26 JANUARY  2007






One of the most shameful failures in the last half century in Australia has been the dearth of champions of public education amongst politicians, leading citizens, the mainstream Press, Educational Bureaucrats, academics, Principal Associations, and Educational pressure groups- with a few notable exceptions, like the New South Wales Teachers Federation and Parents and Citizens Association. It could also be said that these notable exceptions have been vilified, punished, passed over or left the country. Left wing intellectuals are still toying with the concept of the discredited "Needs" policy and are too fearful of offending the major Church School interest groups.

In Victoria DOGS knows of no strong promotion of public education by Ministers of Education, Directors General and leading bureaucrats during the last forty years. Recently, DOGS wrote to the former Minister of Education Kosky and her fellow Minister Allan and to the top 56 Victorian educational bureaucrats. Not one of them was either willing or able to state their belief in the public education system. Their ideological blurb which is  repeated in mantra like fashion  is "parental ( not pupil) choice" , and the benefit of public/private partnerships.

The only exception to the deafening silence of educational bureaucrats in the last 40 years has been the outspoken statements of Ken Boston, who in the 1980s was a Victorian Regional Director. As the New South Wales Director of Education and Training he made strong statements in favour of  public education. ( See Press Release 46 )

This failure can be contrasted with the strong advocacy of public education by leading citizens and statesmen in the nineteenth century.

For example,

  • J.W. Stephen, the Minister who introduced Victoria's 1872 " Free Secular and Compulsory Education Act

  • Edmund Barton, First Prime Minister of Australia, Justice of the Australian High Court and Leader of the Final Constitutional Convention held in Melbourne.

  • Sir Samuel Griffiths, First Chief Justice of Australia

  • Sir Henry Parkes, the Father of Federation, and the Minister responsible for the introduction of the 1880 New South Wales "Free Secular and Compulsory' Act.

  • Andrew Inglis Clark, Tasmanian Attorney General and major architect or draughtsman of the Australian Constitution.

DOGS are more than happy to keep company with the above supporters of our public educations systems rather than the dangerous "Free market" reactionaries and their fellow travelers in the current Australian political and intellectual landscape.

We quote from the above :

  • J.W. Stephen when he introduced the 1872 Bill :

" We wish to create a system of education for the whole country and we do not wish for rival schools"

and in the election campaign he had the temerity to refer to the Roman Catholic schools

"creeping like a fungus over the country "

  • Sir Edmund Barton in a speech to the New South Wales Parliament in 1879:

"The difference between the denominational system and the public school system is all the difference between bolstering up and letting alone. Denominational education supported by the State bolsters up a number of discordant beliefs, while the policy of the country as affirmed in the abolition of State Aid to religion is to let all religions alone - neither to discourage nor support any of them.

Let the Church continue to endeavour to fit us and our children for a better world, and let the State seek  to promote the elements of social harmony and material prosperity - let them do their work separately, although, if you will, side by side."( Also see Press Release 17:  and Press Release 166 : )

  • Sir Samuel Griffiths as a Member of the Queensland Parliament 1873 talking to the State Education Bill said:

" The propagation of religion should not be aided by the State"


" Primary education by the State which was to be free and the State would not assist in the propagation of religion." ( See Press Release 166: )

  • Sir Henry Parkes quoted by the Western Australian branch of the AEU in an Advertisement for Public Education Day.

" Public education is splendid in that it throws open the doors of our schools to all children...asking no question where the child has been born, what may be their conditions in life, or what the position of their parents, but inviting all to sit side by side in receiving that primary instruction which must be the foundation of all education whatever...."

and further,  in his final statement in Parliament to what became the 1880 Act "to make more adequate provision for Public Education in New South Wales":

" It is a measure, we think, which embodies in the fullest and most unimpeded way the principle of freedom and equality which characterise the isntitutions of this country....We think this Bill may be received , and ought to be received, by our Roman Catholic fellow citizens. Surely the Catholic religion with all its sacraments does not depend upon some particular form being taught; and surely it cannot be a thing, the teaching of which renders it necessary to separate the Catholic children from the other children of the country. They must mix in after years, and be associated with each other in all the duties of every day life....

Be of whatever faith we may, be born on whatever soil we may, reared under whatever associations we may, let us here remember that we are above everything else free citizens of a free commonwealth. Whether we are Englishmen, Scotchmen, or Irishmen, or whether we are the sons of some foreign land, over and above every other consideration we ought to be Australians, and he is no friend to building up a free, enlightened and prosperous people in this land who seeks to cross the path of any child of tender years by imposing some mere figment of an old-world story that is to debar him of the best means of education. I think that our Roman Catholic fellow citizens, whilst clinging to their faith with all the zeal of their fathers, may well trust that faith to their clergy, to themselves, and to the example of their own lives, and allow their children to be instructed in the ordinary duties of citizenship with the children of their fellow citizens. Making war against nobody, entertaining hostility to no one, but seeking to benefit all, I submit this Bill for the calm and impartial consideration of the House...."

  • Andrew Inglis Clark in an 1884 Paper on Denominational Education referring to  the Demand for Church schools:

"The State, on the very first principle of political science must refuse it: because the concession of it would be a recognition of the propriety of an imperium in imperio ( A State within a State), and divided sovereignty is simply political emasculation and asthenia."

In the above Statement Andrew Inglis Clark presents the major political reason discovered over 400 years of British history and the European Wars of Religion, the major reason for public education in the New World.

Andrew Inglis Clark understood the principles of separation of Church and State hammered out in the American First Amendment and he was in part responsible for the inclusion of Section 116 in the Australian Constitution.


Where is the judicial figure in Australia who can state, like Justice Frankfurter of the United States Supreme Court:

"The Public School is at once the symbol of our democracy and the most pervasive means for promoting our common destiny."

Where is there a leading lady in Australia like Eleanor Roosevelt who said:

" A Democratic form of government, a democratic way of life, presupposes free public education over a long period. "




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Last modified:Wednesday, 07 February 2007