12 MAY 2010

On 1 May Julia Gillard finally announced a Review of Educational Funding in Australia.

The personnel and terms of reference of the Review are loaded against public education.


David Gonski AO, has been chosen to chair the review. There is no evidence that he knows anything about school education other than in his role as a trustee of one of the most exclusive schools in AustraliaSydney Grammar School. For the rest he is one of the elite of the elite in social, political and economic circles. He is a man of many roles: Chairman of corporate advisers Investec Wentworth Pty Limited; Chairman of Investec Bank (Australia) Limited; and Chairman of Coca-Cola Amatil Limited. He is also a Director of the ANZ Banking Group; ING Australia; John Fairfax Holdings and Westfield Holdings Limited. He is ideally placed to consider private investment and corporatisation of public education in Australia.

 Gonski is also President and Chairman of the Australia Council for the Arts, a member of the Board of Trustees of the Art Gallery of New South Wales. He is on the board of the National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA), and finally, he is on the Board of Trustees of Sydney Grammar School.

Investec (JSE: INL, LSE: INVP) is an international specialist banking group.It provides a range of financial products and services to a select client base in three principal markets: the United Kingdom, South Africa and Australia.

Investec is listed on the London Stock Exchange and the Johannesburg Stock Exchange


Carmen Mary Lawrence is a product of the Roman Catholic system of Western Australia. The  John Curtin University biography of Carmen Mary Lawrence indicates that she spent her childhood in the wheatbelt town of Gutha and was educated at the Dominican Ladies College in Dongara and Marian Convent in Morawa before completing her high school education at Santa Maria College in Attadale from where she won a General Exhibition and a Special Subject Exhibition in Economics.

She first entered the Western Australian Legislative Assembly in 1986 winning the Subiaco seat for Labor and then, after a redistribution, she was returned for Glendalough in 1989 and 1993. In February 1988 she was appointed Minister for Education and a year later received the additional portfolio of Aboriginal Affairs.

When Premier Dowding was deposed in February 1990 Dr Lawrence became Australia's first woman premier and also held additional portfolios including Treasurer, Minister for Public Sector Management, Women's Interests, Family, Aboriginal Affairs and Multicultural and Ethnic Affairs.

Her government was defeated at the election in February 1993 and she then served as Leader of the Opposition for one year before resigning and, in March 1994, winning the Fremantle federal seat left vacant with the resignation of John Dawkins.

Immediately on entering the House of Representatives she was chosen to serve in the Keating Ministry and held the portfolios of Human Services and Health as well as Assisting the Prime Minister for Women's Interests until the government fell in March 1996.Since that time she has continued to represent Fremantle and served on the Labor front bench from 1996 to 1997 and from 2000 to 2002. The following quote encapsulates her view on compromise:

'In politics, compromises are inevitable and working within a political party does mean that majority decisions may not always reflect one's views. Much of the time, like others, I can live with the outcome. But , increasingly, on issues of human rights and war, I have become less willing to accept a majoritarian outcome which is seriously at odds with my own deeply held values.'

Dr Lawrence retired from politics in 2007. She is currently a Professorial Fellow in the Institute of Advanced Studies at the University of Western Australia.

There is nothing in this history to indicate an interest in or support for public education.

Kathryn Griener is the wife of former Liberal Premier of NSW Nick Griener. Like Tony Abbott, Griener was educated at St. Ignatius Riverview, Sydney and styles himself as a committed Catholic. His wife has been a City of Sydney Councillor and is currently Chair of Australian Hearing. DOGS quote from information on the University of NSW Alumni website:

Kathryn is noted for her professional career as a business woman and director and has courageously spoken out about the role of spiritual values and morality in public and private life.

 There is nothing in her history to indicate an interest in or support for public education. Quite the reverse.

Peter Tannock is a long time advocate for Catholic Education. He has been the Bishop’s man in key positions at crucial times in the history of State Aid. A perusal of a website of journalist Peter Coyne at illustrates his strong commitment to this system. The following summary introduces an interview with him entitled An Insight into the Enigmatic Dr. Tannock:

Dr Peter Tannock is the Vice Chancellor of the University of Notre Dame in Western Australia. He is a former chairman of the National Catholic Education Commission and earlier than that could arguably be described as one of the chief architects of the model of modern Catholic Education that was set up by the Bishops of this nation beginning in about 1971. In some respects he could also be described as being influential in framing aspects of national education policy in this country. Despite the enormous influence he has had in the Church and in educational policy he is also a very private man not given to blowing his own trumpet. Brian Coyne set out to gain some insight into what makes Peter Tannock "tick" as an educational entrepreneur and as a lay Catholic.

The interview is of particular interest as evidence of the role of Peter Tannock in the mushrooming of State Aid to religious schools in the last fifty years.

Brian Coyne : Peter, when did you first become involved in Catholic Education?

Peter Tannock: I've been involved in Catholic Education virtually all my life. I was educated by the Christian Brothers and went on to become a student at St Thomas More College (the Catholic residential college run until recently by the Jesuits situated at the University of Western Australia). But I became actively involved in what could be called Catholic Education policy in the 1960s. That was partly because I had done a lot of academic work looking at Government policy - the role of governments at the State and Federal level in education. I also looked at it cross-nationally. I got to understand the philosophical underpinnings of policy as well as the practicalities of what's possible and how it happens.

That was at a time when the Church was in desperate trouble with its school system. The school system was teetering on the brink. The religious orders, in terms of both numbers and leaders, were in sharp decline. There was virtually no economic and no training base to replace them. So it was a really interesting point, a "tipping point", for the Church and its involvement in education in Australia. The broad questions that were being asked by some of the bishops were: "do we go on, or do we wind up?"

BC: That wasn't public knowledge at the time was it?

PT: There was some public knowledge about it. For example in Victoria in the 1960s there was a Director of Catholic Education, Fr Crudden, who led an investigation into the situation in Victoria and the Archdiocese of Melbourne. I'm a bit hazy on the detail now but they recommended that the Church get out of secondary education. They felt the Church couldn't afford the involvement in both primary and secondary education and they recommended that the Church re-direct resources into primary education. They even considered the concept of closing down the whole show and shifting what resources were available into adult education, parish education programs and the State school apostolate. All that was on the table when I became involved in the 1960s.

I was asked by the Church in Western Australia to have a look at the future of the school system here. The trigger for that was the Commonwealth Government. The States had been hammering the Commonwealth to provide more money for education. Finally Malcolm Fraser, the Commonwealth Minister for Education, agreed to receive this survey of needs among the government school systems in Australia.

To his great credit, Fraser said he wasn't just prepared to look at the needs of government schools alone. He wanted a parallel survey of needs in the non-government sector. Father James Nestor was Director of Catholic Education here at the time. He contacted me and said "what about you doing that for us" and I did.

BC: How old were you then?

PT: I would have been 28 or 29…

BC: So this has been a life-time's work then?

PT: Yes. But what I've been saying is that I was involved in looking at the policy side of things even before my first formal involvement with Catholic Education. I had done my Masters at the University of Western Australia and my Doctorate at Johns Hopkins University in the States in those big policy areas. I think the academic training was important. It gave an intellectual underpinning to my work. So, to cut a long story short, I became involved in the 1960s then I took an academic position at the University of Western Australia as a Lecturer and then a Professor and that was an important academic base for what I was doing. I was also still involved with James Nestor who should get an enormous amount of credit for what happened at that time. He's a very special person. He and I were very much a team. Our work led to the establishment of the Catholic Education Commission of Western Australia in 1971, which was the first in Australia.

BC: Was what happened here some sort of model for what happened elsewhere in Australia?

PT: Yes. It was. Underpinning it was the policy decision that was made here, in contrast to the thinking that was going on in some quarters in Victoria at the time. The decision that was made here was that "we're going to really fight for this - we're going to fight to retain the school system. It's going to have to become a lay school system - it will have to be lay led, lay staffed and lay managed. The religious involvement would be quite different. We'd continue to rely on it for as long as we could. In essence, the direction that was set was that "unless we get organised and pull our resources together, and speak with one voice, deal with governments in a united fashion on both sides of the political spectrum - unless we do that we'll go under." That was the start of it.

BC: Looking back on those 35 years since the new Catholic Education system was formed in 1971, how do you see the outcome now? Some of the conservative elements in the community for example feel that it has been a disaster because people are not continuing to practice in adulthood. What's your position?

PT: It's still evolving of course. I think that the Catholic Education system in Australia today is magnificent. I think it is the heart of the Church. Everyday in Australia there are 650,000 young people who go to a Catholic school and everyday they are presented with the witness to the faith. It's fantastic. It's the engine for the Church. And yes, we all know, that large numbers of their parents don't go to Mass every Sunday, we know that large numbers of their parents have all sorts of personal difficulties and problems in their lives - who hasn't? But there are wonderful schools with their forty or fifty thousand teachers who are giving witness to the Church and to Jesus. I'm not saying I wouldn't like to have 650,000 daily communicants, I would. I'd love to have fifty thousand teachers as committed, lifetime, traditional, practising Catholics…
What I'm saying is that if you have a look at the world - this increasingly secular society - Catholic Education is a phenomenon. It is amazing. There are all sorts of oddities -for example gradients of the demand for places in Catholic schools and Mass attendance figures are going in opposite directions at the moment. Where would the Church be, though, as an entity - where would its mission be - without Catholic Education?

This interview was also  published in OnLine Catholics under the pen name Tom Scott.

DOGS note that the statement in bold letters emphasised above is an admission of failure of the ‘mission’ of the Catholic Church, a mission which the hierarchy of that church denied for 26 days in a Trial of Facts in the High Court of Australia.

There is nothing in the above interview which indicates that Peter Tannock is a supporter of public education. Quite the reverse.

Ken Boston

Ken Boston is the only member on the Board with a history including involvement in the public education systems of Australia.

He commenced his educational career in Victoria as Regional Director for Western Victoria, from 1987-88. At that time he was not noted for his strong support for public education. However, After appointments in the public sector in South Australia and New South Wales he took a public stand on public education as Director-General of the Department of Education and Training ( NSW) which was formerly the Department of School Education from 1997-2002. He then left for the UK to become the Chief Executive of the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority. He has now returned to Australia.


A perusal of the above backgrounds of the members of the Review indicates that once again, public education is being duded. Almost three quarters of the children in Australian public schools have only one known advocate out of four in the Review.

Do Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard think public supporters are naïve enough to take the findings of such a review seriously when the dice is loaded against them from the beginning? 


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