One of the regular hillbilly callers to the Cueball show is a taxi driver named "Bashir". With his thick outback accent, he regularly bitches about his job as taxi driver in Cairns. His big issue, extension of Lake Street to the Airport Drive, has clearly been put into the same "never mind" pile as the previous council, with Bob "Sleepy" Manning giving the same tapdance of excuses he's giving on everything.
Bashir then discussed his conversation with a nurse from Cairns Base hospital. He was first annoyed that this nurse, from the UK, had been given a five year working visa - apparently unaware that the Australian health care system would collapse without foreign doctors and nurses.
He then went on a rant about the "absurd wages" being paid this nurse - $33 an hour! With the understanding that in fact some of the nurses even made MORE than that! John MacKenzie encouraged Bashir in his rant, instead of calling it for bullshit and moving on.
Nursing is a skilled profession. $33 an hour is only midrange for this profession around the world. And as far as we're concerned, worth every penny.
However this ignorance underlies the core of Australia's education and employment system. Many of our youth are encouraged to END their education at grade 12, and in fact many are encouraged to leave school at 14. Huge numbers of our young people are then encouraged to take unskilled or semi-skilled jobs in the mines with payrates for our miners the highest in the world. What kind of absurdity is this? If we want our kids to work as miners, why are we giving them any secondary education at all?
Rewarding unskilled workers with the same wages as the skilled and educated is the country's road to third world living. As the rest of the world pushes to lift the educational standards higher, we're settling for less so we can provide labor for mines?
Contrast this with the statements of the US president -
"A world-class education is the single most important factor in determining not just whether our kids can compete for the best jobs but whether America can out-compete countries around the world. America's business leaders understand that when it comes to education, we need to up our game. That's why we’re working together to put an outstanding education within reach for every child"
Sadly, the views of people like Bashir are growing increasingly dominant in Australian society. Education is denigrated even at the government level, when apparently the need to fill unskilled jobs with Australian labour is seen as more important than our ability to compete in an increasingly university-educated world. The ALP's recent cuts to the tertiary school budgets has put Australia on a slippery slope to world educational mediocrity.
The Gonski reforms being pushed as "education reform" stand in stark contrast to our neighbours - with China alone producing over six million college graduates a year at the same time they've overhauled their primary school education. While here we've begun a program of denigrating higher education and then systematically stripping the system of resources. Leaving us with no choice but to import college graduates to do jobs like nursing.
Under Gonski fortunately, our primary school children will now be able to say "would you like fries with that" in Mandarin and Hindi.