In 1972 my father and mother went along to the Cabaret at the Shoreline Hotel in Howrah to hear Gough and Marge Whitlam talk. My mother was so impressed by Margaret’s approach that she joined the Labor party. My mother left school when she was 12 to help her mother look after a family of 8 children after her father died. These were hard times!
Whitlam’s vision for Australia where higher education would be free to those who had the capacities to aspire was a policy that I and many other post war people benefitted from and that my mother would have also benefitted from had her circumstances been more favourable. It was also an era in Australia where the gaps between the haves and have nots were not as pronounced. Most of us went to public schools and there was a lot of us!
How times have changed. Years of neo conservative policies have sadly eroded reforms that Whitlam had fought hard to change. The Left became moribundly self-obsessed and out of touch and the Right ascended to dominance through popular politics and an appeal to the inherent selfishness in individuals. Public Education has eroded under successive Conservative governments both state and federal. Arts has also been slowly excised from Public Education curriculums and federal policies actively incentivise students into enrolling in STEM degrees – (oh no, we aren’t into Social Engineering are we?).
I’m not sure what their “vision” for Australia is, but one thing for sure it’s spectacularly dull and free of avenues that give people a voice. Silence, divide and isolate!
I have a complete distrust of anything that smacks of ideology. In a world where illusion abounds it is important that we are able to see all things clearly in order to achieve outcomes that genuinely benefit people, that excellence is rewarded and disadvantage is shown compassion. I have been impressed with the voice the AEU has given members through surveys and the way our strategies are informed by what members actually tell us. I am also impressed by the diversity of the Executive Group and the range of voices within its ranks.
Having a “voice” is paramount. Please contact me at anytime with ideas! Oh! Thanks Gough and Marge!!