Education for all, not just the poor!

John Howard was right about something yesterday. We do know what he stands for. As Tony Wright observes in a punchy piece in The Age, he stands for middle class welfare – means testing apparently is “discriminatory” or something – hey, why shouldn’t everyone no matter how big their income get a tax break for their kids’ private school fees? It’s all about “choice” and “the opportunity society”, right? This boondoggle, as Kim Beazley might have put it, is the reason why the Howard version of the Kevin07 education rebate costs billions more. What’s the politics of this? Forget the elephant in the room – the spendathon inevitably leading to higher interest rates, as the Reserve revises its forecasts upwards and the IMF warns about fiscal policy – what Howard is after is a wedge. Labor, according to his script, is supposed to come out and agree with the public school lobby’s complaints (quite justified for mine). Rudd’s unlikely to fall into this trap. He doesn’t need to. He can just keep pointing out that Howard’s here today, gone tomorrow, and change the subject on Wednesday at his campaign launch. That’s the reality of the super-speed election news cycle.

Cross-posted at PollieGraph.

Posted in federal election '07, Howardia
20 comments on “Education for all, not just the poor!
  1. […] Cross-posted at LP in Exile. […]

  2. mick says:

    There’s nothing in Howard’s policies today that Labor will be remotely worried about. It all smacked of last-minute vote buying and I don’t think that anyone is falling for it.

    One thing that I think we can confidently predict no matter who wins next weekent is that a lot of these promises will turn out to be “non-core”. The Treasury is going to have a fit at whoever wins office and the fear of further interest rate rises will make it easy to get the political capital to abandon any of thse spending programs and tax breaks.

    It’s funny how everyone is happy to abandon reality during election campaigns isn’t it?

  3. mick says:

    By the way, any bets on what Rudd has in store for Wednesday? I reckon’ higher education will feature. I’d love it if he announced an overhaul of DIMIA but it ain’t going to happen.

  4. kimberella says:

    I think there will be an overhaul of DIMIA nevertheless.

    I’d expect a big focus on the “education revolution”.

  5. mick says:

    Who goes up against the wall in an “education revolution”? Just askin’ cause I’ve really pissed off some of my students in the past…

    God I’m so funny! Please just ignore my ranting :).

  6. mbahnisch says:

    A true education revolution would mean I wouldn’t have to spend the rest of the week marking essays! 😉

  7. Mercurius says:

    Tax deductability for school fees for orangutans?

  8. David Rubie says:

    All Rudd has to say is that a tax break for school fees is an instant assurance that the fees will rise. It’s trivial to point to the graph of school fees and commonwealth assistance – they are both rising at the same time. With interest rates rising, you’ll see a lot more people interested in public education in the next couple of years – private schooling is a luxury that not everybody can afford and they’d rather chop that than lose their house.

  9. Ambigulous says:

    Mercurius 🙂

    Tax deductibility for school fees for Orang utans, provided they attend a PRIVATE school. It’s all about ApeChoices.

    Voucher scheme for single Orang Utan mums; banana subsidy (Qld bananas only need apply)

    Outlawing Orang Utan Workers Party – clear links to the Chimp Liberation Front, the Tiger Lily Satay Lunch, and Myanmar Elephants Welfare Association

    Selamat datang, Pak Howard, orang baik.

  10. Paul Burns says:

    That was very funny and very clever.
    Even on morning TV, where they think John Howard is a source of sunlight when he bends over,commentators were conceding his great campaign launch was in trouble, because of the pressure the cost of his promises would put on inflation and interest rates. My tip: all of these are non-core promises, which, as opbserved above, will be trashed by Treasury if he is elected.Totally agree with that observation. (Elected I don’t think he will be. See, I’m getting even more confident – so far. Hope I don’t have another outbreak of angst later in the electoral cycle.) My other thoughts on the Lib. campaign launch are on another thread.

  11. Helen says:

    Hmm, middle class welfare, Mr Bahnisch? He sure put paid to your argument in the news this morning. He’s not about middle class welfare at all – he’s for upper class welfare! Put that in your pipe and smoke it!

  12. jethro says:

    On Sunrise this morning, Kochie hinted at the purpose of the education subsidies: to plant the seed that private school fees are now tax-deductible. Although there’s only $800 for secondary school, and there’s bugger all for claiming school fees once uniforms etc are included, the idea is there, and could be a potential vote-winner, especially if there’s any dog-whistling that it may be expanded after the election.

    Dunno about that myself, but interesting anyway.

  13. Ancient Mariner says:

    I would like to add some more to the analysis found here, I see the edu rebates issue here a chance for the opposition to demonstrate some political maturity. This wedge played a big part in the last defeat for the democratic capitalist party. Who can forget the “Hit List” and there were echos of this in the Monarchists cry of “red edu revolution” as if the working class has never had to prove its maturity for political freedom by a successful revolution {all that socialist dribble about the 4th of July}. Basically a good response for the opposition would be to highlight the following
    • Many low income families send their kids to private schools and the rebate is good to the extent it supports them
    • All schools need more support
    • Accountability for the federal funds given to private schools is important
    • Education is a life long path. It is wrong to skew the funding so strongly to one area (Private r to 12) as opposed to Universities and Tafe.
    • Up skill the low income parent and they can do far more for their dependants
    Speaking of revolutions where would we be without the enthusiastic help of Your Riights At Work volunteers building a common class concern for unskilled workers and their future.

  14. David Rubie says:

    Andrew Leigh says it better than me:

    School fees to go up if subsidised

  15. Ambigulous says:

    Pak Paul Burns,

    terima kaseh, ta. Don’t worry, me old china, there’s not too much left in “the electoral cycle now”. About 11 days + 4 hours? Just a few more sleeps, about 268 hours left. Then a new cycle begins….

  16. Aidan says:

    When Rudd is in Government I reckon he should look at fully funding all the catholic systemic schools and low-fee christian/islamic schools as they do in New Zealand.

    This would nullify alot of the wedges that the Coalition use to drive their agenda of private education. All of a sudden you would have about 85% of all students under a Government funded school system. Pell himself acknowledges that the catholic system has become a cheap private school option for middle class families with no Catholic beliefs and the poorest third of Catholic families are virtually excluded from their own system.

  17. Frank Calabrese says:

    Hmm, Has Mike Kelly let the cat out of the bag ?

    [The Labor candidate for the marginal seat of Eden-Monaro, Mike Kelly, has contradicted federal Labor’s policy on school funding during an interview this morning.

    Former Labor leader Mark Latham’s plan to change the school funding formula was one of the most controversial elements of the last election campaign and Labor has since dumped it.

    Labor has since committed to keeping the funding formula the government uses until at least 2013.

    But this morning Mr Kelly said a Labor government would eventually change it.

    “The Government’s ridiculous postcode system is totally crazy. Because the postcode doesn’t give you an actual reading of how a particular school’s doing in that area and certainly there are not only public and independent schools in some of these postcodes that are missing out,” he said.

    “So, it’s a ridiculous approach to looking at the needs of schools and we’ll move away from that and get down eventually to a proper needs based approach.”]

  18. grace pettigrew says:

    Yep Aidan. We might be watching the wrong walnut shells. Rudd has stated very clearly that he does not care whether a school is government or non-government, what he cares about is the quality of education, the state of infrastructure in all schools, and the training of teachers.

    Sounds to me like Rudd might happily keep sending large amounts of taxpayer money into private schools, along with plenty of new government trained teachers, with new federal regulations tying educational standards and outcomes to further funding, at the same time as pouring money into the government school sector, so eventually some sort of equalisation occurs. Then what’s to argue about anymore?

    Might we see the complete reversal of Howard’s decade-long privatisation by stealth of Australia’s school system? And what to call it: nationalisation? Killing the private school sector with government-funded largesse will really mess with Howard’s head, if he is around long enough to watch.

    $800/year? Piffle. Watch PM Rudd.

  19. Ambigulous says:

    Whitlam circa 1973 brought in the Schools Commission and made Govt funding NEEDS-based. This revealed enormous numbers of poor parish Catholic schools (primary & secondary) – and more important, gave out funding to start improving their physical facilities. Whitlam Govt big on school libraries, Science labs etc.

    Needs-based; ignoring denomination, faith, religious teachers vs laity, etc etc. Needs-based. Finally ‘killed off’ that rabid, anti-Papist strand in ALP guts.

    “Needs-based”. I believe Kevin has used a similar phrase.


  20. mbahnisch says:

    Oh, no, God forfend, Ambigulous. He’s put a country mile of distance between himself and “needs based”.

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