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At the annual Federal Conference January 15-17 2003  the Federal President, Denis Fitzgerald once again took a strong line on Public Education Funding and State Aid to private church schools.

The following are some excerpts from his Opening Address. The full transcript can be found at


" We have just had quite a year. It was a time when the human spirit was sorely tested. It was a year in which our national leadership plumbed new depths. A year in which our Prime Minister, the petit Winston oversaw the diminishing of our nation and its values. We sleep a little more uneasily as do the nation's children. Not only because of some sense of terror without but also because of a resurgence of reaction within.


The further we travel from the wilful mediocrity of our federal leaders however, the more we might gain a sense of optimism and possibility. Last year at Conference our South Australian Branch was instructed to complete the mosaic of Labor governments at state and territory level. They have done so. We thank them for following the wishes of this C conference. Moe recently, the Victorian ALP was re-elected with a majority so vast that they could engage in sweeping reform and social improvement. We will never in our lifetimes have the opportunity to work in pursuit of national goals with such a uniform configuration of governments across Australia. We must seize this day. We realise well however that simply having a Labor government is not of itself a blessing. ...


It was more than a little ironic to hear Alexander Downer speak recently of the urgent need to support secular public education in (Indonesia, because, to his reasoning, sectarian systems of education cause distress, danger and disunity in nations. Well Comrade Downer got that right and we look forward to him extending these observations to our soil...."

DOGS suggest out supporters read the full transcript at the above site to see what Fitzgerald has to say about the Federal Minister for Education, Brendan Nelson. Of particular interest for DOGS however, is Fitzgerald's account of recent research into the comparative funding of public and private church schools.

" The campaign around funding justice has been given an added impetus with the release of the Senate Report into the Education of Students with Disabilities. This all-party report, chaired by a Liberal Senator and released within the last few weeks, contains the most significant conclusions regarding the funding of schools in Australia. Its findings in relation to the funding of school systems in Australia state that :

'On current funding trends, the Catholic education system will in 2004 have an estimated total income 11.7 per cent higher than the estimated cost of educating primary and secondary students in government schools. For other non-government schools, estimated total income will be 7.8 per cent higher.'

Whilst some of the senators on the committee believe that these figures vastly understate the amount of money received by private schools it should now forever dispel the myth of poor Catholic schools in this country and it must lead to the political imperative of redistributing billions of dollars back into public education.


The Vinson process in NSW, which provides weighty philosophical justification for such redistribution, has also brought us considerable encouragement not least because of the deep-seated affection and support for public education, which we have been reminded of along with the skilled political mobilisation of this sentiment.

So lingering and deep-seated is the concern for education and the issues that we campaign for that national polling still placed education consistently as the number one issue for electors throughout 2002. We have this most excellent reality to work within. "

It is heartening for supporters of public education that Denis Fitzgerald and the AEU are in there fighting for our children and our children's children - and our very basic, national civic values



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Last modified:Monday, 25 April 2005