk the smae problem again.

Anonymous said...

Now that really is an interesting comment!

I don't focus on Gillard either, except as the alternative PM to Abbot, and my main concern (having been a bit disappointed with her brief period as PM) is that she won't stand up to her cabinet - or her "backroom". I liked what she did in Education, standing up against pushback from the unions, but I have the feeling she really is just feeling her way as PM at the moment.

In other words, what I like about her is what she used to display, but which seems now somehow muted.


Jim Belshaw said...

Probably right, David. We won't actually know until we see her as PM; she is running in control (or is that controlled?) mode at the moment.

Anonymous said...

In fact, upon further thought, I actually like the fact that neither leader has a clear mandate from their respective party rooms. Both arrived at the front by narrowly 'tripping' the previous party leader, and both will only survive 'at the pleasure' of their party rooms.

I think that is quite healthy, and tends more towards your 'first among equals' comment, which I agree is the better relationship. I'm just surprised at your thought she might hold such sway - I don't see that.


Jim Belshaw said...

I think that people grow with the job, KVD. Menzies is an example.

David Donaldson said...

In this election period, we could do with somebody of the pragmatic but deeply democratic outlook of Cecil Holmes. The interest for the film Captain Thunderbolt is rising with people like Jim coming out with items. Until 24 August, the ABC-TV Big Ideas segment can be seen at

Jim Belshaw said...

David, my belated thanks. I did watch, but am sad that it was available for such a short time.

training and assessment said...

Excellent article. You said it very well.Look forward to reading more from you in the future.