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February 2015

Former PM The Hon John Howard OM AC hospitalised in Sydney's North Shore

Best wishes to former Prime Minister The Honourable John Howard OM AC.

Mr Howard was in Sydney's North Shore Hospital overnight for a small procedure which I understand went well.

Here's some vintage John Howard - this clip is from early 1996, it's the day Howard took Keating out.




Here he is with his immortal quote, "We will decide who comes to this country and the circumstances in which they come."


Hard to believe it's almost 8 years since he lost office.   Half the press gallery was in High School - and he's still one of the clearest and straightest talking communicators in Australia.

Not bad for a bloke 4 years off his eightieth.

Get well soon.

Something about Ducere Online Education doesn't quite add up

Julia Gillard has been announced as the "Chancellor" of Ducere Online Education.   In Australia, Chancellor is a term usually reserved for Universities  - more on that later.  

As "Chancellor" of Ducere, Ms Gillard will set the tone and standards for the "faculty".   Here's a collection of Ducere's faculty talking about integrity.   


Here's a link to Ducere Online Education's website.

It says this about itself:

About Dūcere

In Latin, Dūcere means ‘to lead’. This is mirrored in Dūcere’s philosophy; to transform education and change lives through an unequalled approach to global leadership and learning. 

Dūcere is an Australian-based online education provider offering courses in business and management. Our courses combine comprehensively developed content with the expertise and experience of some of the world’s most successful leaders. The result is a premium educational offering that provides students with the structure and security of a formal education, while at the same time granting unprecedented access to a Global Leaders Faculty of the world’s most successful individuals.

Then at the bottom of the page Ducere offers these courses:

  • Diploma of Management
  • Diploma of Business
  • Master of Business Administration Innovation and Leadership

It's hard to see what Ducere actually delivers.   It comes very close to stating that it offers degree courses - but it can't do that as it's not a lawful provider of higher education, if it was, it would be registered with the Tertiary Education Quality Standards Agency.


The Tertiary Education Quality Standards Agency (TEQSA) is an independent statutory authority established in 2011. It sits within the Education portfolio.

TEQSA's role and functions 

TEQSA regulates and assures the quality of Australia’s large, diverse and complex higher education sector. The Australian higher education system comprises both public and private universities, Australian branches of overseas universities, and other higher education providers with and without self-accrediting authority. Qualifications available from higher education providers range from undergraduate awards, (bachelor degrees, associate degrees or advanced diplomas) to postgraduate awards, including graduate diplomas, masters degrees and doctoral degrees.

TEQSA registers and evaluates the performance of higher education providers against the Higher Education Standards Framework - specifically, the Threshold Standards, which all providers must meet in order to enter and remain within Australia’s higher education system.


But Ducere is unknown to the TEQSA.

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Here is an extract from the register of higher education providers in Australia, right where Ducere would be - if it was one!

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Ducere is also unknown to Universities Australia, the peak body for our universities.

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Maybe all of that is no surprise.   Ducere was established 3 years ago by a salesman named Mathew Jacobson.   Here's his LinkedIn page.

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Mathew is quite an entrepreneur, but his description of his business Ducere left me a bit cold.

Here's Mathew displaying his unique way with words - perhaps someone can tell me what it means to "innovate the education landscape".

Mr Mathew Jacobson is an entrepreneur and philanthropist working to innovate the education landscape. Mat has founded a number of businesses in Australia and overseas across property development, sales and education. Mat has sold multiple vocational colleges within Australia, with his last sale, an education-based enterprise to a global publicly listed company valued at $20M (USD). As the Founder of Ducere, Mat works together with presidents, Prime Ministers, Nobel Prize Winners, Global CEO’s and leaders in academia to deliver the most innovative disruption in higher education by combining formal qualifications from Diploma’s through to MBA’s with real world experiences of the most successful global leaders. 

The Ducere foundation, a self funded philanthropy, operates in partnership with African governments, the Australian government, major universities and philanthropic leaders in the delivery of groundbreaking educational programs to some of the most disadvantaged children in the world. 

The work of the foundation is broad and includes a full-time employment of 40 teachers, mentors and co-ordinators on the ground in Africa, the Ducere Publishing House based in Zambia, a worlds first initiative to capture the rich and vibrant oral story telling tradition, the Peace Centre initiative, promoting tolerance and diversity from a grassroots primary school campaign and a range of other resources ensuring adequate food supplies, uniforms, libraries and sanitation.

Both Dūcere and the Ducere Foundation are committed to developing motivated and passionate learners and leaders.


Compare and contrast the two national security bills before the Federal Parliament

When I was in the army we used the SMEAC acronym to prepare for an activity - situation, mission, execution, administration and logistics, and command and control.

Here's a stab at the picture confronting our political leaders.

  • Situation - for 6 years, Australia had uncontrolled maritime borders and 50,000 people arrived unlawfully, some of them are a terror threat.
  • Mission - secure our borders and make Australia less vulnerable to terrorism.

In response, both the Government and The Greens have bills before the parliament. These two bills provide a clear insight into the differences separating the grown-ups and The Greens.   Have a look at the respective Execution, Admin and Control.

Here's the LNP's bill and its explanatory memorandum.




 The purpose of this Bill is to establish the role of the Australian Border Force Commissioner, to enable the operation of the Australian Border Force, and introduce provisions to support the management of a  professional and disciplined workforce that exercises its powers and functions with the highest standards of integrity.

 The Australian Border Force Commissioner, a statutory officer, will have control of the operations of the Australian Border Force and is directly accountable to the Minister in relation to those operations.   The Australian Border Force  Commissioner will have a dual role as Comptroller-General of Customs with responsibility for enforcement of customs laws and collection of border related revenue.

 The Australian Border Force will be a single, integrated, frontline operational border entity within the Department that is charged with enforcing customs and immigration laws and protecting Australia’s borders.

 Immigration and Border Protection workers will make decisions that affect the safety, rights and freedoms of individuals as well as trade and commerce in Australia.  They will hold a privileged place at the border and in the community, with access to secure environments and law enforcement databases.  They will also exercise significant powers under the Customs Act 1901 ,  Migration Act 1958 and  Maritime Powers Act 2012 and other Commonwealth law, such as detention, arrest, boarding a vessel, entry, search, questioning, seizure, use of force and removal from Australia.  The community and government trust Immigration and Border Protection workers to exercise these powers reasonably, lawfully, impartially and professionally.

 The Bill, therefore, contains a number of integrity provisions to increase resistance to criminal infiltration and corruption and to enhance government and public confidence in Immigration and Border Protection workers, as well as the confidence of other partners including intelligence organisations and foreign governments. The Bill also includes provisions that enable the setting of standards for a highly trained, disciplined and flexible workforce.


And here's The Greens effort - presented by Senator Christine Milne.

Australian Centre for Social Cohesion Bill 2015


The intention of the Australian Centre for Social Cohesion Bill 2015 is to establish a national, centralised body to develop and implement key preventative programs that help stop young Australians from becoming radicalised. The Centre and its Director will focus on building social cohesion, working with communities to prevent violent extremism.

The Centre will be an independent consultative body, bringing together government, law enforcement agencies, academics, researchers and former extremists to consult and work together to build resilient and cohesive communities.

The Centre will be tasked with undertaking research into programs aimed at improving social cohesion, promoting discussion about preventing violent extremism in Australia, and where necessary, report on legislation or actions that should be taken by the Commonwealth in this area. 

Former extremists?????

Scott Morrison announced the government's plans for the ABF last May.   Let's leave the last word to Sarah Hanson-Young.



Friday, May 9th, 2014

The establishment of Australian Border Force is a deliberate move to cut jobs and further demonise refugees, the Australian Greens have said.

"Australian Border Force is pure Liberal dogma, combing ideological cuts with the demonisation of refugees. No wonder Scott Morrison couldn't wait until Tuesday to tell us all about it," the Greens' immigration spokesperson, Senator Sarah Hanson-Young said.

"This bureaucratic shuffle is all about show. Minister Morrison simply wants to talk about refugees and criminals in the same sentence, to further blur the line between the two, for cynical political purposes.

"Rather than finding a humanitarian way to work with refugees, the Abbott Government is simply dog whistling.

"It's all about cutting jobs and demonising refugees."

Child abuse Royal Commission ignores abused girls. If they're Muslim.

The Letters Patent establishing the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Abuse tell us that "all children deserve a safe and happy childhood".

To help achieve that end, the Commission is directed to inquire into:

what institutions and governments should do to better protect children against child sexual abuse and related matters in institutional contexts in the future;

what institutions and governments should do to...encourage reporting of......child sexual abuse and related matters in institutional contexts;

what should be done to eliminate or reduce impediments... for responding to child sexual abuse and related matters in institutional contexts

Last year the Commission released its interim report - here's the Commission's announcement:

About the Interim Report

Volume 1 outlines why we are here, what we have done, what we're learning and what we need to do next. 

Volume 2 includes the personal stories of 150 people who shared their experience of abuse. They have been chosen as a representative group and all names and other identifying features have been changed. 

Here are some word counts from the two volumes:

  • Catholic - 159 
  • Anglican - 54
  • Church - 327
  • Priest - 193 
  • Salvation Army - 52
  • Christian - 63
  • Marist - 15
  • Brother - 383
  • Muslim - zero
  • Islam - zero
  • Child-bride - zero
  • genital mutilation - zero

The Commission's broader website yields similar results -  the words Muslim, Islam, child-bride or genital-mutilation simply don't appear.   It's hard to argue that 327 mentions of "Church" against zero mentions of "Islam" accurately reflects institutional involvement in child-abuse in Australia.

The Australian case of Madley v Madley (pseudonyms) was brought by a 16 year old girl who wanted to prevent her parents from sending her to a Middle Eastern country for a forced, underaged marriage.   In granting her application, the Magistrate said:

  • The application is one that is becoming increasingly common both before this Court and the Family Court.
  • .......this young person’s parents have made arrangements for her to marry a person whom she has met on one occasion. The wedding has been planned to take place in a little under two weeks time and would involve this child flying from Australia to a non Hague convention middle eastern country for the purpose of that marriage occurring. 

In 2013 the National Children's and Youth Law Centre produced a report on forced child marriages.   It surveyed Australian government and non-government agencies working with children.   Of 91 respondents, 50 had encountered children at risk of forced marriage in the past 24 months.   Underage marriages are against the law.   It's child abuse.   It's a big and growing problem.   But our Royal Commission seems unaware of it.

The 2011 Census recorded more than 3,000 married or de-facto underage teens in Australia.  Here's the Daily Telegraph's report on the numbers for NSW.

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Here's a report from the ABC dated 2 December 2014.

Nine-year-old suspected child bride leaves Australia to be married, Immigrant Women's Health Service says

A nine-year-old Sydney girl has allegedly left the country to be married overseas, just one of a dozen cases since June, a women's health service says.

The Immigrant Women's Health Service in western Sydney said it received a tip-off on Monday about a case involving a nine-year-old child bride.

The service spoke to the girl's mother but said it could not get specific information. It is suspected the girl will be married in the Middle East.

Government's response was a new "safety plan" with pamphlets, posters and the like.

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Here's the reaction from a working professional in the area:

But Dr Eman Sharobeem, director of the Immigrant Women's Health Service, said the strategy would not work because girls were too scared to implicate their families.

"Forced marriage and child brides happen among the culturally and linguistically diverse communities, those communities will not go to the website and will not share glossy papers to see what's written about legislation in the country," she said.

"I don't hope and wish to see parents behind bars ... I already tried with many of them to talk about informing the authorities, and as soon as I put that on the table the girls actually turn their back and say 'we're not even going to have a conversation with you'."

Instead Dr Sharobeem said the Government's new strategy needed to put more resources towards grassroots education campaigns and to teach girls how to speak to their families.

"'Teach us how to talk to our parents, because our own mother wants to send us to a man we don't know', are some of the words I heard from these girls," Dr Sharobeem said.

"It breaks my heart to see that we're trying our best to save lives and yet the Government is printing glossy paper."

It breaks my heart too.   We have a Royal Commission inquiring into the way Institutions respond to child abuse.  An institution includes a religion, and we seem to be zealously inquiring into the Christian churches and their practices dating to the 1950s.   How about a bit of focus on a clear and present danger to children which shows no sign of abating into the future?

In the same way as it has exhaustively examined the practices of the Catholic Church, this Royal Commission must examine the Koran, Hadith and Shura, along with Islamist preaching. The Royal Commission will have failed us if it continues to ignore these crimes against children.

Julia Gillard named Chancellor of Ducere Education - "business courses delivered by the world's best"

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Here's part of The Australian's report today:

JULIA Gillard has been appointed chancellor of online education provider Ducere which is owned by the enormously wealthy but media shy Liberman family.

Ducere founder and CEO Mat Jacobson said Ms Gillard will have an active role in the strategic direction of the private provider.

“We are thrilled to have someone as experienced and passionate about education as Ms Gillard join us as chancellor,” Mr Jacobson said in a statement. “Her depth of experience in education policy is unparalleled and we believe she will be vital to our objectives of transforming the education landscape.”

Ms Gillard’s first official role will be at a function to launch Ducere’s new MBA in conjunction with the University of Canberra in Canberra on Friday. It will include a discussion on innovation and leadership to be hosted by senior Liberal figure Alan Stockdale.

Ducere’s unique education model includes a “global faculty” of 150 prominent business and political figures, including John Howard and Desmond Tutu, who deliver lectures online to enrolled students.

On her appointment, Ms Gillard said: “The connection between higher education, industry and government is vital to the future success of academic institutions. So too are the links between academic underpinning and real world learning at all levels of education, which is one of the main reasons for my involvement with Dūcere.”

John Howard is part of the faculty, Julia Gillard is the Chancellor.   Go figure.

Here's how Ducere promotes itself - "business courses delivered by the world's best".   

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And here are some of the faculty.

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Cesar Melhem MP with advice on how to deal with burglars and other crooks

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Cesar Melhem MP gives free advice about dealing nicely with thieves in the latest online newsletter from the RACV.

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You can read the article here

I've learned a lot from Cesar.

I thought the starting point for understanding burglaries should be the fear and anguish caused to  victims.   Wrong.  

"Western Metropolitan Region MLC Cesar Melhem says burglaries in the region need to be understood in the context of the region’s complex diversity."

I've arrested a few burglars, the ones I met broke into other people's houses because they were anti-social, greedy criminals.   Or so I thought.  Wrong again.   Here's Cesar with the real reasons:

Factors include population growth, socio-economic diversity, decreasing economic growth  and a locking out of the regional population (particularly the region’s youth) from the local economy. 

If my house was burgled, I'd say the ideal response should include arresting the burglar. Here's the correct answer: 

Cesar says the answer for the area is for a government to be sensitive and informed of the socio-economic and cultural nuances of the region, and offer policies that engage growth in the local economy and ensure jobs created from the growth go to the regional population.

“It is also critical we see investment in social infrastructure, such as public parks, meeting spaces, community centres and sporting facilities,” he says.

“Naturally, the greater number of social facilities available further discourages anti-social behaviour.”

Finally, Cesar lists the organisations in his electorate that deal with house burglaries.   Apparently Victoria Police no longer features.  Burglars can expect "A helping hand' according to Planet Cesar:

A helping hand

Cesar says the western suburbs are a great place to live and raise a family, and there are great organisations in the west tackling the factors which contribute to crime, including burglary. 

YouthNow and others who operate out of the Visy Cares Hub in Sunshine, are every day attempting to re-engage our region’s youth with the local economy.”

Maybe I'm too hard on him.  Or maybe his time at the AWU has affected the way he feels about other people's money.   Here's the Trade Union Royal Commission's findings about Cesar Melhem MP.


Breach of fiduciary duty

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