Wednesday, February 20, 2008

A History Lesson: Art from the Howard Era

Ray Hughes Gallery
270 Devonshire St, Surrey Hills, NSW
16 February, 2008 - 15 March, 2008

Bill Hay   Down The Wire
Down The Wire - Bill Hay - Ray Hughes Gallery

Ray Hughes Gallery is proud to present A History Lesson, a group show
featuring works by Bill Hay, Glenn Morgan, Spook aka Gary James, Bill
Leak, Bruce Petty and Alan Moir, opening on Saturday, 16th February
2008. Looking back on works of art and commentary created during the
former Prime Minister's 11-and-a-half years in parliament, the
paintings, sculptures and cartoons allow us to reflect on the
socio-political issues of this period.

Tackling subject matter including the war in Iraq, immigration
detention centres and industrial relations reform with hard-hitting
directness and humour, A History Lesson: Art from the Howard Era
presents the audience with lessons that ultimately highlight attitudes
to human values.

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Green Mowing (by Battery)

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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Sitting out but standing tall

Today, public school teachers in Tokyo are being punished for refusing to stand when the "Kimigayo" is played at school functions such as graduation ceremonies. Kimiko Nezu, a teacher at a Tokyo junior high school, has been suspended without pay for between one and six months every year since 2003. This year's suspension, if it comes, will be her last.

"This time the board will dismiss me rather than suspend me until June, when I'm scheduled to retire," she says.

For most of Nezu's professional life, the majority of schools did not bother playing the "Kimigayo" and raising the Hinomaru. And when schools did hold these patriotic rituals, teachers who dissented by not standing at attention for them were never punished. All that changed in 2004.

For Nezu, this one simple act of dissent — refusing to stand — has destroyed her career.

"It's not just the suspensions," she explained. "For years I've been denied the opportunity to be a homeroom teacher. I am severely marginalized at the workplace. Moreover, they transfer me to a different school every year. My commuting time is up to two hours. This is all to punish me."

On Sept. 21, 2006, the Tokyo District Court ruled in favor of 400 teacher-litigants — up from the 150 instructors that initiated the case — in a suit against the capital's school board. The court sided with the plaintiffs on all counts, ruling that: 1) Teachers have no obligation to stand, sing, or play piano at ceremonies; 2) punishments for teachers who do not stand are unacceptable; and 3) the Tokyo government must pay each plaintiff ¥30,000 yen in compensation. Moreover, the judge wrote, forcing teachers to stand violates Japan's Fundamental Law of Education.

Undeterred, the Tokyo Board of Education has appealed to the Supreme Court. Again, a decision is not due until 2010. In the meantime the board continues to harass and punish educators who do not obey the dictates of bureaucrats.

More recently, in a separate case, a group of 12 contract teachers and one clerk who had refused to stand won a lawsuit against the Tokyo school board.

On Feb. 7, the Tokyo District Court awarded each litigant approximately ¥2.1 million for their inappropriate dismissal.

Hirokazu Ouchi, a professor at Matsuyama University, sees a clear link between the move toward "patriotic education" and militarism.

"The meaning of the patriotism to be incorporated is clear. It is to develop people who will voluntarily follow the government's orders for war," he explains. "The imposition of 'Kimigayo' and the Hinomaru embodies the worsened Education Law. Therefore, resistance to 'Kimigayo' is a struggle to refuse war efforts at school, as well as to defend the freedom of thought and conscience."

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Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The Apology

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's apology tabled in Parliament:


Today we honour the Indigenous peoples of this land, the oldest continuing cultures in human history.

We reflect on their past mistreatment.

We reflect in particular on the mistreatment of those who were Stolen Generations – this blemished chapter in our nation’s history.

The time has now come for the nation to turn a new page in Australia’s history by righting the wrongs of the past and so moving forward with confidence to the future.

We apologise for the laws and policies of successive Parliaments and governments that have inflicted profound grief, suffering and loss on these our fellow Australians.

We apologise especially for the removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their families, their communities and their country.

For the pain, suffering and hurt of these Stolen Generations, their descendants and for their families left behind, we say sorry.

To the mothers and the fathers, the brothers and the sisters, for the breaking up of families and communities, we say sorry.

And for the indignity and degradation thus inflicted on a proud people and a proud culture, we say sorry.

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