Like what you've read?

On Line Opinion is the only Australian site where you get all sides of the story. We don't
charge, but we need your support. Here�s how you can help.

  • Advertise

    We have a monthly audience of 70,000 and advertising packages from $200 a month.

  • Volunteer

    We always need commissioning editors and sub-editors.

  • Contribute

    Got something to say? Submit an essay.

 The National Forum   Donate   Your Account   On Line Opinion   Forum   Blogs   Polling   About   
On Line Opinion logo ON LINE OPINION - Australia's e-journal of social and political debate


On Line Opinion is a not-for-profit publication and relies on the generosity of its sponsors, editors and contributors. If you would like to help, contact us.


RSS 2.0

Cleaning the barnacles

By Kevin Donnelly - posted Friday, 5 July 2013

Who can forget Kevin Rudd, in the lead up to the 2007 election, mimicking Prime Minister Howard by describing himself as fiscal conservative?

Once again, Rudd is channelling John Howard and copying his approach to politics.

As Prime Minister and when leading into an election campaign, John Howard advised his cabinet to clear the barnacles. This meant removing those policy issues that made the government vulnerable and ensuring that the opposition didn't have any easy shots.


Just under a week since being elected Prime Minister Rudd is following Howard's example and attempting to nullify those issues causing the ALP government damage.

Take education. This week Minister Carr acknowledged that forcing universities to enrol more and more students, especially from disadvantaged backgrounds and on the basis of improving equity and social justice, has led to falling standards.

Prime Minister Rudd, realising the government's Gonski inspired school funding model and National Plan for School Improvement are electoral liabilities, has admitted the critics are correct when arguing the new funding model is flawed.

As reported yesterday, Rudd is allowing an additional month before non-government schools have to sign on to the Gonski inspired model to provide a breathing space to address concerns.

Rudd and Minister Shorten hope, in the time available before the election, to assuage the fears non-government school authorities have that their schools will lose funding and have their autonomy compromised as a result of the new funding model and school improvement plan due to begin at the start of next year.

Rudd and Shorten should not be believed. The ALP government's sudden about face, now calling for meritocracy in education and a better deal for non-government schools, is simply an example of political pragmatism.


What better way to nullify education as an electoral liability than ditch a cultural-left commitment to equity of outcomes and victim-hood, and to copy the Coalition's commitment to properly fund non-government schools, promote meritocracy and allow schools autonomy and flexibility.

Such a move, while close to the hearts of Sussex Street political apparatchiks, will do little to convince an increasingly sceptical public that the ALP is genuine and that it no longer privileges power over policy.

Thanks to Julia Gillard and Peter Garrett, it is also the case that the new funding model and school improvement plan are enshrined in legislation, having passed both houses in the final weeks of parliament.

  1. Pages:
  2. Page 1
  3. 2
  4. All

Discuss in our Forums

See what other readers are saying about this article!

Click here to read & post comments.

5 posts so far.

Share this:
reddit this reddit thisbookmark with Del.icio.usdigg thisseed newsvineSeed NewsvineStumbleUpon StumbleUponsubmit to propellerkwoff it

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

Other articles by this Author

All articles by Kevin Donnelly

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

Photo of Kevin Donnelly
Article Tools
Comment 5 comments
Print Printable version
Subscribe Subscribe
Email Email a friend

About Us Search Discuss Feedback Legals Privacy