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By Kevin Donnelly - posted Thursday, 8 November 2012

Prime Minister Gillard’s Asian White paper represents an unjustified, totalitarian attempt to take control of the nation’s classrooms in order to enforce a utilitarian, Asian-centric agenda on schools.

Under the guise of platitudes about confronting the Asian century, the need to be more economically productive and to lift living standards the Prime Minister will pressure every child to study at least one Asian language.Every subject within the proposed national curriculum, whether music, art, literature or science, will also have to be taught through an Asian perspective.

Worse still, as stated this week and notwithstanding the fact that the Commonwealth government neither employs any staff nor manages any schools, the ALP government plans to tie implementation to funding.


Every school across Australia, government and non-government, and state governments must dance to the piper’s tune or forfeit their right to funding.Ignored is that under the Australian Constitution education is the responsibility of the states, not the Commonwealth.

It shouldn’t surprise that Gillard wants to take control of the nations’ classrooms to enforce her utopian vision. Gillard’s mentor, Joan Kirner, the Victorian socialist-left member of the ALP and one time Premier also defined education as a key instrument to enforce her government’s agenda.

In a 1983 speech to the Fabian society Kirner argued that classrooms must be “part of the socialist struggle for equality, participation and social change, rather than an instrument of the capitalist system”.

The ALP government White paper represents an Asian cultural cringe that ill befits a proud and independent nation like Australia. Slavishly calling on schools to promote Asia denies the nation’s past and the origins of our legal and political systems and the fact that we are members of the Anglosphere.

Ignored is that while geographically a part of Asia, Australia is a Western, liberal democracy and that the nation’s prosperity and safety relies on teaching future generations about our Judeo-Christian heritage and the debt we owe to Western civilisation.

The very things ignored and undervalued by the Gillard inspired national curriculum that treats Christianity as simply one religion among many and that fails to provide a comprehensive and detailed treatment of Australian history.


Also ignored is that rather than being bastions of tolerance and freedom nations like China, Vietnam and Singapore are oppressive regimes where free speech is denied and where self-serving oligarchies enforce their wishes on the population.

The surreal pantomime involving the Chinese government’s trial of the disgraced Politburo member Bo Xilai mirrors the best of Orwell’s 1984 and the fact that in the byzantine world of the Chinese political and legal systems human rights are at the mercy of party bosses.

Prime Minister Gillard’s race to embrace the Asian century also belies her fetish for a utilitarian view of education; one that defines the work of schools in terms of its contribution to economic growth and prosperity. No wonder, when education minister and deputy leader, Gillard described herself as the minister for productivity.

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About the Author

Dr Kevin Donnelly is a Senior Research Fellow at the Australian Catholic University and he recently co-chaired the review of the Australian national curriculum. He can be contacted at He is author of Australia’s Education Revolution: How Kevin Rudd Won and Lost the Education Wars available to purchase at

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