Statistics Home The Latest News Contents The High Court Case Feedback



    In his article in the Age, dated 22 April 2002, Kenneth Davidson said:

"Is it any surprise that a Coalition plan will deliver more money to privileged schools?"

  He was commenting, amongst other things,  on the 66 page paper prepared for the Liberal Party think-tank, the Menzies Foundation. The fact that this paper was too much for the new Education Minister, Brendan Nelson, -a pleasant product of St. Ignatius College Adelaide, appointed to sweet-talk and hose down the militant pro-public education Australian Education Union,- does not mean that it will not become Howard Government policy.

Kenneth Davidson argues that,  far from widening parental (or for that matter children's) choices, the Menzies paper is about re-enforcing privilege and increasing socio-economic inequality. As such it is contemptible education policy for Australia.

DOGS agree. It recommends further funding of private education but no extra funding at the federal level for government schools. It is assumed that further funding is always required to provide "choice" of private education and private schools. But it similarly assumes that public schools are to be criticised, vilified and victimised as overcentralised , needing further parental involvement! For some reason, public education never needs further funding, only structural changes.

There is a deafening silence about ever increasing fees charged by private religious schools;  growing evidence of criminal abuse of some children in such schools; and enormous indirect funding obtained because private church schools are labelled "charitable"! And one wonders if the ALP will once again engage in fawning mee-tooism.

We reproduce Davidson's further comments for your information:

" Commonwealth funding is being switched from public to private schools to reinforce middle-class predilection to acquire educational advantage for their children.

This is bad educationally and bad socially, but it's brilliant wedge politics. Stir up incipient middle-class resentment about paying taxes in order to finance a residualised public system that the middle class is becoming increasingly unwilling to use.

The Coalition is the great residualiser under the rubric of high principle (freedom to choose in the case of education) .....

The paper on education was rejected by the new Education Minister, Brendan Nelson, but it may be read as an ambit claim to test public opinion.


The authors say that most government schools are "safety net" schools. Why? Not because they are under-funded and under-resourced, but because they are operated under a stultifying, centralised, bureaucratic control that excludes innovation, competition and parental involvement.

The solution offered? Equality of funding, which just happens to mean more money for non-government schools allocated in a way that will give the greatest amounts to the wealthiest independent schools.

Funny isn't it? The per-student funding gap from all sources in favour of non-government schools is $1400 under present arrangements and is expected to grow to $2200 in 2005, based on Commonwealth figures.

According to the Menzies paper:" the amount of government support for students' education should be based on the average cost of educating a student at a government school, adjusted upward where required according to a schedule of costs based on educational need. Parental contributions to tuition fees and education expenses should be tax-deductible.

If this outrageous ambit claim on behalf of mainly rich parents was met by the government, the effect would be to widen the average resource gap between government and non-government schools from $3500 now to $4500 in 2005 - and cost revenue about $3 billion a year.

Why? If additional resourcing is not the answer 6to the problems of government schools, how is the additional public funding proposed for non-government schools going to improve them?

Well no, it's not the money, it's the principle. According to the paper:"It is not possible to reconcile a commitment to choice and a commitment to "free" education without an equal amount of money to students with similar education needs."

So it is all about choice. According to the paper, all parents should have the right to choose, and poor parents will be just as willing as wealthy parents to exercise choice. But under the Liberal proposals, the chances of the poor getting a quality education would be even more problematic than now.

Choice of what? Not everybody can buy a "superior" or "exclusive" education. Most purchasers of a private education see their purchase as a "positional good" designed to buy a better position on the socio-economic ladder of life. Some want their religious beliefs passed on without the contamination of a diverse student population.

Why should the taxpayer fund these choices? Even now, the majority of the population want a quality public education for their children, some because they believe in an inclusive education system and others because they cant afford a private education. "

Quite right Kenneth Davidson. Australian parents, children, and communities want - and need :


They do not want - or need - a system of  church schools which select children on the basis of  creed, colour, or parental bank balance. Nor should taxpayer be expected to prop up with billions of dollars a financially and morally bankrupt system which  never has and never will educate all our Australian children.



If you have a message for supporters of public education:

Please Contact:
Ray Nilsen  on
(03) 9326 9277 or Fax: (03) 9326 9180
Postal address:
P.O. BOX 4869
Melbourne Victoria Australia 3001
Or complete our feedback form.
Last modified:Monday, 25 April 2005