Abbott's Brave New World of Privatised Public Education

Press Release 511

The most startling proposal in Abbott's book - Battlelines - is that the federal government should unilaterally take over state schools and state hospitals, and turn them into privately run institutions handed out by tender, much as he privatised employment services through the Job Network.

Trouble Down Under: The View from America

Press Release 510

Edd Doerr President Americans for Religious Liberty:

Toward the end of the 19th century Australia’s constitutional designers, consciously following the American example, incorporated into their 1901 constitution these words in Section 116:

“The Commonwealth shall not make any law for establishing any religion, or for imposing any religious observance, or for prohibiting the free exercise of any religion, and [borrowing from Article VI of the US Constitution] no religious test shall be required as a qualification for any office or public trust under the Commonwealth.”

So far so good. But . . .

Some years after World War II, under Australia’s rather different national election system, the Catholic bishops began a push to get government funding for church-run private schools. Using a small religious political party, the bishops were able to get the two major parties to begin diverting public funds to the church schools. Alarmed, the supporters of public schools and church-state separation formed the Council for the Defence of Government Schools (D.O.G.S.) to offset this push but were unsuccessful. Finally, in the early 1970s the D.O.G.S. group, inspired by developments in the US, went to court to use Section 116 to block church school public funding. I might note that Americans Leo Pfeffer, C. Stanley Lowell and I were peripherally involved in the matter.

Public School Interest Groups Left out in the Cold in Funding Talks

Press Release 509

Public school interest groups have been largely ignored by the government in talks about funding models for disadvantaged students.

The funding for the 77% of low income students is held hostage to talks being held by Gillard and Garrett with the private school lobby.

Unfortunately, the public school interest groups (with the notable exception of the New South Wales Teachers Federation and some representatives in the Australian Education Union) were duchessed out of relevance thirty years ago.

Max Wallace on Advancing Secularism in Australia

Press Release 508

Max Wallace says that the great disappointment for secular activism internationally is that Christopher Hitchens died before he could never turn his mind to church wealth and their tax exemptions. Had he done so we would be much further down the track in terms of the public awareness of this issue.

Here, in round figures, are the net equity, and cash and bank balances, of the top fourteen religious organisations in New Zealand from the data bases of the New Zealand Charities Commission. I can’t give you the Australian amounts because religious organisations have been exempted from reporting to the new Australian Charities Commission.

Is User-Pays Sectarian the Way of the Future for Australia?

Press Release 505

Will our world class public education system be kicked into the dustbin of history by fearful politicians and religious bureauc Even if the Gillard Government survives and gets sufficient finance - they do not have the intestinal fortitude to call the bluff of the sectarian lobb The public education system and is being starved out of existence

Multi-National For-Profit Corporations to Provide Public Education?

Press Release 504

Since 1964 diversion of billions of dollars of public funding from the public to the private education sector has undermined public education.

Since the 1990s -with

private/public partnerships;
shared facilities;
independent public schools;
and refusal to build new public schools in developing areas

attempts are being made to privatise public education. Australian parents are expected to mortgage their children’s future in a ‘user-pays’ economic system in which ‘choice’ - with ‘no choice’ for the poor - reigns supreme.


In 2013 conservative Australian governments are going one step further.

They are considering blatant profiteering in the primary and secondary as well as the tertiary sector of education.

Katherine Feeney urban affairs reporter and blogger reported on 28 January 2013 that the Queensland Newman Government’s Education Minister John-Paul Langbroek is considering the introduction of for-profit primary and high schools. He sees the outsourcing of the educational opportunities of a nation’s children this as a logical extension of the principle of ‘choice.’

Senator Doug Cameron, Discrimination, and Separation of Church and State

Press Release 502

The current debate over the Federal Government’s proposed anti-discrimination legislation has thrown into relief the inevitable result of entanglement between religion and the state.

The draft Human Rights and Anti-discrimination Bill is currently being examined by a Senate inquiry and some church leaders claim that the Prime Minister had assured that that she has no intention of limiting religious freedom –code for their freedom to discriminate on the basis of religion and lifestyle.