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Education and Social Justice: The Absent Kevin Rudd


In October and November last year, Kevin Rudd outlined his Christian social democratic principles. His essays for The Monthly were in many ways refreshing. They revealed a commitment to issues of social justice that hitherto had been buried by his passion for the minutiae of foreign policy. “Social-democratic values are a check on rampant individualism”, Rudd declared boldly. Yet if we look at Rudd’s political agenda pointed to in the first essay, a clear missing dimension becomes apparent. The environment, global poverty and asylum seekers receive pride of place and when the list grows we get “rising interest rates, declining housing affordability, slowing productive growth, an Americanised industrial-relations system, a regressive consumption tax, the skyrocketing costs of university education and the steady undermining of universal health insurance”. Why no mention of the steady undermining of universal public education? Has this not been at heart of the Liberal’s attack on the public sphere in Australia? Does Rudd’s religious commitment blind him to the ethical issues evoked by policies that favour systematically private education? Is this the same Rudd who refers to “the privatised, pietised and politically compliant Christianity on offer from the televangelists of the twentieth century?” How, pray tell, is his position on schooling any different from theirs? Perhaps this was just a silence in the first essay and the second would disclose a commitment to roll back the privatisation of schooling in Australia.