Mike Yardley: Notes on Folau, Assange and free-fees

Newstalk ZB,
Publish Date
Friday, 12 April 2019, 6:56PM
Was Israel Folau hellbent on committing self-sabotage? (Photo / Getty)

The evidence continues to mount that many of the government’s flagship policies are back-firing. Alongside Kiwibuild and curbing child poverty, the fees-free tertiary policy is increasingly looking like a dud.

Canterbury University’s Education Researchers have released a comprehensive study into the impacts of free-fees, and the findings are damning. The fees free policy has not lifted tertiary study participation rates. In fact, there are nearly two and half thousand fewer students in tertiary education and training than there was a year ago.

The study has determined only six per cent of students claim fees-free was a critical factor in the decision to enrol. In other words, ninety four per cent of the students would be there, regardless of the financial inducements. But even more alarmingly, the study has also found those six per cent are also far more likely to drop-out of study and fail to pass their courses.

So why exactly are we shelling out two point eight billion on this fees-free caper? And why is the government pressing on with its intention to supersize the bribe, to cover three years of tertiary study over the next few years?

Why are we wasting billions on this lemon, when breast cancer patients are crying out for Pharmac to fund life-extending drugs? Or when Saint John is desperate for dosh?

National is crowing about this latest tertiary study, but they’re also playing silly buggars on what will become of the fees-free policy. Shane Reti, says the party hasn’t decided whether they will abort it. Surely this can’t be a tough decision. Jacinda Ardern took a leaf out of the Helen Clark playbook with this shameless student bribe, but it doesn’t stack up.  National should man up and No Fees-free. It’s a profligate, cynical and pointless indulgence.


Was Israel Folau hellbent on committing self-sabotage? When he signed his multi-million dollar contract two months ago, Rugby Australia made it explicitly clear that using social media to vilify people on the basis of their sexuality wouldn’t be tolerated. Now you may think those contract conditions were over the top, PCism, egged on by sponsors like Qantas, but they were the ground rules. And he signed up to them.

Folau's fundamentalist Christian views do not represent mainstream, modern Christian sentiment, in my view. However, he’s entitled to hold his views.  The rough and tumble of public debate can withstand that and deal to it. The shrinking violets who scream hate speech drive me nuts. But that’s not the central issue here.

The problem is he is exploiting his stature as a professional rugby star to preach his firebrand fundamentalism very publicly, knowing full well that it blatantly violates the terms of his contract.  He forced Raylene Castle’s hand to terminate it. And he’s repeat offender. Ironically, an unrepentant one as well. It's a tragedy for the Waratahs and the Wallabies that this exceptionally gifted player is a gone-burger. But Folau made his bed. Given his world view on homosexuals, adulterers and fornicators, I do wonder if he would be more at home playing ball games in Brunei, given their beefed up Sharia penal code chimes nicely with his own pre-occupations. 


Julian Assange was not just a gutless wonder, but the world’s most famous squatter is an unremorseful cheat, a sneak and a thief. I cannot believe how many people are hero-worshipping this coward, who has tried to dodge the law for a decade.  He has hidden from the truth for years, holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy. We can thank Ecuador’s President, Lenin Moreno, for the eviction. He certainly has had a less chummy attitude towards Assange, who he simply refers to as “that hacker.” Apparently Assange became he an increasingly slovenly house guest in Knightsbridge, and smeared faeces all over the walls. What a charmer. And  he was allowed to have a pet, so Julian got a cat called Michi, which apparently was equally defective in the house-training department. Cats pee for Africa.

I thought the London judge who denied him bail today, summed him up perfectly. A narcissist who cannot see beyond his own self-interest. The house-guest from hell now looks destined for a long stay inside the slammer, whether it be at Her Majesty’s pleasure, or Uncle Sams. Thank God this farce is coming to an end.

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