Martin Dixon (Coalition) has replaced Bronwyn Pike as Minister for Education in Victoria. For public education this is an outrageous appointment. His major experience and commitment lies with the sectarian sector. He is a vocal opponent of the State education administration he has been appointed to lead.

Would the Collingwood Football Club appoint the second in command of the Essendon Football Club to oversee its Grand Final training sessions?

Would you place a fox to look after the chickens, or the cow to watch over the hay?

Public school supporters cannot complain that Mr Dixon has not been completely up-front about where his educational commitments lie. His website states:

Martin was first elected to the Victorian Parliament as the Member for Dromana 1996 and then re-elected in 1999. Following a redistribution of electorate boundaries in 2001 Dromana electorate was abolished and he was then re-elected as the first Member for Nepean in November 2002 and again in 2006.

Martin was educated at Marcellin College, Bulleen, Australian Catholic University and La Trobe University. He holds a Diploma of Teaching and Bachelor of Education. After four years of teaching he moved on to become principal of three schools over fifteen years, finally becoming Deputy Chairman, Primary Education, Catholic Education Office, Melbourne.

Nor can Public school supporters claim that the new Victorian Premier or his Minister for Education have ever supported or promised anything to public education. On the contrary.

As early as 1 July 2008 the Victorian Liberal Nationals Coalition indicated that there was a favoured system in their policy. Baillieu promised to restore and increase funding to the Catholic Education system in Victoria. He was quoted in a Press Release of that date as saying that a ‘Victorian Coalition Government will build on this essential cornerstone of our education system..

So, what happened to the public system which is the cornerstone of our democracy? When and how did it fall off the Coalition radar?

Mr Baillieu has also promised to question the BER funding to public schools, the only funding for years that has trickled down into public education infrastructure.(The Australian Dec. 1 2010) He has offered no criticism of public billions used on additional, luxurious infrastructure in wealthy sectarian schools.

In recent parliamentary speeches as reproduced in Hansard, ( p. 3730) Mr Dixon has waxed lyrical against the State education administration of public funding, claiming that it is the local school that knows best and how best to spend that money.

The highly centralised Roman Catholic system is not in his sights. No, it is only the cash-strapped public schools that should be left stranded from the central administration.

DOGS suggest that Martin Dixon should be appointed as Minister for Sectarian Education. Baillieu should scrounge around his parliamentary colleagues for a man or woman committed to public education and appoint them Minister of Public Education in this state.



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