Thursday, June 22, 2017

Brexit outcomes: a stronger EU, a diminished UK? revisited

Back on 30 April 2017 I briefly reviewed Brexit in Brexit outcomes: a stronger EU, a diminished UK? A number of things have happened since then.

We had British Prime Minister May do a Turnbull and go to the people to take advantage of an apparently strong electoral position only to suffer a similar fate.Well, worse actually since her Government now appears to depend upon support from the Democratic Unionist Party.  

Meantime on the continent, the anti-EU forces that seemed to be gathering strength have weakened with the win of Macron in France and the apparent growth in support for Angela Merkel in Germany. There is clear acceptance that change is required within the EU, although there does not appear to be agreement on the form of change. Even the EU economy is picking up and is now out-performing the UK. Importantly, growth appears to be reasonably broadly based, with unemployment falling in Spain and Greece for example. Improved growth has strengthened popular support for the EU within Europe.

The opening negotiations on Brexit have now been held, with the EU sticking to its original negotiating line. The British Government had wanted parallel negotiations on issues including trade, while the EU wanted sequential negotiations based on the initial priority areas it had set out. The initial negotiations suggested that in practice the UK will have little choice but to follow the EU agenda, although I suspect that there is some scope for flexibility. Meanwhile, the Queen's Speech at the opening of Parliament demonstrated the size of the legislative task associated with Brexit with eight foreshadowed bills.
“This country is fucked,” one senior Tory said. “We are tethered to the mast of Brexit and when it goes wrong we’re screwed. They all know it. All Labour have to do is hedge their bets. When the public realize they have been sold a pup they will turn on the party.”
This quote comes from a piece in Politico by Tom McTague,  Battered and bruised, Theresa May limps into enemy territory. I'm not sure I agree with it, but there is no doubt that prime Minister may faces a formidable task in both political and policy terms. I think things will be worked through, at least so far as Brexit is concerned. My feeling remains that the most likely outcome is somewhere between a hard and soft Brexit with a strengthened EU and a somewhat diminished UK..   .

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Looking back at the Howard Brough Intervention after ten years - what was achieved?

In a comment, Jim Kable reminded me that it was ten years since the Howard Brough Intervention in remote Aboriginal communities and of the posts I had written at the time. These are listed below.

In writing, I tried to be objective, examining the issues within a framework set by my knowledge and experience. That included a discussion of the problems involved in bringing about real change.

Looking at the posts now from a ten year perspective, I wonder just what was achieved?  What positive results came from the whole thing?

This is a genuine question because I am hard pressed to think of any.

The Posts

Some of the posts that I wrote at the time are listed below:

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Reflections on David Stratton's Stories of Australian cinema

ABC is presently running a series featuring David Stratton looking at aspects of the history of Australian film. I am not giving links partly because of geoblocking, partly because the link will only survive for a little while anyway.

David is deservedly one of Australia's best known and most loved film commentators.  He is also writing on something I am interested in, attracted too. Despite all this, I ended up turning off the second episode, Outsiders, in the middle. I did come back to it and finally enjoyed it, but it was a battle.

I have been trying to work out why I felt this way. Certainly part of the reason was that I felt the selection of film and indeed the commentary reflected current angsts, popular causes. I also felt that the commentary reflected a current trope, that somehow Australians are not comfortable in their own country, that they are here as occupiers and are therefore disconnected in some way from the land. Finally, there were comments about small town Australia that really annoyed me.

I would be the first to accept that there is a growing disconnect between many urban Australians and the country outside their immediate neighbourhoods and circles of contact. Increasingly, our big metro centres are made up of large villages that have little contact elsewhere in the metro area, let alone with the country beyond the metros outside popular holiday resorts. They occupy land but are not connected with the land in any real sense.  This affects portrayal in film. You get film that is message rather than story focused. I think that this is one reason why Australian films so often fail at the box office.

I accept that this is a biased view, but I do think that it is not without some substance.To illustrate, take a second current trope in discussion, the need for film to adequately reflect Australian "diversity". I have put diversity into inverted commas, for it tends to be a very particular type of diversity that is required to be recognised. In the end, the success of a movie, and Australia has too few successful movies relative to the size of output, depends upon a story that people want to watch. If we want diversity, then we need good stories that reflect that diversity, or at least the form you want. To argue for diversity for the sake of diversity is to miss the point.

Australia does have "message" movies that have achieved at least some box office success. Rachel Perkin's Bran Nue Dai is a case in point. This is very much a message film, but it's also a rollicking and thoroughly enjoyable musical. Others seemed to me to have failed because they fall in the should see rather than want to see class.

I wondered if I was wrong in all this and started digging into past box office records to answer the question what had been successful or failed compared to my own preconceptions. This proved to be at least a short term error. The Screen Australia web site provides some information on more recent films, but the box office data is in current dollars, knocking out older films. I found some other material, but not enough for my purposes without hours of work. And, in any case, I had become sidetracked onto another issue that I will mention in a moment.

 I did find enough material, however, to suggest that the position was more complex than I had realised and indeed worthy of further work.

I said that I had become sidetracked onto another issue. David started talking about Muriel's Wedding in the context of outsiders and small town life. I have yet to see Muriel's Wedding. I was put off when it first came out in 1994 because of the way it was described as a parody of small town life, another trope and one that I had become very sick of. I reacted by sticking my finger up in the air on behalf of all my fellow townies and going in the opposite direction.

Now researching it, I found to my surprise that it was in fact a New England film. David Stratton would not think of it in that way, nor indeed would most other people including probably writer and director P J Hogan. However, as part of my work on life, history and culture in Northern New South Wales, the broader New England,  I have been recording all the films that I can find with New England connections, looking at them in their Northern context.

Both Muriel's Wedding and Hogan's 2012 film Mental are part autobiographical. While Hogan was born in Queensland, he grew up in Tweed Heads just south of the Queensland border where his father Tom was a Shire Councilor, a community activist, an ALP candidate at the 1978 NSW State elections and the subject of an ICAC (NSW Independent Commission against Corruption) into local government corruption on the North Coast associated with real estate development.

The family was somewhat dysfunctional and colourful, something that Hogan has mined for material for both films. He has also mined his school and town experiences as something of a misfit.

You can see why I got sidetracked! I ended spending hours trawling though the fragmentary on-line material, something that I will write up as a full post on the New England blog. Meantime, I note that there are now three modern movies linked in some way to the Tweed Valley, writer/director Belinda Chayko's 2010 production Lou staring  John Hurt, Lily Bell Tindley and Emily Barclay being the third.

Lou is a very different movie, a domestic movie, one that I feel was sadly neglected when it came out. Like Hogan, Chayko grew up in the Tweed Valley and the visuals reflect her love of the area.

Growing up in Northern NSW, I was very conscious of the differences across the North, as well as the linkages and similarities. Each place, each region, has its own style and stories, stories which have changed with time. There are enormous differences between Stockton, Armidale, Bellingen, Scone, Moree, Gwabegar and .Lismore. Films have to tell a story that will appeal to a broader audience.

In the end, I think that New England and Australia more broadly are lucky to have as many films as we do. They do make our life richer.

Postscript

I also struggled a little with the third episode in David's series. I may come back to that. In the meantime, I re-watched and then listed all the films mentioned because I found them an interesting combination.
In addition to these films, there were references to the multiple renditions of Ned Kelly!

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Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Wanderings - history, politics and institutional fragility

This post is both a round-up and the Monday Forum even if its coming out on Tuesday!. As always, go in whatever direction you want.

I have been on something of a roll on the history side in the almost two weeks since I wrote Bogged down in writing.

I have now bought up a consolidated post on the first part of the series on the early days of higher education in New England. After eight parts, I felt that readers deserved a break!

Hels from Art and Architecture, Mainly  commented on the male dominance in photos. In response, I pointed to this photo of the pioneer group at the Armidale Teachers' College in 1928 with 33 women and 30 men.

Hels is right in a general sense of course, although primary teaching was one field which provided a career path for women. Hels also commented on the difference between sex segregation in NSW and Victoria, suggesting that NSW was more highly sex segregated in things such as single sex schools. Hadn't though of that.

New African discoveries about the deep past of homo sapiens keep rolling out. Yesterday's history post, Paleoanthropologists having fun - Almost Human, new discoveries from Jebel Irhoud, outlines details of the latest results. If you follow the links through, you will get a quick Cooks tour of the evolution of African prehistory. This stuff is actually important, because the research coming out now is invalidating certain preconceptions deeply embedded in elements of Western thinking. One example is the progressive discrediting of the simple linear view of the evolution of homo sapiens.

Having finished the first series on the early days of higher education in New England, my Express focus has shifted to the mystery of the  Anaiwan or Nganjaywana language spoken on the New England Tablelands. This link will take you through to the latest column.

The Express has taken to re-posting most of my columns on their Facebook page. This one got 24 likes. That's unusual, so I was rather pleased. They have also changed the layout a little so that the story includes links back to past posts in the series. That also pleased me.

 Staying with history, I want to link two apparently unrelated posts by two of my favourite bloggers.

I have already mentioned hels. This year is 150 years since the Queen Victoria signed the British North America Act, thus allowing the creation of Canadian Confederation. Hel's Let's celebrate Canada's 150 years since Confederation provides an overview.The second post comes from the Resident Judge of Port Phillip, Surviving Peace: A Political Memoir’ by Olivera Simic, a book review that deals with the sense of loss that followed the break-up of the old Yugoslavia.

The linkage between the two, and it is only a linkage in my mind, lies in the fragility of human institutions and the loss we can experience when the familiar and accepted is taken away. This can be hard to recognise in circumstances where subsequent perceptions are so strongly set by the victors.   .

The American Revolution, the first North American civil war, is a case in point. In the glorification attached to the Revolution it is easy to forget that there were losing sides. One losing side was the various Indian nations, for one of the proximate causes of the conflict lay in concerns that the Government in London would inhibit westward expansion.

The second losing side were the Loyalists who according to Wikipedia were barred from public office, forbidden from practising medicine and law, forced to pay increased taxes, barred from executing wills or becoming guardians to orphans.Congress enabled states to confiscate Loyalist property to fund the war, and offered them a choice between swearing loyalty to the republic, or either face exile, or forfeit the right to protection. Quakers, who remained neutral, had their property confiscated. States later prevented Loyalists from collecting any debts they were owed. Tens of thousands escaped to what would become Canada including former slaves who had fought for Britain in return for the promise of freedom.  .

As Hels column draws out, the processes involved in the creation of what we now call Canada were slow. She starts her story with the British North America Act. However, the period from the end of the Revolutionary War with the Treaty of Paris in 1783 and 1867 when the Act was proclaimed involved a variety of change processes including the War of 1812, the failed attempt by the US to invade the Canadian colonies.

While Canada today is seen as having a distinct identity, the evolving sense of Canadian identity was fragile and often fractious involving different colonies with different histories, including the large French speaking presence. This remains true today.

The Yugoslavia case also demonstrates institutional fragility, as well as the sense of loss that come from change. Formed in 1918 following the end of the First World War (the name Yugoslavia itself was adopted in 1929), Yugoslavia had a turbulent history including the Second World Way, the creation of a communist state and then break-up during the Balkan or Yugoslav Wars. The break-up left those who did not identify with particular groups with a profound sense of loss.

I accept that I have wandered. There are, in fact, two quite different issues in my mind. The first is the need to break through the barriers created by the winning side to understand the sense of loss on the other side, the second question of institutional fragility.

Without going into details at this point, if we look at the UK the decision first by Prime Minister Cameron to go for a Brexit referendum and then Prime Minister May's decision to go to an early election has graphically revealed UK fault lines that leave the very survival of the United Kingdom at risk.         
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Thursday, June 08, 2017

The irrelevance of US withdrawal from the Paris Agreement

So much has been happening that it constantly out-runs my capacity to comment!

President Trump's decision that the US should withdraw from the Paris Agreement on climate change mitigation did not come as a surprise given his previous stated positions. What was a little uprising was the apparent temporising at the end. What was also a surprise, at least to me, was the President's statement that he was in some way open to the renegotiation of the Agreement. This struck me a little like having a bob each way, although it may just have been a gesture to atmospherics.

On 30 January 2017 in Monday Forum - the administrative competence of the Trump Administration, I concluded that the thing that most surprised me about President Trump's initial immigration Executive Order was the apparent administrative incompetence involved, something that I thought may be becoming a feature of the new US Administration at this point in its life. I think that's a fair assessment, although there were two qualifying themes in comment. One that we should wait and see for at least 100 days, a second that the end result of the Trump administration as a whole would be somewhere between worst and best expectations. Don't you hate it when people are reasonable?

In the lead-up to the President's announcement, the leader of the National Party and deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce captured things rather well: "Well, um, to speculate on a whole range of things is dangerous, to speculate on what Donald Trump might do is insanity.”  One can only agree.

I think the main conclusion that I drew at the time, one that has been reinforced by events since, is that this is a Presidential decision that really doesn't matter: no other country followed the US lead; counter action by the bigger US states and cities will probably keep US outcomes on track re existing commitments; and in any case, US withdrawal cannot be completed until quite close to the next US presidential election.Who knows what will have happened.by then?

In Australia, the response revealed the growing impotence of the conservative right. including former Prime Minister Abbott. While Liberal MP Craig Kelly wanted to get out the champagne, it was remarkable just how little support President Trump's decision attracted. I think that people have just moved on.


Thursday, June 01, 2017

Bogged down in writing

I have been bogged down on my major historical writing projects.

Back in November 2015 when Clare B and I reviewed my writing targets, we agreed that one simple way of getting a book ready quickly would be to consolidate and then edit the collected Belshaw's World columns written for the Armidale Express over the period 2009-2012. On 22 December 2015 I reported on Facebook:
I completed the consolidation process in the early hours of this morning, giving me a first draft of 120,000 words. A fair bit of editing is required to consolidate, improve English, add explanatory material etc. Writing a weekly column under deadlines does not always make for good English, while some columns would be far too obscure for general reading.. Still, this type of editing is a process I quite enjoy.
 So far so good, but I then became dissatisfied. I didn't think that the draft was of the right standard and required far more editing than I had expected. I still hadn't given up on the project, but ended putting it aside for the moment, returning to my two main writing projects.

The first is the history of Northern New South Wales, the broader New England, over the last 50,000 years. This is broken into four parts: an introduction to set the scene and to help integrate the entire book; Aboriginal New England up to 1788; Colonial New England; and then New England in the Twentieth Century.

Those who have followed my blogs will know from the occasional references to this project that it seems to have stretched on and on. I accept that I lack discipline, but I keep finding new topics, new themes, that demand to be included. I also keep finding gaps in my knowledge that I wasn't aware of and which now need to be filled.

The final book will, I hope, be all the better for all this. Certainly it will be very different from the original work as envisaged. The first outline had a strong political focus with the 150+ year fight for self-government as the unifying theme in the last two sections of the book. That's still there, but the book has become much more a social and cultural history.

One particular difficulty is the way the present keeps intruding on the past, forcing me to ask new questions, to decide on new questions of balance. One example here is the concern with child sexual abuse, for many of the issues raised at the Royal Commission relate to the Hunter and Northern Rivers, but came to light after my cut-off date.  A second example is the stolen generation. This had become a major issue by 2000 following the 1997 Bringing Them Home Report, but has continued to run since.

I need to reference both and especially the second, but how much to say, how much extra work to do? I could just reference the later work, but I have a particular problem with the stolen generation that makes me reluctant to do so because it is part of and indeed conflicts to a degree with a theme I already have in draft. I need to understand what has happened and I can't just rely on the report for that. The photo is of the Kinchela Boys' Home outide kempsey. .  

The second major project is New England Travels: journeys through space and time. I announced this project at the end of May 2014 -  New England Travels – journeys through space and time. I described the project in this way:
The working title is New England Travels – journeys through space and time. Part autobiographical memoir, part travel story, part history, my story meanders wherever it will take me. New England provides the unifying element, the frame if you like, but I am not restricted to that; the sands of Arabia, Lugard’s Nigeria, spying in Japan, boxing and boxing tents, life and death on the frontier, the rise and fall of dynasties and the strange by-ways of family life are already there, sketched on the canvas I have created; my choice now is to select. 
I am not being too ambitious. For the moment, I have an income to earn, other things to write. My writing target is 300 words per day. So far I am sticking to it, although it’s very early days. For the present at least, I am finding the process liberating, an anodyne to other frustrations that bedevil me. I know that the draft will change greatly as I write. Even now it has changed several times as I strive to capture the right words, to achieve the balance I want.
Mmmm. What I hadn't properly realised was the extent of new research required to deliver the project as defined. I was, in fact, trying to research two major if somewhat overlapping book projects at the same time. I simply couldn't achieve 300 original words a day.

It was this realisation that finally led to the decision to go for Belshaw's World as a way of  getting something out the door. Then after I put that project on hold at the first draft stage, an intense work period intervened, so I just jogged along trying to do some blogging while also pushing forward with some research on the history. As part of this, I actually developed a somewhat better research approach, if still a tad inefficient.

My weekly history column provided the next building block. A number of people suggested to me that I should publish the columns. Even though I already had the words for a book, I didn't think that was sensible because the columns were only 500 words. I thought that the result would be too bitsy. I was truly a puzzled panda.

In writing the columns, I had begun to experiment with series, groups of up to eight or nine columns grouped around a theme or story. Initially I just fell into the approach, but when I started to get good reader feedback I adopted it as a practice. There were some good stories too such as Camp Victory and the Casino Boys.

At this point things began to gell a little. I was doing research that could be used for both projects so long as I recorded the sources for the main history project. New England Travels emerged from the mists as a book of 90 to 100,000 words made up of a mix of short and longer pieces roughly grouped around themes combining existing and new material. Once I had a basic draft in place, then I could edit and rewrite to make it interesting to a general audience, not just those with an interest in New England history. Which brings me back to my opening graphic!

Its taken quite a while to get to this point and I am hesitant about attaching firm public deadlines to the project.

I am fortunate at this point that I have been given a window to write full time. Mind you, I am finding this quite challenging. Sitting there for extended periods with no direct human contact tends to send me quite stir crazy.

Still, I mustn't complain. I am making progress even if my regular blogging is down as a consequence.

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Monday, May 29, 2017

Monday Forum - end of progress?

Sometimes I think that I have become an old curmudgeon. No, the image is not me, just how I sometimes feel!

Its partly that so many institutions or ideas have been discredited or at least tarnished, partly because I find myself tired of arguing. The concept of progress is a case in point.

I grew up in a world where the possibility of progress was central to thinking, Yes, it was a world that had experienced two world wars, a great depression and then the risk of nuclear Armageddon. Yet progress, or at least the idea of progress, seemed so real.

As someone interested in history, I knew institutions and indeed civilisations  rose and fell, that the apparent stability that held sometimes for extended periods was in fact ephemeral. I also knew that bad things happened, that barbarism, war, cruelty and prejudice were an integral part of the human condition. I wasn't especially censorious or judgmental about the past, it just was. Of course I had my biases, including some I was not aware of. I certainly had my favourites, but broadly the question of right or wrong passed me by.

In looking at the sweep of history it seemed to me that each conflict, each civilisation to use that word in its broadest sense, left a legacy that continued into later times. Greece and then Rome fell, but their ideas and contributions continued. The Dark Ages as we then called the following period helped lay the basis for the Renaissance which in turn provided a base for subsequent cultural and economic advance including the industrial and agrarian revolutions. The turmoil, constant invasions and wars that marked the history of the British Isles would ultimately result in the emergence of Parliamentary Democracy.

I accept that thsi analysis is fairly superficial and indeed there are issue here that I want to come back to at a later point. For the present, though, I want to pose a simple question: is the concept of progress still relevant? I am still an optimist and would argue that it is, but the case is arguable now in a way that would have seemed inconceivable a few decades ago.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Death of Roger Moore, Saint and Secret Agent

I became quite addicted to the Saint books while at school. Written by Leslie Charteris, the books featured Simon Templar as a swashbuckling Robin Hood style figure.

I was not the only one. Brother David found himself in a minor degree of trouble when he and friend Simon tried to open bank accounts at the local branch of the Bank of NSW in the name of Simon Templar and Sebastian Toombs respectively. The manager recognised the boys and immediately rang our father. Spoilsport!

Much later when we moved back to Armidale just before eldest's birth, some of David's more adventurous kit was still there, including the rope ladder he constructed to be able to be able to escape from the upstairs attic window, avoiding the narrow, creaky stairs down.  The girls were much attracted to this!

I was reminded of all this because of the death of Roger Moore who played The Saint in the TV series before going on to play James Bond.

Roger Moore was the epitome of suave and debonair.He was also quite a funny man who did not take himself too seriously. This BBC quote piece captures some of that. On Bond, for example:
The Bond situations to me are so ridiculous, so outrageous. I mean, this man is supposed to be a spy and yet everybody knows he's a spy. Every bartender in the world offers him martinis which are shaken and not stirred. What kind of serious spy is recognized everywhere he goes? It's outrageous
Quite, and that's why the series has survived so well, I think. At a time when there is so much apparent seriousness in the world (news of Roger Moore's death coincided with news of the Manchester bombing), its nice to have a degree of the outrageous.    

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Breaking Bad swallows Anne

I belong to an online discussion group focused on the work of a particular British writer. Membership is almost entirely female.

It's generally a friendly chatty group. Suddenly, outrage burst forth in a stream of strongly expressed emails. I had no idea what was going on. Finally, I worked out that the ire was directed at a new Netflix version of Anne of Green Gables, Anne with an E.

For those who don't know the book, Anne of Green Gables was written by the Canadian author L M (Lucy Maud) Montgomery. It tells the story of  Anne Shirley, an 11-year-old orphan girl, who is mistakenly sent to Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert, a middle-aged brother and sister who had intended to adopt a boy to help them on their farm in the fictional town of Avonlea on Prince Edward Island. The novel recounts how Anne makes her way with the Cuthberts, in school, and within the town.

First published in 1908, the book has been translated into twenty languages, sold more than 50 million copies.and has never been out of print.It has been translated into multiple films, TV series and stage shows.

As a very young child, I watched a re-release of the !934 black and white film at the local cinema. I remember being quite frightened at the early part.

I read the book much later, decided I really liked it and then read the whole Anne series. I also watched two of the later TV series and liked them too.

Making a new version of (or based around) a classic  is always difficult because you are dealing with an audience that has its own already formed views. Anne of Green Gables: A New Beginning, the fourth and final film in Sullivan Entertainment's Anne of Green Gables series, was a completely new story. Anne, now a middle aged woman who has lost Gilbert during the Second World War (something not in the books), begins a search into her past life before she came to Green Gables.This has far reaching effects on her own life.

The film effectively bombed, in part because it was just too far outside audience expectations to gain acceptance. Reactions within the discussion group to the new Anne (CBC) or Anne with an E (Netflix) series were much the same. Those who had seen the first episodes said they would not watch anymore. Those who had not but had been planning too decided not to watch.

The new series  was adapted by Emmy-winning showrunner, director, and writer, Moira Walley-Beckett of “Breaking Bad” fame.

According to the New Yorker,  she told the CBC that she wanted it to “look like a Jane Campion film, and it does.” But she wanted more:
 “I wanted to ground it in the foundation of some of the story and some of the plot that’s already there but not fully explored,” she said. “So it’s like I sort of open up the spine of the book, reach in between the lines of the pages, and chart some new territory.”  
While Anne of Green Gables is now classified as children's book, Montgomery thought of it as a book for all ages. There are dark even melodramatic elements in the book, it could easily be done as a Victorian melodrama, but these are submerged in the text by Anne's character. To open up the spine of the book and (I think) to meet perceived modern sensibilities, new material has been added and the weighting changed.

Critical reaction has been mixed but generally negative. The New York Time's Neil Genzlinger (Review: ‘Anne With an E’ Is a Rewarding Return to Green Gables") liked it: :"You say darker, I say richer", he wrote, although adding "Watch this series with young children and you’d best be prepared to annotate it on the fly. But do feel free to watch it with young children." .

Willa Paskin in The Melbourne Age (Anne of Green Gables gets the Breaking Bad Treatment) has a long interview with Moira Walley-Beckett in which she explains her motivation for the approach she has taken, the re-weighting she has made. Slate's  Marissa Martinelli summarised her reaction this way: "Netflix’s dark, gritty reboot of Anne of Green Gables has all the subtlety of a chalkboard smashed over your head." .
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To Sarah Larson in the New Yorker, this is a case of 'how not to adapt "Green Gables"'. To TV Guide's Kat Rosenfield "Anne of Green Gables Fans Are Totally Traumatized By Netflix's Adaptation" In the Jesuit review America, Haley Stewart reports '“Anne of Green Gables” becomes a gothic nightmare in Netflix's “Anne With an E”" And so the reviews go on, many with very funny lines to make their point.

There was universal praise for the production values, while episode one also attracted praise, but then the criticism mounted. Twitter reaction was deeply divided, with some support. But overall, it would appear that the reaction of my on-line discussion group was not far out, that the changes had gone just too far outside acceptable bounds for those to whom Anne was a much loved character.  

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Congratulations to marcellous on surviving ten years of blogging

It is ten years since marcellous started blogging, an anniversary celebrated in Ten years. The post begins:
It is ten years since the first post on this blog. Some kind of retrospective seems called for. 
I had lurked on others’ blogs for years.  I probably caught the blogging wave just as it was about to recede.  As early as September that year I wondered if that was so as I saw blogs falling by the wayside.  That may have been more churn than decline, but by 2012 or 2013 other social media were clearly leaving blogs behind.  Now it is mostly the older and more fixed in their ways who persist. (My bolding.).
Mmmm. I agree re the impact of other forms of social media. I agree that blogging has greatly changed and should now be perhaps be classified as an aging form. However, when I look the really big changes in blogging the position is a little more complex than that.

The original diary blog has certainly declined , while there has been loss at the younger end of the age spectrum. The days when I used Google blog search to track evolving events are long gone, replaced by twitter and the adoption of live blogging approaches by the main stream media. And yet? Is it just the case that we have settled into our own niches? After all, new blogs are still emerging, although they are now probably far more special purpose.

Looking at my own platforms (blogs, Facebook, Twitter, column) based on what data I have plus my own impressions, there are interesting differences across platforms.Some of the data is a little uncomfortable. For example, on Twitter 63% of my followers are male, only 37% female; 84% of my followers come from Australia, 64% from NSW. That's a bit unbalanced.

On my public Facebook page by contrast, males drop to to 56%. Facebook also provides age data where there is a distinct younger skew. By contrast, on this blog I think my readership and certainly my commenters are older. This is the case for my newspaper column as well. Those interested in history in general including local history do tend to be older.

I fear I have sidetracked a little, although I blame marcellous for that! However, my purpose here was actually to congratulate him on surviving ten years of blogging. marcellous's post provides an overview of some of his posts including his neglected favourite Drug dealing in the Eastern Suburbs – a true story.  

 

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Saturday Morning Musings - remembering Mark Colvin, the future of the Australian media

ABC's Mark Colvin's death has affected many people including me. His voice, his intelligence, have been part of my life for many years. You will find some details on his life here and here. . He was one of those people who gave the ABC its  credibility.

During the week I was approached by the Melbourne Press Club. They wanted a photo of someone for their Australian Media Hall of Fame and the best photo they could find was one from me.

I couldn't help them. While I could give provenance, the photo simply wasn't of the resolution required. The best I could do was to provide them with some leads on possible sources that might have photos. Finding specific photos on the internet has become a huge problem. Its partly the sheer increase in volume, but its also due to loss of sites over time, to changes in search algorithms, to changing treatment of photos.

Its very frustrating when you have seen a photo before but can no longer find it no matter how hard you search. I'ts also frustrating, especially for someone interested in Australian history, when entire series vanish. Bottom line. If you see a photo that is important, save it with details. You may never see it again.

Meantime, media change continued. In April came the latest round of the never-ending Fairfax restructuring followed by the opportunistic TPG proposal. Then came the opening of the New York Time's Australian front, adding to the proliferation of centre, left of centre online mastheads.  

Roy Morgan released the results of the print readership for major newspapers in the twelve months to end March 2017 showing further declines in readership of the main Fairfax newspapers except for the Financial Review.The Australian also recorded an increase in its readership during the week, with a decline at the weekend.

From time to time I have complained about what I see as weaknesses in Fairfax's strategic directions. Like many, I am worried about the decline in journalism, in the scope for in-depth coverage, in basic reporting.

Mark Colvin was a reporter, now an under-valued breed. I wonder whether the future development of the Australian Media Hall of Fame will simply document the end of reporting? I don't think that it need be this way, although I struggle to articulate a proper alternative. I just think that Fairfax is perhaps a case study in what not to do!   

Thursday, May 04, 2017

Remembering the Oceanic Cafe

When I first started working at Parramatta, I walked past this old cafe. It was a strange place, totally old fashioned, very cheap plan menu with few customers other than old guys sitting there quietly eating their lambs fry and bacon.

Then I noticed that it was not open sometimes. Suddenly, I knew. When I was coming to Sydney in my last years at school or early university I had eaten there. It wasn't posh then, but it was very cheap with large servings. Now, all those years later, it was still there and unchanged.

Looking down at the old lady who always sat in the back, I said to myself that you should go. The food is remarkable value, and you still like the things that they serve.

Finally, the place was shut. I had not been there. I kept reminding myself that there must be a story, it had to be a Sydney icon of some type, but I hadn't looked until for detail until they started altering the building and the last signs of the cafe started to vanish.

The story I found was very interesting but only partial. I quote from Not quite Nigella.
Run by a Mother and Daughter team as a community service for those in need, the interior of the cafe is a sight to behold. 
Unchanged from the original 1920's interior, there are booth style seats, roughly drawn menus that you know haven't changed in decades and specials of the day at the princely sum of $5 (the most expensive item being $9).As we walk in, they peer out from the little window to see who the interlopers are. We order at the table with the daughter, a smiling, slightly nervous woman who is a little hard of hearing but nevertheless unassuming and well meaning. 
Looking around the Oceanic Cafe as we are leaving, I wanted to know more about the Mother and Daughter duo and the history behind it and Queen Viv suggests that I contact Jay Katz of Radio FBI 94.5, a community Radio station, a man who has had a long association and friendship with them through his work driving Missionbeat vans. He's friendly and happy to chat about them, eager for the rest of Sydney to know and pay respect to their efforts. The publicity shy Mum and the daughter (Christina) are of Greek descent with the mum working at the Oceanic since the 1930's. Jay says, "There were so many down and out guys and ladies for decades who had close relationships with Christina and mum. They had a wall in the kitchen full of postcards and those postcards were things from inside Long Bay (Prison) from people who would've taken stretches there. They knew just about every character and some of them they even knew them from children and their criminal history and in that sense it's so community based."
During the time they've been open, and it's a good 70 plus years, they've seen a lot of people. "They'd have chronic alcoholics there that were quite violent. Going back to the late 70s there was a character in Sydney called The Skull who was head of the National Front (neo Nazi organisation). Mike Walsh used to put him on television but I can remember sitting across from him having lunch once and he just started to get really aggressive and scream abuse at everyone and mum came out of the kitchen and grabbed him by the back of the ear and threw him out. She was probably the only person in the country that would do that" he chuckles. 
 As I understand it from the sources, the cafe kept open because mum wanted to maintain it. When she died, that was no longer possible.I imagine there were also potential problems with the owners. That small block is overdue for gentrification, and the cafe can't have made enough money to meet full commercial rents.

Mum's funeral service was at St Spryidon's just down the road. I missed not just a chance for a last meal, but also a chance to pay my respects.

Sources:

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Am I really Bingo Little?!

I have always liked the writing of P G Wodehouse, so when an opportunity came up to do one of those on-line tests to determine which Wodehouse character I was I could not resist.  But did I have to be Bingo Little?

I quote:
"You're a lovesick loon, always having your head turned by the latest pretty young thing. Some might think you flighty, but you're just a hopeless romantic, alas! What ho, Bingo, what ho!"

Now our blogging friend Ramana did much better, scoring Jeeves. Again I quote:
You are the quintessential gentleman’s personal gentleman — always shimmering into a room with the solution to a tough nut. You are well read, well bred and look good in a uniform. What ho, Jeeves, what ho!”
Now in Ramana's case, I can see a fit, as least so far as the problem solving characteristics are concerned. But why oh why couldn't I have been Psmith? That's Smith with a P.

I first came across Psmith while in London on a trip when I found a complete set of the Psmith books. I was immediately attracted to him by his attitude and ability to get out of scrapes.

Now in reality, I am not quite a Psmith type beyond an unfortunate tendency to smoke, the sometimes adoption of flowery language, a liking for the better things of life and even the very occasional adoption of dandyism. I wish those who know me would stop laughing at the last! It does happen, sometimes!

But I do admire his style. I would much prefer to be Psmith than a lovesick loon or hopeless romantic. And "what ho?" Mind you, on the last, one of my early nick names at secondary school was "Tally ho the foxes". But that's another story.

Tuesday, May 02, 2017

Drinking with Frederick IX

I wandered out to buy a few things yesterday. I'm writing full time at the moment which means that I go stir-crazy quite frequently.

A neighbour was sitting on his front porch. I think that he is about my age. He is a full time carer who looks after a severely disabled girl forced to spend her time in a wheel chair.

"I'm Danish", he said. I was curious, so wandered closer, leaning against the fence. "Really? My eldest daughter is living in Copenhagen".

We chatted about Denmark in general and Copenhagen in particular. I told him the story about Mary on a run with security guard behind. One of H's Australian friends was visiting and also out getting some exercise. Danes are exercise freaks and it seems to infect visitors, me included. Seeing Mary quite made the friend's day.

"My father used to drink with Frederick nine", he said. "Really?"  I said from my perch on the fence. "Yes, he was covered with tattoos".

Fascinated, I said "Didn't he used to ride through the streets of Denmark during the German occupation to raise morale?" Now here I was actually getting confused with Frederick's father, Christian X. Perhaps my neighbour was too.

"Yes" he said. "He used to say at the end of drinks, my horse knows the way home!"

I have no idea of the literal truth of all this, although on investigation it does appear that Frederick had tattoos. But I ended thinking that it was all very Danish!

Monday, May 01, 2017

Monday Forum - whatever!

This Monday Forum is another where you will.

The last two posts on my history blog (Human occupation of North America pushed back over 100,000 yearsExtracting ancient DNA from sediments - and the rise of multidisciplinary history) both deal with the application of science to the study of human history. I wonder whether we are looking at the emergence of what I think of as a new history.

The BBC has briefly put on line its now famous 1953 interview with Evelyn Waugh. Waugh strikes me as a difficult man, but there is no doubt of his natural command of the English language. Which writers do you love for their general command of  English or indeed their capacity for single phrases?

Finally, have I reached a natural end point for these Monday Forums? They have sometimes generated interesting discussion and been very useful from my viewpoint.

I generally try to write something to stimulate discussion. Am I better off dropping them all together? Or just leaving them as a placeholder for you to drop things as you see fit?

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Brexit outcomes: a stronger EU, a diminished UK?

Yesterday 29 April, the EU-27 formally endorsed the EU's negotiating guidelines for its negotiations with the UK over that country's exit from the EU. The photo shows Germany's Angela Merkel in discussions with Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat.

The BBC has some of the best coverage. The links within this story will carry you through to related stories.

The EU focus on a united front was on display and reinforced by the European Council endorsement.

These negotiations were never going to be easy. The UK Government wanted parallel negotiations including trade, whereas the EU is insisting on sequential negotiations with the first key issues guaranteeing the rights of the 4.5 million EU/UK citizens who live in the UK or the EU; the future of the Northern Island border; and resolution of outstanding budget issues. This can be followed by discussions on trade matters.

Completed in 1992, the EU single market allows the free movement of goods, services, money and people within the European Union as if it was a single country. The UK has ruled out full participation, while the EU says it will not allow cherry picking. The trade negotiations are therefore likely to be complicated.

It is quite easy to think of worst case scenarios. In the worst of all absolute cases, the UK suffers major economic setbacks and shrinks to the United Kingdom of England and Wales, while the EU itself largely disintegrates, leaving a gaggle of inward looking nationalist protectionist states from the UK to the Balkans.This combination is unlikely.

I have previously argued that the institutional and economic factors linking the European federation are now so deeply entrenched that they provide a great deal of internal cohesion. My feeling is that the Brexit process is likely to reinforce EU unity and cohesion. This gives rise to the next worst case, one in which UK suffers major economic setbacks and shrinks to the United Kingdom of England and Wales with the EU surviving, if damaged at some levels. I think that the greatest risk to the EU from Bexit is not economic, but a narrowing of view linked not just to the withdrawal process, but to the withdrawal of the leavening effect of UK membership on EU culture and institutions.

Perhaps the absolute best case, the one that some of the Brexiteers hope for (not all: some devoutly look to the nationalist, protectionist alternative), is a reinvigorated UK with the EU remaining a strong economic partner and friend. This, the Brexiteers would say, is a plus-plus solution.

The end result will probably fall somewhere between the two polar points of the spectrum. My best guess is a strengthened EU with a somewhat diminished UK.   .

Friday, April 28, 2017

A short note on Minister Dutton's credibility

This post is by way of a place holder.

I must say that I don't have a great degree of trust in Minister Dutton's statements about the latest trouble at the Australian detention camp on Manus island. Mind you, I am in a similar position with some of the statements from those opposing current Government policy. Both will bend facts to support their case.

In the latest case, I have listened or read interviews with the local Manus Police Chief and MP as well as other reporting, including the Minister's own statements. The Minister started with innuendo and now seems to be relying on his claim of classified information to support his position. While I accept that there are always different perspectives, the apparent gap between the Minister's position and the evidence that seems to be emerging is growing.

At this point, I haven't attempted a detailed analysis of all the issues. Better to wait until we have a little more information.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Meeting the plant lady

Daceyville, the little garden suburb where I presently live, is full of characters.

I have previously mentioned the rather sad case of the bird lady. Today I met the plant lady. Australia Post had misdelivered a letter, right number, wrong street. The letter looked important. Since the correct street was very close, I decided to deliver it to the right address.

It was was a beautiful morning, cool but bright. My route took me just down the road, around the corner and then up the next street. Boussole Rd is quite a beautiful street, with gardens extending all over nature strips so that you wend your way through plants.

Just up the street, I said hello to a woman gardening on the nature strip. We talked. "You must take some plants" she said, pressing a pot plant into my hands. "This is a very nice cactus."  This was followed by some magnolia cuttings and cut aloe vera stems so that I could try the facial cleansing properties of the sap.

I followed her up the street carrying my pot and clippings while she pointed out various plants, constantly wanting to give me more. The garden that had begun in front of her place had spread up the street with the permission of the neighbours, integrating the small front yards into the nature strip to create a harmonious hole.

"How long have you lived here", I asked? Fourteen years, she said. "We have been very lucky", she went on. "When we came out from Greece we couldn't speak English but  were never on benefits. We built up a business, owned our own home and had an investment property. Then our business went bad and the bank took everything. We were out on the street." .

"Which bank", I asked? Yes, it was that one! I commiserated, talking about my own experience with them. "But why lucky?" "We got this place (the whole street is social housing)", she said. "Nice area, nice people."

I had to move on. She pointed back to where we had started, the area with pots and clippings. "If you ever want plants, take them from there. That's my part. If anyone stops you, just say that the Greek lady gave you permission."

I wandered on to deliver the letter. carrying my pot plan and clippings. The day seemed even brighter.    .

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Overwhelmed by history

A short post today to get back momentum. I remain tied up on other matters, some not very productive I fear!

Yesterday's post, A note on New England Aboriginal servicemen, on my history blog was inspired by all the ANZAC Day coverage on Aboriginal ex-serviceman. It was really just a note to remind me to fill out a gap in my knowledge of  New England history. The is a photo is of Harold Cowan from Grafton who enlisted in 1917.

The post drew a short comment from one of my favourite bloggers, Hels (ART and ARCHITECTURE, mainly),  that I have yet to respond to. More precisely, I have had several goes but in the end posted none of it. I will do so eventually, but it may have to be via a full post.

Part of my problem is that I am now so distrustful of anything written on Aboriginal history because so much lacks context or is overlaid with other agendas. So when I started responding to Hel's comments I thought that I wanted to check my facts. Then I found that there were things that I didn't understand, questions that I couldn't answer although I could surmise..

There are three quite distinct sets of questions, those relating to enlistment, those relating to treatment while on service, those relating to treatment after service. Each needs to be set in the history of the time, including attitudes as well as formal rules. They also need to take into account the moving frontier and the law, attitudes and structures of multiple jurisdictions since these had such an impact on the detail of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander life. The position in NSW was not the same as in the Northern Territory.

I find that this type of problem, knowing enough to realise that I don't know, that what I am reading is probably wrong, happens quite a lot. Indeed, the more I learn, the more it happens! The problem is compounded by my evolving role as a public or popular historian.

I greatly value the comments and feedback I get, the questions that people ask me. This generates new ideas, new questions, forces corrections. But again, the result is constantly broadening horizons in terms of both breadth and depth with constant reminders of how little I know.. The effect is a sort of paralysis, a feeling that it has all become a bit beyond me.

I know that it's silly, that so long as I document everything I write should be seen as a work in progress for later review by me and others. Still, it is a problem, one that I am trying to work my way through at the moment.

Enough, I think. I have done my short post! More later.


Friday, April 21, 2017

Positive reflections on the Jakarta gubernatorial election

Elections everywhere!

In February (Reflections on the Indonesian elections), I discussed the Indonesian elections and especially the Jakarta gubernatorial election. I did so to clarify issues in my mind. As I said at the time, I know far less than I should about the Indonesian system of Government.

At the time the post was written, a major shadow hung over incumbent Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama because of blasphemy allegations. It was not clear whether Ahok would be allowed to run and, if so, what the results might be.

Since that post, Ahok and his running mate Djarot Syaiful Hidayat managed a narrow victory in the first round, but then went on to lose to Anies Rasyid Baswedan and Sandiaga Salahuddin Uno (photo) in the second by an apparently reasonably substantial margin. At this stage, we only have exit poll results, but these appear conclusive. Just prior to the elction, opinion polls showed the Ahok team ahead, but with a considerable undecided vote. It appears that the undecideds swung against Ahok.

In a piece in the Jakarta Globe reprinted from the Conversation, Alexander R. Arifianto bemoans the election result. The piece concludes:
 By creating these accusations against Ahok, the Islamists have refused to recognise the legal rights of Indonesia’s ethnic and religious minorities to run for public office. Ahok’s loss means that Indonesia’s ethno-religious diversity is the biggest casualty of this highly polarising election. 
I took a different and more positive view. 

One of the really difficult things about democracy lies in the way that it allows views to be expressed that others find repugnant. This flows though into responses to defeat, the way you accept results that may be anathema to you. A related issue, one central to the long term effective working of democracy, is the avoidance or at least management of what is called the tyranny of the majority. Just because you have won does not give you the right to automatically override others. Power needs to be exercise with discretion.

Against this background, I saw a number of positives from the results.

Despite campaigning by hard-line groups that was itself fundamentally undemocratic, a theocracy is not a democracy, the final election both proceeded and proceeded peacefully. Further, and despite all the anti-campaigning, a significant number of Muslim voters must have voted for the Ahok team, while not all those who voted for Anies Rasyid Baswedan and Sandiaga Salahuddin Uno did so on religious grounds. This was also a campaign about policies for the development and governance of Jakarta.

 The actions of the Ahok team since the result became clear are also conducive to democracy. Indeed, certain Australian politicians might take note. The transition of power does not take place until October, However, not only were Ahok and his colleague graceful in defeat, but according to the Jakarta Globe, they have already moved to involve the new Anies administration in budget processes so that the 2018 budget reflects the new administration's priorities. Quite remarkable, really.      .

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Too many policies! Can we please just stop?

Too many policy announcements! With four part completed posts dealing with the shifting policy scene, Australian and global, I am over-run in policy terms by the constant stream of announcements.

One difficulty is to identify what is really important, a second difficulty to identify what is not really important  in activity terms, but is important in atmospherics that might affect longer term policy and indeed life. Grrr!  

Thursday, April 13, 2017

QILT scores - NSW regional universities outscore Sydney G8

The Quality Indicators for Learning and Teaching (QILT) website provides prospective students with relevant and transparent information about Australian higher education institutions from the perspective of recent students and graduates.

One of the most interesting things about the data released this week is that it appears to confirm something that I have long suspected, that there is little if no correlation between between institutional prestige and university entrance scores and actual student experiences. 

The tables below compare aggregate rankings between NSW’s non-metro universities and the Universities of NSW and Sydney. I'm sorry that the tables are so messy.

Table One shows the percentage of students who rated their experiences positively against various indicators. While there is some variation in the answers to the various questions, the non-metros generally score better than the more prestigious Sydney institutions, with the University of New England ranking first. 
 
Table One: Student Experience - Undergraduate
Charles Sturt University Southern Cross University University of New England University of New South Wales University of Newcastle The University of Sydney National Average
Overall quality of educational experience

77.6%
(77.1% -78.2%)
8463responses
78.2%
(77.3% -79.0%)
3598responses
83.3%
(82.5% -84.0%)
3994responses
76.0%
(75.5% -76.5%)
14290responses
82.5%
(81.9% -83.0%)
8125responses
76.4%
(76.0% -76.9%)
14350responses
79.9%
Teaching quality

80.3%
(79.7% -80.8%)
8371responses
81.2%
(80.3% -82.0%)
3557responses
84.5%
(83.8% -85.2%)
3965responses
77.5%
(77.0% -77.9%)
14063responses
83.4%
(82.9% -84.0%)
8052responses
79.6%
(79.2% -80.0%)
14092responses
81.5%
Learner engagement

67.8%
(67.0% -68.7%)
4574responses
62.0%
(60.7% -63.2%)
2521responses
66.5%
(65.0% -68.0%)
1492responses
65.2%
(64.7% -65.7%)
14278responses
58.9%
(58.2% -59.6%)
8044responses
60.3%
(59.8% -60.8%)
14321responses
64.2%
Learning resources

84.6%
(83.9% -85.2%)
5809responses
84.0%
(83.1% -85.0%)
2774responses
87.6%
(86.5% -88.6%)
2201responses
83.0%
(82.6% -83.5%)
13327responses
88.2%
(87.8% -88.7%)
7716responses
81.0%
(80.6% -81.5%)
13487responses
85.2%
Student support

74.3%
(73.6% -75.0%)
7329responses
76.1%
(75.1% -77.1%)
3166responses
80.2%
(79.3% -81.1%)
3346responses
66.4%
(65.9% -67.0%)
11636responses
75.1%
(74.3% -75.8%)
6828responses
58.7%
(58.1% -59.3%)
11709responses
72.0%
Skills development

78.9%
(78.3% -79.4%)
8220responses
81.5%
(80.7% -82.4%)
3495responses
78.4%
(77.5% -79.2%)
3888responses
77.9%
(77.4% -78.4%)
13697responses
81.7%
(81.1% -82.3%)
7902responses
79.4%
(79.0% -79.9%)
13683responses
81.2%
\
Table Two looks at measures of graduate satisfaction. There is a little more variation here, although again the non-metros do a little better, with the University of New England a clear first.

Table Two: Graduate Satisfaction - Undergraduate
Charles Sturt University Southern Cross University University of New England University of New South Wales University of Newcastle The University of Sydney National Average
Overall satisfaction

79.7%
(78.7% -80.7%)
3081 responses
81.1%
(79.7% -82.5%)
1401responses
87.0%
(86.1% -87.9%)
1991responses
80.2%
(79.5% -80.8%)
6645responses
83.2%
(82.4% -83.9%)
4127responses
79.3%
(78.4% -80.1%)
4695responses
82.2%
Teaching scale

65.6%
(64.4% -66.8%)
3090responses
70.3%
(68.7% -71.9%)
1405responses
71.7%
(70.5% -72.9%)
1992responses
63.3%
(62.5% -64.0%)
6670responses
69.5%
(68.6% -70.4%)
4140responses
61.4%
(60.4% -62.4%)
4703responses
68.0%
Skills scale

79.1%
(78.1% -80.1%)
3088responses
82.5%
(81.2% -83.9%)
1404responses
85.2%
(84.2% -86.1%)
1992responses
82.1%
(81.5% -82.7%)
6666responses
87.6%
(87.0% -88.3%)
4136responses
80.9%
(80.1% -81.7%)
4698responses
84.1%

Table Three looks at graduate employment. The results are interesting, but need to be interpreted with some care.

There is a considerable range in the proportion of graduates who go onto further full time postgraduate study from just 6.1% at Charles Sturt to 29.9% at the University of Sydney. Excluding these two as outriders, the percentages range from 14.7% at UNE to 17.9% at UNSW.

The figure for full time employment is the % of graduates available for full time work who were in full time work four months after graduation. The median salary figure is the median for those graduates in full time employment.  Charles Sturt had the best full time employment record followed by UNE and then UNSW.

The overall employment number includes those in full time employment plus casual and temporary. Some of the second appear to be also included in the full time study category.
Table Three: Graduate Employment - Undergraduate
Charles Sturt University Southern Cross University University of New England University of New South Wales University of Newcastle The University of Sydney National Average
Full-time employment

83.9%
(83.1% -84.7%)
4031responses
68.0%
(66.2% -69.8%)
1319responses
77.3%
(76.0% -78.6%)
1871responses
76.4%
(75.6% -77.2%)
5381responses
68.4%
(67.4% -69.3%)
4431responses
70.4%
(69.3% -71.4%)
4171responses
69.5%
Overall employment

93.9%
(93.4% -94.4%)
4721responses
86.9%
(85.9% -88.0%)
1724responses
88.7%
(87.8% -89.5%)
2293responses
89.0%
(88.5% -89.5%)
6151responses
90.5%
(90.0% -91.0%)
5226responses
87.3%
(86.7% -88.0%)
5285responses
88.6%
Full-time study

6.1%
(5.7% - 6.6%)
4944responses
16.4%
(15.4% -17.4%)
2069responses
14.7%
(13.8% -15.5%)
2596responses
17.9%
(17.3% -18.4%)
7419responses
17.1%
(16.5% -17.6%)
6066responses
29.9%
(29.2% -30.6%)
7032responses
21.6%
Median salary

$60,000
($59,900 -$60,100)
2850responses
$57,000
($55,400 -$58,600)
759 responses
$60,000
($59,300 -$60,700)
1217responses
$60,000
($59,400 -$60,600)
3321responses
$57,000
($56,400 -$57,600)
2546responses
$56,000
($55,200 -$56,800)
2444responses
$56,000

I have yet to dig into the detail at subject level where the pattern is more varied. Still, the apparent absence of any correlation between between institutional prestige and university entrance scores and actual student experiences remains interesting.