22 MAY  2008

''An Official Licence to Fleece the Taxpayer"





Education Minister Victoria, Bronwyn Pike in her short reign, has during less than a year made more proposals for the destruction of public education than any other Minister of Education since 1872.

She has done this on the watch of those in current leadership position's in the Victorian branch of the Australian Education Union.

The Minister claims that she and her family are supporters of public education but she either believes that public is private education or she is doing more than anybody else to destroy public education for her children and grandchildren.

Since her appointment on August 2, 2007, she has

  • supported PPPs which destroy public in provision; and public in accountability requirements of a genuine public system.

  • proposed the integration of the public system with the Catholic system (The Age, 21 April 2008: 'State to Seek Closer Ties with Catholic Schools'

  • promoted the idea of private school principals taking over public school appointments, thus destroying any pretence of career opportunities for those already working in and committed to the public sector. This proposal will destroy the concept of long term access to job opportunities for committed public school teachers. '( The Age, 8 May 2008: 'Pay Lure for Principals'

  • continuing the fractionizing and destruction of public education. The central nervous system, the bureaucracy has become a mere shell of consultants contracting to other consultants and project managers. There is no central oversight but only abdication and abnegation of any responsibility continuing from the top to the bottom of the education department. Our public schools have been cast into single units,  ready to be picked off by the private sector and zealous religious groups and persons. If you don't think this is happening under Bronwyn Pike, think again! Remember her own religious background and activities.

Private Public Partnerships

The building of a number of schools have already been tendered to private sector . For example the new P-12 school at Laurimar near Doreen has been announced in the local paper as tendered to Delfin.

Now another group of schools have been offered for tender. The list is found under a Partnerships Victoria in Schools Project and is referred in a Media Release from the Minister for Education, Bronwyn Pike issued on Wednesday 23 April 2008.

There are eleven new schools included in the latest tendering package . Those to be opened for the 2010 school year are:

  1. Taylors Hill Primary School

  2. Derrimut Primary School

  3. Point Cook North P-9 school

  4. Cranbourne North East Primary School

  5. Casey Central College

Schools projected for opening in 2011 are:

  1. Mernda Central Primary School

  2. Craigieburn West Primary School

  3. Lyndhurst Primary School

  4. Cranbourne East P-12 School

  5. Kororoit Creek primary School

  6. Truganina South Primary School

Three consortia have been short-listed to advance the next stage of the tendering process. These are :

  •  Axiom Education Victoria consortium (comprising ABN AMRO, Abigroup, UGL Services and YMCA)

  • Pinnacle Education VIC consortium ( comprising Babcock and Brown Australia, Hansen Yuncken, St. Hilliers and Spotless); and

  • Learning Places Partnership consortium ( comprising Bilfinger Berger, The Royal Bank of Scotland, Kane Constructions, Hooker Cockram Projects and Tungsten Group).

It is proposed that the successful private sector consortium will design and build the schools and manage the facility, including ongoing maintenance and cleaning.

Although the government claims that it will retain responsibility for all teaching services and curriculum, they do not detail the payment of interest, ongoing maintenance and cleaning costs to the consortia.   Responsibilities for school based matters from school budgets have been pushed down the line from the central bureaucracy, More and more school councils are left to pay their own bills. If payment of maintenance and cleaning costs comes out of the individual school's budget, then curriculum choices and teacher salaries will almost certainly depend upon the ability of individual schools to charge 'voluntary fees'. This is the experience of PPPs in the UK, and there are no guarantees that Victoria will be any different.


If anybody is in any doubt about Bronwyn Pike's long term connection with PPPs, look no further than the new Royal Women's Hospital, ( Media Release January 24, 2004). 

It didn't take Bronwyn Pike long to hitch her wagon to the PPPs in education. In October 2007 she went on an overseas trip which involved a two day symposium from October 16-17 2007 in Berlin for a symposium entitled Integration by Education in the 21st Century: A Challenge for Public/Private/partnerships. And on 16 October 2007, she featured at this Conference in a Section entitled Part 2, Successful Models from an International Perspective. In panel Two she was featured under the heading Australia Public Private Actors as Partners in Educational Policy.

Not surprisingly, she has directly and indirectly been supported by the Age Editorial of 8 December 2007 entitled; All we Are Saying is: Give PPPs a chance!' DOGS note the reference to Professor Brian Caldwell.


Bronwyn Pike is forging ahead with PPPs in spite of an extensive literature  in Australia, the  UK and Europe which opposes them. PPPs have  been questioned and attacked extensively in the English speaking world. Yet Bronwyn Pike and the Treasury and Finance are persisting with it. Who is running Victoria? Brumby or the Big End of Town - including the religious corporation up that way ?

Some Sources of Opposition

Kenneth Davidson

Kenneth Davidson in particular has continually exposed their shortcomings from the point of view of taxpayers. DOGS refer readers to News of the World, PPPs are a disaster , The Age 15 July 2002; Public Information Still Lacking in PPPs the Age 3 December 2007; Possibly, Probably, Perhaps...not, The Age 4 December  2007;   In education: it's a question of priorities, The Age, 21 February 2008;

The Evatt Foundation

DOGS also refer readers to the Evatt Foundation Website. Under the heading The PPP Mafia, 27 July 2002 there is an interesting heading: 'An official licence to fleece the taxpayer' Other articles are:

  • The trouble with PPPs: An un-holy alliance by Christopher Shell

  • There are other ways: PPPs and Public Policy  by Sharon Burrow

  • Public fraud initiative by George Monbiot

  • PPPs: A Policy in search of Rationale? Private finance and 'value for money in Britain's public hospitals ' by Allyson M. Pollock, Jean Shaoul and Neil Vickers

  • PPPs: Beneath the rhetoric by John Quiggin and Christopher Sheil

Letters to the Age

On December 10 2007 p. 10, DOGS discovered  three letters to the Age in opposition to the editorial pleading for PPPs to be given a chance. These replies were headed: Great Scot! How much evidence do we need?; PPPS? Oh Please;  and Premier and the Paradox.

DOGS quote from the Premier and the Paradox:

Bent Flyvberg, a Danish planning professor and an international expert in mega-projects and risk management, addressed senior managers on this subject at the University of Melbourne last month.

His message was unequivocal: the world-wide boom in mega-projects is despite their poor performance. Nine of 10 PPPs overrun projected budgets, the failure borne with rare exception by taxpayers. Flyvberg explains this 'mega-projects paradox with the following formula: underestimation of costs plus overestimation of revenue plus undervaluing environmental impacts plus overvaluing economic development effects equals project approval.

To assert that our need for schools is so dire ( through government neglect) that we must accept Treasury's all-or-nothing offer is an argument consistent with those put elsewhere.

Flyvberg argues that a combination of 'strategic misrepresentation' by the proponent and optimism bias by government promotes such ill-considered and unaccountable decision-making. He and his associates have developed methods to counter this misinformation that are independently monitored, drawing on the past performance of comparable projects, rather than fanciful projections at time of bid.

Premier Brumby seems to exemplify the phenomenon of optimism bias, pressing on with PPPs despite his Government's independent evidence of their failure in Victoria to date. He should not be allowed to get away with it.'


In a press Release DOGS cannot do justice to the enormous amount of material against PPPs. But DOGS can unequivocally state that they are unacceptable for a genuinely public education system. Their promotion by Bronwyn Pike and spin merchants from the Department of Treasury and Finance is an attempt to smother the deleterious effect they will have on the public ownership test and accountability for public expenditure. With the Brumby Government we have plenty of accounting but very little public accountability to taxpayers.

If there is taxpayer's money in the  Treasury to pay private contractors for PPPs, and there is a budget surplus, there is money for the construction and maintenance of genuine public schools, Private enterprise should not build, possess, and maintain our schools. Victoria needs taxpayers' money spent on genuine public schools, not private profiteering.


Public Education supporters should now be on the watch for Gunns type litigation with PPPs. There is no real possibility of a defamation case if the operation is completely owned, financed and supervised by the Government.  This level of freedom of speech does not apply if private corporations are involved in the process.

 What is even worse is the possibility of  particular religious connections and commitments entwined with the private contractors. If you don't think this is a possibility think again!



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Last modified:Tuesday, 17 June 2008