22 JANUARY   2009 





The following are the contents of a letter sent to Julia Gillard as Federal Minister for Education on 22 January 2009. Any citizen or taxpayer interested in the fundamentals of our democracy, namely Ministerial responsibility and accountability for the expenditure of public money  - leaving aside Julia's own rhetoric about transparency and accountability can only be shocked at the effect of the private school interests on these basic tenets.

The Hon.  Julia Gillard, MP

Minister for Education,

P.O. Box 6022

House of Representatives

Parliament House,

Canberra ACT 2600


Dear Minister,


We are writing this letter requesting basic information about the federal funding of public education in Australia. We believe that, if you had been performing your ministerial responsibilities, this would have been readily available to us

We should have received this information in the form of an Act at the same time as the Schools Assistance Bill 2008 was passed in early December. We have been struggling to obtain this information from the office of our local Senator, Gavin Marshall, More than any other senator this parliamentarian and/or his workers, should have been able to obtain this basic information for us. Senator Marshall is the Chair of the Senate Standing Committee on Education, Employment and Workplace Relations.

We are not complaining in any way about Senator Gavin Marshall and/or the workers in his office. They have been very obliging. Unfortunately we are still unable to obtain the fundamental and relevant information. This is the case, in spite of the fact that public school children are due to return to school within the month.

We note the fact that during 2008 you have proved yourself fearful of using the historical concept and collocation of words: 'public education". But we assume that you do recognise the reality that  the vast majority of children going back to school in coming weeks will be enrolled in public schools, and millions of dollars of federal funds, for which you are held accountable as Minister will be needed if these schools are to open their doors.

Appalling Information Obtained through Senator Marshall's Office

DOGS have obtained the following information through Senator Marshall's office:

  • Australian government funding for government school will, from 2009, be funded through the Intergovernmental Agreement (IgA), mentioned in the memo ( please note that this memo is not available for taxpayer's eyes) This hasn't yet been finalised. The IgA also includes funding for health, vocational education and training, disability services, housing and early children. Until the IgA is finalised, information about the IgA is available on the COAG website.

  • Australian government funding for non-government schools is provided through the Schools Assistance Act 2008...

  • Until 2009 the majority of Australian government funding ( specific purpose payments) for government and non-government schools had the same basic structure and was provided on a four-yearly basis through the same legislation

  • From 2009 separate Australian Government funding arrangements exist for government and non-government schools

  • Funding arrangements for non-government schools continue on a similar basis as before. The Schools Assistance Act 2008 will provide funding for non-government schools from 2009 to 2012.

  • As a result of changes to Australian Government specific purpose payments to the states, from 2009 funding for government schools will be provided through the Intergovernmental Agreement (IgA)  which will include as schedules, the National Education Agreement ( which will provide most of the funding for schools ) and three National Partnerships targeting low socio-economic communities, literacy and numeracy, and improving the quality of teachers and school leadership

  • The text of the IgA is not yet available.

Do you, as Minister for Education claim that any of the above information is untrue?

If it is true, and we have no reason to believe otherwise, we, as citizens and taxpayers are appalled at what it signifies:

Appalling lack of Ministerial Responsibility and Contempt for the Parents, Citizens and Children Associated with Public Education together with Preferential Treatment of Sectarian Education

At this stage we have been unable to obtain any information as to any Act or Bill in relation to the federal funding of public education.

Private sectarian schools on the other hand have an Act passed before Parliament rose in 2008 for their funding for four years from 2009-2012. They demanded certainty of funding along the outrageously inequitable funding arrangements introduced by the Howard Government and continued by the Rudd administration.

We note that this is the first time since the early 1970s that the funding for private sectarian schools has been separated out from that for public schools. We also note that since the introduction of the Needs policy in 1973 the funding information for individual schools was never as clear as it was under the Liberal Government in the period 1969-1972.

We further note that this procedure of splitting the federal funding of  church school funding from that for public school funding fulfils at least a thirty year aim of the Roman Catholic sectarian interest to reduce debate about preferential treatment accorded private church interests.

DOGS are informed that COAG is caught up in the IgA which is not yet finalised. We object very strongly to the involvement of COAG in the welfare and funding of public education. We believe that COAG is synonymous with coagulation and strangulation of the public interest. The Secretariat is mainly manned by private school sympathisers and their language is full of the privatisation rhetoric. The  current economic and educational crisis is the result of the untrammelled and unregulated greed of private interests, religious and otherwise. It should now be laid firmly at the door of politicians like yourself who have refused to take responsibility for the provision of a high quality, publicly funded, public education system. You have associated yourself with private banks like UBS and recipients of their support like Joel Klein.

Request of Citizens who Believe in No Taxation without Representation:

 As  citizens who believe that Ministerial responsibility, accountability and transparency means that you provide us with basic information, we demand the following in relation to Australian Government funding of public (government) schools :

  • The name of the Bill/Act that deals with funding of public ( government) schools

  • The Section or Sections and Schedule or Schedules in the Act/Bill that deals with the public funding of public (government) schools when and if it is passed

  • The documents that support the Act/Bill for example the Intergovernmental Agreement

  • The date of any debate on the above Bill/Act in Parliament.

 Evidence of Preferential Treatment of Private Sectarian Schools and Contempt for the Majority of Children in Public Schools

In conclusion, DOGS note that the information we have to date indicates that the Rudd Government has not only continued the Howard Government's grossly preferential treatment of sectarian schools, but now gives preferential treatment to the passing of legislation guaranteed to lock that treatment into place ( 2009-2012) in the coming depression. There is no evidence of any enacted legislative certainty of Australian taxpayer funding for children with no choice except a free, secular and universal public education system.

The above information indicates that basic information about the federal expenditure on public education will be buried in the middle of expenditure on health and other public services. It will be hidden from proper comparison with billions of dollars of public expenditure on sectarian educational institutions?

 Does responsibility, accountability and transparency exist only for parents, and schools in the public sector but not for political representatives like yourself?




12.00 noon  ON Saturdays.




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Last modified:Wednesday, 21 January 2009