Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Day 62: The caretaker: beware the bonsai's view.

Day 62 (5 Feb) Tuesday, work day. As a member of one of the university's key committees, this morning will be taken up with the business of the committee. That means reading documents, considering positions, seeking feedback and comment from colleagues I represent and debating the issues.

Making lunch, at 6.12am
A bonsai's view of the morn, at 6.12am
It also generally means an early start so as to get to the campus in time. These mornings usually mean a fair bit of multitasking and this morning at 6.12 it was making lunch and ducking out to water the bonsai and somewhere in the background, the breakfast is eaten. 

Lunch always looks so much better at this time than when I usually get around to eating it. Today, following a combination of meetings and related matters, lunch happened around 3.30pm. 

In the moments I catch on twitter (not during important meetings though (^,-)) I see much of the discussion centres on whether or not we are now in a 'caretaker' period of government, now that the election has been called. An interview I listened to this morning between the ABC's Fran Kelly and Deputy Leader of the Opposition, Julie Bishop quite set the tone. Very clearly Ms Bishop was of the view that the government is now in caretaker mode. Not my understanding of the rules (where I interpret them to mean we enter the 'caretaker' period once the writs have been called, in our case, not due until August). By the end of the day in the twitterverse however, the lines had been blurred of course and the view that we're really only discussing 'conventions' regards the caretaker...constitutions, conventions, rules, law, politics--the very mix of the first few weeks of the introduction to Australian politics which I'll be teaching in a couple of weeks...all valuable classroom discussion points. I love it. Made me realise I'm really looking forward to the first week of teaching. 

In these files, rests a story about
1893 Qld, at 6.12pm
And so of course, I'm not that bothered by finding myself in the office, again, at 6.12pm. I've a number of things I have to do at the moment, preparing classes and reading lists, and realising that the first presentation this year on the Watanabe story is coming up in a week's time. It's also time to catch up with emails (now, if only we could adopt the 140 character twitter rule for emails) and a couple of colleagues who are also still in the building. 

We are all sensing that the teaching timetable starts soon, and that locks us in to a set time for about three months. We get on with the job, we know our due dates; we're not going to get away with simply talking about how it is we've decided on the 'end' of the term. No, we're expected to get on with the teaching and learning from now until the end of term. Yes, we're focussed on the end, but we know there's much to teach, explain and discuss before then. 

Perhaps our 'political class' could take its cue from the 'politics classes' about to commence across the nation in the next few weeks. Imagine, if all I did for the next three months was talk about the exam in June, the students would rightly be annoyed. So, if over the next seven months, all we talk about is September's election we might also be annoyed. There is so much to learn in the meantime. Let's take the bird's eye view, not the bonsai's view...

Today I also caught up with the news that Michelle Grattan, one of the 'institutions' of the Canberra Press Gallery, left yesterday. She's been a part of the reporting of Australian politics for as long as I've been following it, a regular on my morning radio and indeed, someone I had the opportunity to engage with in my time in Parliament House many years ago. Much respect for her longevity, her contribution to Australian politics and journalism. May she find fulfilment in her retirement. 

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